The use of cryogens or cryotherapy, curettage, laser therapy, electrocautery or surgical excision all assist in treating keratosis – the first being the most popular. With an vacant doctor’s office, one can easily avail of this procedure ranked as the second-most commonly administered skin-lesion-removing procedure as researches suggest.
To help eliminate warts and keratosis, both annoying types of skin lesions, cryotherapy uses extreme cold to render these lesions frozen, dried and readily peeled off from the skin. But this treatment works beyond compare only for flat or slightly-elevated lesions.
So how does cryotherapy work? The arteries and veins, generally known as blood vessels, found at the injury site such as the lesions’ site, are squeezed by cryotherapy. The site then receives lessened blood flow due to this process, commonly referred to health professionals as vasoconstriction. Oxygen supply, along with other fundamental nutrients needed for a cell’s survival, decreases due to inadequate blood supply. Eventually, the detrimental effect is cell death or necrosis.
There are a few types of cryogens, substances used to obtain very low temperatures, namely, liquid nitrogen, carbon dioxide snow and DMEP or dimethyl ether and propane. But due to its efficiency in removing skin lesions, mainly because of its low boiling point, most physicians prefer to use liquid nitrogen in implementing cryotherapy.
Using any tool that would restrict the doctor’s direct contact with liquid nitrogen such as a cotton bud, a spraygun or a probe, the physician starts the process by directly applying the liquid nitrogen onto the client’s skin. In the span of a minute, heat from the skin transferring to the liquid nitrogen causes it to disappear instantly. Next to this brief freezing period is the thawing process which endures longer. This is the time that the actual cell injury starts to occur – when the intracellular contents begin to leak out. Lastly, cell inflammation, characterized by skin redness, edema or swelling, pain and warmth, occurs as the cells’ final response to cell death.
Cryotherapy, in general, is safe when administered properly. But complications are always a part of any procedure, be them low-risk or high-risk. One of this is hypopigmentation, or the loss of skin color due to a reduction in melanin production, which is the result of deep or prolonged freezing by the liquid nitrogen.
Due to its dangerous effect on people exposed through direct contact, liquid nitrogen is still considered highly dangerous despite not making it under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act’s list of hazardous materials. People are subjected to the dangers of liquid nitrogen either through inhalation or through direct contact. Inhalation effects are not that toxic unless a significant amount of liquid nitrogen is spilled, thereby reducing oxygen levels prompting the need for respirators. Extreme care must therefore be observed during its transportation.
When transferring liquid nitrogen probably into smaller containers, it can splash into the direction of the eyes causing injury such as cryogenic burn. Direct contact with the skin can also transpire unexpectedly.
Everyone must therefore adhere to safety protocols when dealing with liquid nitrogen. Always wear goggles, face shields or masks, gloves, aprons or other encapsulating suits when handling any objects with liquid nitrogen or liquid nitrogen itself. People not having the first line of defense from liquid oxygen should leave an area exposed to liquid nitrogen leaks. And if liquid nitrogen ever comes in contact with the skin, and not during a cryotherapy, the frozen skin should be soaked in water that is 41-46 degrees Celsius in temperature before immediately consulting a doctor.