Cryotherapy: Treatment and After-Care
Most people tolerate imperfections, especially if they can be easily hidden or disguised. The fashion and fitness industries are built upon presenting our best image by enhancing stand-out features, concealing less impressive features, and glossing-over marks or scars to present the facade of clean, glowing skin. In a world where physical beauty is emphasised over almost anything else, nobody wants to appear disfigured or unhealthy, so it’s no surprise that more people than ever are turning to dermatologists for skin-care answers. Cryotherapy is a dermatological boon for removing blemishes and improving appearances.
Although a doctor’s primary job is to heal the sick, there are additional physical benefits from medical therapies. Dermatologists confront skin problems and disease with healing pathways that improve function as well as form, with skin quality and appearance the big winner. Cryotherapy literally means using very low temperature as medical therapy, with the procedure useful for a broad range of applications. Skin blemishes that are removed by cryotherapy Sydney include warts, benign lesions, scars and many other unwanted growths. As a multidisciplinary field, dermatology is a therapeutic and surgical approach to skin care that is unmatched by any other medical field.
A freezing substance (cryogen), usually liquid nitrogen, is used to subject unwanted skin growths to extreme cold. The cryogen is directed toward a target area where it destroys skin tissue while also stimulating the immune system response. After some time, the unwanted tissue will scab then fall off, leaving healthy tissue behind to heal and repair itself. Along with a cleaner skin appearance, patients are afforded peace of mind in knowing that the unwanted growth no longer poses a health threat. In summary, cryotherapy repairs skin in a few simple stages:
- Freezing lesions, warts or other growths such as skin tags, seborrhoeic keratosis, actinic keratosis (sun spots )
- Skin tissue is destroyed by the extreme cold
- The immune system is stimulated
Although liquid nitrogen is the most common cryogen used, there are other substances that can be employed depending on individual circumstances. The cryogen is applied in a thin shaft delivered by a medical spray-gun, although a cotton bud is an effective applicator for some substances. Treated skin will naturally sting somewhat, and blistering usually occurs due to the extreme cold, but the pain experienced is surprisingly tolerable when delivered by an expert dermatologist.
In a few days, a scab will form, then dry and fall off during the following week or two. In stubborn cases, follow-up cryotherapy Sydney treatments are used to ensure full lesion removal with little likelihood of return. Cryotherapy is inexpensive, reliable and safe, although an accurate dermatology assessment is important as the procedure isn’t suitable for treating aggressive melanoma.
The post- treatment lesion requires no dressing. The site can be gently cleansed daily with salt water wash or normal saline. Avoid occlusive bandages. The blistert hat forms may be large or haemorrhagic. It should not be deroofed. If it is uncomfortable, it may be decompressed with a sterile needle, leaving the roof intact.
Pain from freezing produces a stinging, burning pain. Freezing of lesions on palms, soles, ears, lips and eyelids are more painful than elsewhere. Freezing of forehead and scalp lesions can produce a headache. Analgesia can be taken if necessary.
- Immediate: pain, syncope, headache, edema(esp. periorbital), blister formation
- Delayed: infection, haemorrhage, slow healing (esp. on LL)
- Prolonged but temporary: hyperpigmentation, milia
- Permanent: hypopigmentation, ectropion, atrophy, alopecia
The procedure is generally safe from complications if it is performed with care, although there are occasional exceptions. Cryotherapy treatments near the eye, for example, can cause the eyelid to become puffy for a day or two, although swelling will soon settle and disappear. Additional care of the treatment site is usually restricted to gentle washing or an optional dressing to cover the area during healing, especially if the site is in an area where clothing will rub and cause discomfort during healing.
Once the blister transforms into a scab, Vaseline can be applied to soothe and moisturise the wound. Poking or picking at the scab must be avoided to facilitate natural healing processes, allowing the scab to fall off in its own time. The rate of healing varies on different areas of the body, with the scab generally remaining on lower legs much longer than on the face or hands. In most cases, the end result will be entirely normal looking skin showing no sign of any lesion.
Cryotherapy can be performed by a regular doctor with good success but a dermatology consultation is an opportunity to discuss other areas of the skin that require attention for medical or cosmetic reasons. Pymble Dermatology is the go-to North Sydney dermatology clinic for people who want to look and feel their best from head to toe – and who doesn’t want that. Drop by our dedicated clinic or make an appointment if you require any advice or assistance in treating unwanted or harmful skin conditions.