What is cryosurgery?

Cryosurgery is a technique for removing skin lesions that primarily involve the surface of the skin, such as warts, seborrheic keratosis, or actinic keratosis. It is a quick method of removing the lesions with minimal scarring.

Occasionally if the lesion is very thick (such as a large wart), only the surface is blistered off. The base or residual lesion may need to be frozen at another visit.

Lesions that may be treated by cryotherapy include:

  • Actinic keratoses
  • Viral warts
  • Seborrhoeic keratoses 
  • Skin tags

What to expect over the next few weeks?

  • During treatment – the area being treated will sting, burn and then possibly itch. 
  • Immediately after treatment – the area will be red, sore and swollen. 
  • Next day- blister or blood blister has formed, tenderness starts to subside. Apply a Band-Aid if necessary. 
  • 7 Days- surface is dark red/brown and scab-like. Apply Vaseline or an antibacterial ointment if necessary.
  • 2 to 4 Weeks- the surface starts to peel off. This may be encouraged gently during bathing, when the scab is softened.

How to take care of the skin after cryosurgery?

  • A Band-Aid can be used for larger blisters or blisters in areas that are more likely to be traumatized- such as fingers and toes. If the area becomes dry or crusted, an ointment (Vaseline, Aquaphor) can also be applied.
  • If approved by your Provider, you may bathe, swim, exercise and otherwise follow all of your normal activities.
  • The area may get wet while bathing.
  • Avoid swimming or hot tub use for one week. 
  • Within 24 hours, you can expect the area to be swollen and or blistered.

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