Cryosurgery (Liquid Nitrogen Therapy) is used by Dermatologists on a number of different diagnoses. The most common are the pre-cancers called actinic keratosis (not yet a Squamous Cell Cancer), although it can also be used to treat warts, wisdom spots called seborrheic keratosis, and a whole host of other conditions.
Your Dermatologist can use Cryosurgery to treat a variety of skin lesions (Skin Cancers like Basal Cell Cancer and Squamous Cell Cancer can be treated this way but we rarely do because there are better treatment modalities available). Liquid nitrogen is often applied with a “cryo gun” which sprays a thin cold mist onto the skin, resulting in a white, frost-like appearance on the surface of the skin. Cryosurgery may also be applied with a cotton-tipped swab or other methods. The extremely cold temperature of liquid nitrogen kills the skin cells on the topmost layer. This results in a mark on the skin that looks like a pimple, usually takes about a week or two to go away, and can leave a permanently lighter or darker spot in its place. Cryosurgery may be mildly painful, particularly when applied to the face, but anesthesia is rarely if ever necessary. This pain usually lasts for about 10 minutes.
Remember, if your Dermatologist treats an area with liquid nitrogen and it does not resolve within 4 weeks, or if it ever returns after 4 weeks, you really need to return to the clinic to see if anything else needs to be done to the lesion. Liquid nitrogen is usually very effective at treating pre-cancers. But, the closer a pre-cancer gets to becoming a Squamous Cell Cancer, the harder they are to treat. Your Dermatologist needs to know if anything we treat does not resolve in a reasonable period of time (2-4 weeks) so that we can re-assess the area.
Colorado Springs Dermatologists are highly tuned to treating pre-cancers and skin cancers due to how strong the sun is and the amount of time we spend outside. We treat patients all day long with Liquid Nitrogen so please ask us any and all questions you have concerning if this treatment modality is right for you.