What can I Expect During Cryotherapy for a Wart?

When you have a wart that needs removal, your dermatologist might suggest cryotherapy as a means to get rid of it. Cryotherapy for a wart uses cryogen, more commonly known as liquid nitrogen, to freeze the wart. When removing warts via this method, you can expect to have three or four cryotherapy treatments every one to four weeks. Each treatment freezes the wart with the extreme cold generated from the cryogen, then thaws the wart so it will eventually simply fall off. These treatments can be used on any type of wart, including genital warts.
Before beginning the procedure, the wart will be thoroughly cleaned. Cryotherapy for a wart can be extremely painful, so your doctor might administer a local anesthetic through small injections around the wart’s area. After waiting a few minutes for the anesthetic to start working, your dermatologist might cut off excess skin from your wart, depending on its size and location.
There are a variety of ways to freeze warts, with the most popular being through a cone spray, cotton swab or cryoprobe. The cone spray technique is most appropriate for round-shaped warts, and the cone attachment is adjustable to any spherical size. If your doctor chooses this cryotherapy technique, he or she will spray cryogen just above the wart until an appropriately sized ice ball forms. After the ice ball thaws, cryogen can be applied again.
Using a cotton swab to apply cryogen is the oldest method of cryotherapy for a wart. In this method, your doctor will dip the swab into the cryogen solution, then press it onto the wart for the desired amount of time. This method is not as effective as the cone spray, because it is not possible to achieve lower temperatures.
The cryoprobe method uses an apparatus with conductor wire, usually copper, to freeze the wart. Cryogen is not used in this method because the cryoprobe itself provides the extreme cold necessary to produce freezing temperatures. Your doctor will apply white petrolatum to the wart, then press the cryoprobe’s wire into the petrolatum. Many doctors have abandoned this method because it is more time-consuming than using the cryoprobe or cotton swab.
Regardless of the freezing method chosen by your doctor, expect multiple treatments to rid yourself of the wart. Oftentimes, the wart removal is temporary because the root of the wart remains. This will necessitate further treatment cycles when the wart reappears. Cryotherapy for a wart also often results in certain side effects, such as pain, skin irritation and scarring.

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