Cryosurgery (Cryotherapy) for Warts

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There are a number of treatment options available for wart removal, all effective in different manners and suitable for different kinds of warts. Of these cryotherapy is amongst the most successful in removing warts quickly and effectively with minimal discomfort or damage to the skin around the wart in question.

What is cryosurgery?

Cryosurgery is often referred to as cryotherapy, and is based on applying a very cold substance, usually liquid nitrogen, to tissue that is infected or damaged. The purpose of the treatment is to remove diseased tissue effectively, and it has proven to be a very effective technique to this end, particularly in the field of wart removal. Uses for cryosurgery do, however, extend beyond warts, and the treatment is used successfully for skin cancers, moles, and skin tags as well as a number of internal conditions like liver cancer, lung cancer, and haemorrhoids to name a few. So as you can see it is a remarkably versatile technique with many applications because of its safety and effectiveness.

How does cryosurgery remove warts?

Cryosurgery works by applying liquid nitrogen to the wart, which can take less than a minute to freeze the wart. A local anaesthetic is sometimes used, and your doctor may choose to shape the skin around the wart to increase the effectiveness of the treatment. Liquid nitrogen will be applied to the wart either by means of a direct spray or through a cotton swab for example. A blister forms after the treatment, which will dry up a few days after the session. Your wart may fall off, but usually it takes a few treatments with a couple of weeks between each one to completely get rid of the wart.

Cryosurgery will usually be opted for where topical salicylic acid treatments have been tried first. 

What are the advantages of cryosurgery?

Cryosurgery is a more aggressive therapy which can remove warts quickly and efficiently. The technique can be applied to a range of warts, including facial and oral warts which are usually sensitive to other treatments. Unlike laser therapy, cryosurgery causes minimal scarring and doesn’t cost anywhere near as much to perform. After a session of cryosurgery the recovery time is fairly short, and it usually takes about a week or two for your skin to heal.

What are the disadvantages of cryosurgery?

Cryosurgery can be painful, which is why a local anaesthetic may be used. This pain can actually last as long as 3 days after each treatment, and as you may need up to 4 sessions, this can put many people off. While cryosurgery can work where other treatments have failed, it isn’t necessarily a guaranteed solution to warts. There are instances where a wart needs quite aggressive cryotherapy, and in these cases it can take your skin longer to recover. There is also a slight risk of infection which cryotherapy carries with it.

Despite some caveats, cryosurgery still presents a good option for many people looking for quick and effective wart removal. The treatment is very straightforward and can be performed quite quickly with great success in the reasonable comfort of a doctor’s office.

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