5 Things to Know About Cryosurgery

Surgery is usually inconvenient and uncomfortable–who looks forward to invasive incisions and (often) painful recoveries? Cryosurgery is an efficient solution to many skin problems, such as external tumors, warts, or moles, but it can also be used internally to easily get rid of unwanted or unhealthy tissue. Still, the prospect of freezing any part of one’s body off can be daunting. Continue reading to get the basics about cryosurgery so you can become familiar with the pros and cons.

  1. Cryosurgery uses extreme cold to kill/remove dead or abnormal bodily tissues. It can be used for tumors or lesions on the skin, but is also sometimes used inside the body. Freezing off warts is a form of cryosurgery that uses liquid nitrogen spray.
  2. It is most often used as a cancer treatment, usually only after other treatments have failed. It has shown to be particularly effective in treating skin cancers.
  3. It is less invasive than traditional surgery, but still has its own risks. Blisters, hypo-pigmentation, frostbite, and (in the case of nerve damage) a loss of sensation could all occur. These side effects are usually mild and will go away if the site of the cryosurgery is well taken care of.
  4. Cryosurgery is not horribly painful, and sometimes a local anesthetic isn’t even needed. Patients may experience a burning sensation due to the liquid nitrogen, but it is usually mild and tolerable.
  5. Cryosurgery uses liquid nitrogen to produce the necessary temperatures. Liquid nitrogen can be as cold as -320 degrees  Fahrenheit, and temperatures as low as -50 degrees Fahrenheit can be achieved in less than a minute. This makes liquid nitrogen extremely efficient at freezing and killing unhealthy tissue. Surgery is generally quick, and patients can usually go home the same day.

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