Nitrogen comprises 80% of the air we breathe. Liquid nitrogen is at a temperature of -321 degrees Fahrenheit or -196 degrees centigrade, a point at which it is no longer a gas but a clear, odorless liquid.

Liquid nitrogen is used in controlled fashion to create frostbite in unwanted growths, both benign and pre-malignant. Some medical doctors also treat cancer, using probes to monitor the depth of freezing.

As liquid nitrogen is much colder than anything found in nature, the body perceives it as a hot, stinging sensation which is mildly to moderately uncomfortable, depending on the location being treated and the length of application. Usually, anesthetic is not required prior to freezing. If necessary, topical Lidocaine may be applied post-procedure to lessen discomfort.

Immediately post-op, the area treated may itch and develop a hive. Itching usually ceases within an hour only to be followed by a blister which, may have some blood in it.

If this blister is in an area where it is likely to pop, or is cosmetically important, the blister may be opened. The proper way to do this is to cleanse the area and a needle with alcohol and gently prick the top of the blister. Softly express the fluid with clean gauze. After opening, topical antibiotic should be applied. If the blister is in an area of friction, you may want to cover with a band-aid. Do not remove the blister roof as, it acts as a natural dressing. No restrictions on activities, other than what one would take after any minor wound, are required.

The blister roof will usually separate in about a week when on the face. Facial blood supply is so good, injuries heal very quickly. Non- facial locations may take three to four weeks for the blister roof to separate due to differences in circulation.

Pigmentation changes are the only long term complication of cryosurgery, in otherwise healthy individuals. People with Celtic type complexions may have less pigmentation at the treated site while dark complected individuals may have a darker area resulting from the inflammation associated with healing.

It is expected for the areas treated to return to normal texture with no residual palpable changes. If a lesion does not resolve or recurs please contact our office.

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