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Cryotherapy is a painless, in-office procedure. It is a freezing method used to remove benign skin lesions. Well-defined lesions and tumors are ideal for freezing, as the doctor can easily identify and treat the appropriate area.

Cryotherapy is also called cryosurgery. It is a low-cost, effective treatment for skin lesions such as actinic keratosis, solar lentigo, seborrheic keratosis, viral wart, molluscum contagiosum, and dermatofibroma.

Cryotherapy uses liquid nitrogen to freeze the cells. When the cells thaw, they die. When the cells die, the treated area will shrink and fall off. New, healthy skin cells will regenerate.

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The doctor will apply liquid nitrogen with a spray device or cotton-tipped applicator to the unwanted skin tag or lesion. No cutting or anesthesia is required. The amount of time it takes to freeze the lesion can range from 5 to 30 seconds, depending on the lesion.

The treated area may be red and swollen initially, but this is a short-lived side effect. Other possible side effects include bleeding, headache, or local hair loss, especially with longer freeze times. Some people may experience loss of pigmentation or blister formation at the site of treatment, but scarring is rare.

A single treatment is sufficient for most types of lesions, while some people may require an additional one or two treatments over the course of four to eight weeks.

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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit