Cryotherapy (cryosurgery) is a skin cancer treatment that involves the use of very low temperatures generated by liquid nitrogen (or argon gas) to destruct abnormal tissue.
Cryotherapy can treat external tumors such as growths on the skin. It is used in the treatment of early skin cancers including both squamous cell and basal cell carcinomas. It can also address precancerous skin growths called actinic keratosis.
Board certified dermatologist Dr. Jamie McGinness and Jackie McGinness, FNP (Nurse Practitioner), who both treat general derm patients, provide skin care treatments to patients in Shiloh, IL; St. Louis, MO, and surrounding communities.
How is cryotherapy performed?
Cryotherapy is a fast and simple in-office procedure. The doctor may draw a margin (outlines) around the region and typically spray the nitrogen. At times, a swab or cryoprobe may be used.
The doctor will hold the sprayer around one cm above the lesion, and an iceball will develop around the lesion and margin as the doctor sprays the site. The doctor will spray the site for up to 30 seconds after the iceball develops.
This helps the site to remain frozen for long enough to destruct the tissue. According to the lesion, the doctor may allow the site to thaw for two to three minutes before re-freezing the area. However, re-freezing may not be necessary for actinic keratosis.
The probe or spray reaches temperatures as low as -13ºF to -58ºF.1. This enables the cells to freeze instantly. Further destruction occurs as swelling develops in the area within 24 hours.
Types of Skin Cancers Treated with Cryotherapy
Actinic keratosis is commonly treated with cryotherapy. Actinic keratosis refers to a precancerous lesion or skin abnormality that may develop into skin cancer. Around ten percent of actinic keratoses develop into squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).
Therefore, the doctor may recommend cryotherapy to treat actinic keratoses, and it cures between 75 and 99 percent of actinic keratoses. At times, cryotherapy is used in the treatment of SCC, basal cell carcinoma (BCC), and small Kaposi sarcoma lesions on the face.
What to Expect before, during, and after Cryotherapy?
Cryotherapy may be painful, and the patient can experience a burning sensation of discomfort in the treated area. The doctor will explain wound care to the patient following cryotherapy. A blister will develop in the treated site within one day, and a scab will develop a few days later.
Benefits of Cryotherapy
Cryotherapy is less invasive in comparison to surgery. It involves only a tiny incision or inserting the cryoprobe through the skin. This minimizes pain, bleeding, and other complications of surgery.
This procedure is also more affordable and has a shorter recovery period and hospital stay, or at times, no hospital stay. Sometimes cryotherapy is performed under local anesthesia.
Cryotherapy is a targeted treatment which helps preserve the surrounding healthy tissue. Repeat treatments can be performed safely, and cryotherapy can also be administered in combination with chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, and hormone therapy.
This procedure may be appropriate for the treatment of cancers that are deemed inoperable or those that are unresponsive to traditional treatments. It is also suitable for patients who are not ideal candidates for conventional surgery due to their health condition or age.
Focused board certified dermatologist Dr. Jamie McGinness and Jackie McGinness, FNP (Nurse Practitioner) receive patients from Shiloh, IL; St. Louis, MO, and other suburbs and communities across the horizon for various skin treatments.
If you would like to learn more about procedures and treatments at Metro East Dermatology & Skin Cancer Center by Board Certified Dermatologist Dr. Jamie L. McGinness please contact us here or call (618) 622-SKIN (7546)
Taking new patients in and around the greater St. Louis, Missouri and Illinois area: East St. Louis Missouri, Shiloh Illinois, Belleville, Millstadt, Saint Clair County, Madison County and more.