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The Dermatologist – Venereologist Ioannis Chiotis gives you all the necessary information about cryotherapy.

What is cryotherapy?

Cryotherapy, also known as cryopexy or cryosurgery, refers to the use of cold for the destruction and removal of the abnormal tissue, including cancer cells.
In cryosurgery, specific pathological areas of the skin are treated in a controlled way, which leads to the temporary destruction of the tissues and their subsequent healing (ice burn).

It is a very popular, simple, effective and safe treatment method which the patient can tolerate from an early age, without local anaesthesia and which allows him/her to return without any restrictions to his/her everyday activities. It is also considered unique, as it has managed to prevail over many other alternative treatment methods and still consists a valid option for a large number of skin diseases.

Who uses cryotherapy?
The cryotherapy method is principally applied by Dermatologists - Venereologists. Furthermore, it can be used in the specialties of neurosurgery, oncology, gynaecology, urology and ophthalmology.

Who uses cryotherapy?

The cryotherapy method is principally applied by Dermatologists - Venereologists. Furthermore, it can be used in the specialties of neurosurgery, oncology, gynaecology, urology and ophthalmology.

Since when is cryotherapy applied?

The anti-inflammatory, analgesic and therapeutic properties of natural cold were known since the Antiquity to Egyptians and Greeks. James Arnoot from London, who is the person that is considered the one who started modern cryosurgery, was the first who described the effects of cold at a temperature of -24 ° C, in living tissues.

In the 1960s, cryopexy began being used for the therapeutic treatment of skin tumors, precancerous skin lesions, acrochordons and/or melachormatic lesions. It has also been used at the time for the destruction of retinoblastoma, a cancer of the retina in childhood.

How is cryotherapy performed?

The low temperature of the tissue which we are interested to cure is usually achieved through liquid nitrogen. This is the agent that is used in most of the cases by Dermatologists in cryotherapy. Liquid nitrogen is stored in special recipients.

During the contact of liquid nitrogen with the skin, which is performed either through spraying or with contact probes, the cooling of the skin takes place. In a short time an oedema (swelling) and  redness appears in the treatment area and in some cases it is possible that a blister appears the next day. Subsequently a scab is formed which is detached in 7 - 12 days, depending on the treatment that took place.

How does cryotherapy act?

During the cooling of the skin the formation of ice crystals takes place inside and outside of the cells. This leads to the stasis of the blood in the vessels, to tissue anoxia and finally to the necrosis of the pathological tissue.

As a successful cryosurgery technique is considered the rapid cooling of the lesion and its slow defrosting. It must be remarked that multiple short duration cryotherapy sessions cause larger tissue damage than one single session of a longer duration.

Where is cryotherapy applied?

Cryotherapy is used for the treatment of the following skin disorders, alphabetically:

  • Angiokeratomas
  • Angiolymphoid hyperplasia
  • Hemangioma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Acne
  • Cysts
  • Post-acne scars
  • Actinic cheilitis
  • Actinic hyperkeratoses
  • Basal cell carcinoma
  • Mucous cyst on lips
  • Cutaneous horn
  • Cutaneous leishmaniasis
  • Dermatofibroma
  • Lentigines
  • Eosinophilic granuloma of the face
  • Sun lentigines
  • Papillomas - Acrochordons
  • Lentigo maligna
  • Benign hemangiomas Campbell de Morgan
  • Keratoacanthoma
  • Lymphangioma
  • Leukoplakia
  • Melasma
  • Molluscum contagiosum
  • Myxoid cyst
  • Warts
  • Bowen’s disease
  • Genital warts
  • Pyogenic granuloma
  • Kaposi sarcoma
  • Seborrheic hyperkeratoses
  • Sebaceous adenomas
  • Hypertrophic scars
  • Keloids
  • Venous lake

How often must cryotherapy be repeated?

The frequency of the cryotherapy sessions depends on the problem that the patient wishes to improve and is determined by the attending doctor. In the cases where a repeat is required, cryotherapy is applied after 3 - 4 weeks.

Who is contraindicated for the application of cryotherapy?

Cryotherapy must not be applied to patients that suffer form the following:
  • Cryoglobulinemia
  • Agammaglobulinemia
  • Cold-induced urticaria
  • Cold intolerance
  • Raynaud Syndrome
  • History of pyoderma gangrenosum

What are the complications of cryotherapy?

Cryotherapy is considered as a safe treatment method with relatively few complications, the most common of which are hypopigmentation, hyperpigmentation and the formation of scars.

What is the cost of cryotherapy?

The cost of cryotherapy is small and it is individualized depending on the sessions that are required as well as the number of skin lesions that the patient is interested to cure.


Ioannis N. Chiotis
Dermatologist – Venereologist
Former Physician at the UNIVERSITY Clinic of LEEDS – ENGLAND and at the UNIVERSITY Clinic of the “Andreas Syggros” Hospital in Athens, Greece

22-24, 25 Martiou street,
Rhodes (1st Floor)

Telephone: 22410 745 02
Mobile (Cell) Phone: 6944 523 400
Fax: 22410 704 75
Email: dr.ichiotis@yahoo.gr

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