Cryotherapy, or cryosurgery, is a procedure that uses extreme cold (liquid nitrogen) to remove sunspots and some small BCCs.
How it’s done
The doctor, usually a dermatologist, sprays liquid nitrogen onto the sunspot or skin cancer and a small area of skin around it. You may feel a burning or stinging sensation, which lasts a few minutes. The liquid nitrogen freezes and kills the abnormal skin cells and creates a wound. In some cases, the procedure may need to be repeated.
What to expect after
The treated area will be sore and red. A blister may form within a day. A few days later, a crust will form on the wound. The dead tissue will fall off after 1–4 weeks, depending on the area treated.
New, healthy skin cells will grow and a scar may develop. The area will heal in a few weeks, and the healed skin will probably look paler than the surrounding skin.
Prof Diona Damian, Dermatologist, The University of Sydney at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, and Associate, Melanoma Institute of Australia, NSW; Dr Annie Ho, Radiation Oncologist, Genesis Care, Macquarie University, St Vincent’s and Mater Hospitals, NSW; Rebecca Johnson, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Melanoma Institute of Australia, NSW; Shannon Jones, SunSmart Health Professionals Coordinator, Cancer Council Victoria; Liz King, Skin Cancer Prevention Manager, Cancer Council NSW; Roslyn McCulloch, Consumer; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Paige Preston, Policy Advisor, Cancer Prevention, Health and Wellbeing, Cancer Council Queensland; Dr Michael Wagels, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon, Princess Alexandra Hospital, QLD.
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