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Cryotherapy: Uses, Cases, and Precautions

Cryotherapy: Uses, Cases, and Precautions

Cryotherapy is a specialized treatment where a healthcare provider applies extreme cold to freeze and destroy abnormal tissue. To create this blistering cold, a freezing agent or substance like liquid nitrogen or argon gas is used. Cryosurgery, a type of procedure that utilizes cryotherapy, is currently deemed safe and effective for certain medical treatments like wart and cancer cell removal.

Uses and Different Cases

Cryotherapy can also be used to take care of a variety of skin conditions and some cancers, including prostate, liver, and cervical cancer. This therapy can treat tissue externally such as skin and tissue inside the body. This specialized treatment is also called cryoablation.

Cryotherapy is what you call a minimally invasive therapy. This type of treatment simply removes damaged or diseased tissue that may arise from a variety of medical conditions. Cryotherapy is a procedure usually done without open surgery. Most people who have this procedure recover quickly from the procedure and with little to negligible pain.

Cryotherapy can also be applied to just one area, or should you want to, you can opt for whole-body cryotherapy. Localized cryotherapy can be delivered in several ways, such as via coolant sprays, ice packs, ice baths, and ice massages.

How does cryotherapy work?

During a session, the healthcare provider administers extreme cold to the abnormal tissue. These particular cells cannot endure this brutal cold and usually die off after treatment.

Your healthcare professional can utilize a few different freezing agents to create the intense cold that is needed and used in cryotherapy. These substances can include:

  • Liquid nitrogen
  • Liquid nitrous oxide
  • Argon gas

Tips and guidelines

If you have any particular conditions you want to be treated with cryotherapy, consult your physician.

If you’re getting cryosurgery, your doctor will very likely discuss specific preparations with you before the procedure. This may include not ingesting anything or drinking any liquids for 12 hours before the procedure.

If you will be receiving whole body cryotherapy, you are recommended to wear dry, loose-fitting clothing. It is advisable to bring socks and gloves to protect from frostbite. During the therapy session, it’s advised to move around if possible to keep your blood flowing.

Pros & Cons

Cryosurgery is what is called a minimally invasive treatment. Compared to traditional surgery, it usually has nominal pain and bleeding and a very low risk of damaging healthy tissue near the abnormal cells.

These particular sessions are not without certain risks albeit very small, and complications can also occur. And these complications may include:

  • Swelling
  • Scarring and skin infection
  • Cramping
  • Pain or bleeding after cryotherapy around the cervix
  • Bone splinters
  • Nerve damage resulting in loss of feeling

What to expect?

The current popular form of cryotherapy that most healthcare professionals administer involves sitting in booth for about 5 minutes or less.

Some individuals undergo cryotherapy facials, where the cold is applied only to the face. Some people want to target specific areas in their body, such as a painful joint. Most people apply the term cryotherapy to refer to whole-body cryotherapy. This is a non-medical treatment, which is administered in a spa or similar setting.

Doctors, however, also use this for the treatment of certain conditions. For instance, with very cold temperatures, the procedure can be used to freeze and eliminate warts or cancerous cells.

Though the freezing sensation does not initially feel good, sessions also tend to get better with each treatment, as the body adapts appropriately to the low temperature.

It is generally a safe procedure. But nonetheless, it is important to talk to a doctor before undergoing cryotherapy.

Certain people with predispositions and health concerns such as pregnant women, children, people with severe high blood pressure, and people with heart conditions should not try this procedure.

To freeze or not to freeze

Anecdotal evidence from small studies shows great potential for cryotherapy to produce much-needed health benefits, but the research is still in the early stages.

Although it is currently deemed safe and effective for certain medical treatments like wart and cancer cell removal, there is currently no definitive evidence to support the many claims made by whole-body cryotherapy or cryofacial centers.

If you are currently considering this procedure, speak to your doctor first to determine if it is a safe option for you.

Learn more about other Medical Procedures here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Cryotherapy for prostate cancer, https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/cryotherapy-for-prostate-cancer/about/pac-20384740, Accessed September 10, 2021

Cryoablation for cancer, https://www.mayo.edu/research/clinical-trials/tests-procedures/cryoablation-for-cancer, Accessed September 10, 2021

Cryotherapy, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/21099-cryotherapy#:~:text=Cryotherapy, Accessed September 10, 2021

Cryotherapy, https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info/cryo, Accessed September 10, 2021

Cryotherapy, https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hw61500, Accessed September 10, 2021

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Written by Honey Buenaventura Updated 3 weeks ago
Fact Checked by Kristel Dacumos-Lagorza