What to expect after cryotherapy?

Liquid nitrogen treatment is an effective way of using extreme cold to treat localized lesions, but despite its benefits, aftercare should not be overlooked

Freezing the treated area will inevitably leave a skin lesion that will need to be taken care of during the days following the treatment.

What is cryotherapy used for?

With a boiling point of minus 320 degrees Fahrenheit, liquid nitrogen is one of the coldest substances on earth. Dermatologists use cryotherapy for various medical applications for treating benign or precancerous skin cancers such as actinic keratosis, often caused by repeated sun exposure.

Liquid nitro is sprayed or directly apply to the treatment area. Just as heat burns, extreme cold will carry the same side effects as a burn.

After the treatment with liquid nitrogen, you may experience some discomfort, localized pain, redness, and swelling, followed by the formation of a blister that should not be broken open to prevent infection. 

Cicatrization should start and progress nicely in just a couple of days, usually without leaving a scar. However, you may somehow notice a discoloration of the treated area that will go back to its standard color after a couple of months.

Liquid nitrogen can also be used to remove age spots. By removing the pigment, age spots may disappear, and the skin may look discolored for a couple of months.

What to do after the skin treatment?

One of the best things to do is to clean the area with water and neutral soap. In most cases, there is no need to cover the tissue with a band-aid or a bandage. 

It is also recommended to avoid long baths or go swimming for the next couple of days that follow the cryotherapy treatment, as prolonged exposure to water could impair the healing process.

Your doctor may prescribe you painkillers such as aspirin or Tylenol that will also prevent inflammation.

If fluid leaks from the blister, just let it drain and protect the area with a dressing. Applying an antiseptic cream can also be effective in preventing secondary infection.

Is it usually recommended not to apply ointments or make-up on the treated area? Instead, your doctor may recommend applying vaseline or local antibiotic cream to help the healing process, prevent dryness, infection, and prevent the formation of a crust.

What are the potential risks?

Secondary infections are the main side-effects that can appear following treatment with liquid nitrogen. 

In case of fever, or if you notice swelling of the surrounding area, bleeding, or if the pain gets worse, immediately contact your doctor.

What about Whole Body Cryotherapy?

Whole Body Cryotherapy is different from localized cryosurgery treatments and is mainly used to speed up post-training recovery and prevent muscle pains.

Following the “therapy” in the cryo-chamber, your skin temperature will rapidly rise back to normal levels. Then, as the vessels dilate and the blood flows to your skin, you may experience a transient tingling sensation that will last a couple of minutes.

Due to the production of hormones, you may also feel more relaxed.

In some rare instances, you may experience frost-bites that your doctor or dermatologist will need to be treated immediately. 

Despite the lack of scientific evidence and FDA approval for such alternative treatment methods, whole body cryotherapy is usually considered safe when done correctly. However, always talk to your doctor before such an approach and ensure that experienced and trained professionals manage the facility.

To wrap up

When used to treat a skin condition, liquid nitrogen will be directly applied to the skin. This can lead to potential side effects that will need to be addressed immediately. In case of continuous pain, swelling or fever, contact your doctor.

In most cases, the skin will heal in a couple of weeks without the need for additional treatments.

Whole Body Therapy is considered safe when properly applied. Apart from transient discomfort, such liquid nitrogen treatment will not require any aftercare.

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