Otherwise known as cryotherapy or cryosurgery, liquid nitrogen first became available as a skin treatment in the 1940s, and is becoming increasingly popular today. With fantastic results in treating everything from warts to skin tags, liquid nitrogen is considered to be the quickest, and most effective, method when it comes to banishing certain skin blemishes.
What is Liquid Nitrogen?
Gaseous nitrogen occupies 78% of the air that we breathe, and liquid nitrogen is simply the liquid form of gaseous nitrogen. Liquid nitrogen is extremely cold, and has to be transported and stored in special containers in order to keep the liquid viable.
What Can Liquid Nitrogen Treat?
Liquid nitrogen is used to target, freeze and destroy abnormal skin tissues. This can be anything from warts to varuccas to sun spots to moles to nodules, as well as pre-cancerous growth. While liquid nitrogen can also be used to treat tumors within the body, it is most commonly used on external skin growths, as this is where it has experienced the most success.
How the Treatment Works
Liquid nitrogen skin treatments usually only last between ten and thirty seconds each, although two or more sessions can be needed for thicker blemishes, whose roots are not as easily accessible. The treatments are usually carried out by a dermatologist, as part of an out-patient procedure, and do not require any special additional preparations. The liquid nitrogen is usually applied to the skin blemish using a spray gun, and while this may feel quite uncomfortable due to how cold the liquid nitrogen is, it is rarely painful, with the discomfort usually equating to that of holding an ice cube to your skin for ten seconds. The liquid nitrogen works by freezing that area of the skin, which turns white after the nitrogen has been applied, before thawing back out to normal skin temperature after a couple of minutes.
After the Treatment
If a skin blemish requires subsequent treatments, this can usually be carried out in the same session, with a gap of several minutes between each treatment. Over the next couple of days, the part of the skin that has been treated with liquid nitrogen will form a scab, which can then take anywhere between a week to a month to fall off.
Possible Side Effects
While liquid nitrogen treatments are usually painless, deep freezes, which are needed for issues such as basal cell carcinoma, can sometimes be painful, but this is easily taken care of with paracetamol. Swelling and redness is also common in the area after treatment, but this dissipates within a couple of days.
Being a painless, effective and efficient way of clearing skin lesions and blemishes, liquid nitrogen treatments are growing in popularity, meaning that it is now relatively simple to find a dermatologist that is able to perform this. If liquid nitrogen treatments are something that you would like to explore further, make an appointment with your dermatologist, as they will be able to provide you with specific advice and guidance.