Cryosurgery is the use of extreme cold to remove unhealthy and irregular tissues from the body. Cryosurgery is a non-invasive form of surgery that leaves hardly any scarring, has a low cost and minimal pain.

When to Use Cryosurgery

Cryosurgery has commonly been used to treat a lot of skin conditions; malignant and benign. It is also used to treat warts, moles, skin tags, solar keratosis, and Morton’s Neuroma. Liver cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, oral cancers, cervical disorders and hemorrhoids can all as well be treated through cryosurgery. Fibroma and plantar fasciitis are soft tissue conditions that can be treated with cryosurgery. Although cryosurgery has a long list of diseases it can treat, this method is only appropriate to use on localized disease and solid tumors larger than one cm. Tumors smaller than one cm are not affected by cryosurgery.

How it Works

Cryosurgery works to use the destructive features of extreme temperatures on cell growth. Ice crystals establish themselves at low temperatures inside the cells which works to tear them apart. Damage is increased through the freezing of blood vessels that supply the infected area. There are many methods of using cryosurgery, such as:

•    Liquid Nitrogen: Sprayed on the diseased tissue then circulated through a cryoprobe, a small tube. Also can be put on with cotton or foam.
•    Carbon Dioxide: Carbon dioxide “snow” is put in a cylinder or combined with acetone to gather its slushy consistency, then is applied to the area.
•    Argon: The Joule-Thomson effect gives physicians control of the ice which eliminates most complications by using an ultra-thin 17 gauge cryoneedles.
•    Dimethyl Ether – Propane: This is the method in the Dr. Scholl’s Freeze Away drugstore applicator. It is a combination of dimethyl ether and propane stored in an aerosol spray   container that drops the temperature to -42 °F as it leaves the can.

Risks of Cryosurgery

•    Damage of nearby healthy tissue
•    Damage to nerve tissue
•    Minor-to-moderate localized pain and redness
•    Blisters

Image Credit: