Cryotherapy

This section addresses recovery after intralesional cryotherapy, which is the dominant type of cryotherapy used today.

Immediately after treatment:

  • Immediately after intralesional cryotherapy, some patients experience minor bleeding from the puncture holes. The doctor may cover these with a sterile dressing.
  • It is normal to experience pain immediately after intralesional cryotherapy. A few hours after treatment, blisters will develop at the treated sites.

Days and weeks after treatment:

  • The treated scar should be washed on a daily basis until it heals in order to prevent infection. In some cases, the doctor may recommend applying an antibiotic ointment and a sterile gauze to the scar for about 10 days as a further measure against infection.
  • A few days after treatment, a crust will form over the treated scar. It may take up to a month for the skin to completely heal.

Longer term:

  • Persistent skin lightening (hypopigmentation) at the treated site may be present for months, and in some cases, may last over a year.
  • A rare long-term side effect is development of an atrophic (indented) scar at the treated site.
References
  1. Levy LL, and Zeichner JA. Management of acne scarring, part II. A comparative review of non-laser-based, minimally invasive approaches. Am J Clin Dermatol. 13(5), 331-340 (2012).
  2. van Leeuwen MC, et al. Intralesional cryotherapy for the treatment of keloid scars: evaluating effectiveness. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Global Open. 3(6), (2015).
  3. Ledon JA, Savas J, Franca K, Chacon A, and Nouri K. Intralesional treatment for keloids and hypertrophic scars: a review. Dermatologic Surgery. 39(12), 1745-57 (2013).
  4. Rusciani L, Paradisi A, Alfano C, Chiummariello S, and Rusciani A. Cryotherapy in the treatment of keloids. J Drugs Dermatol. 5(7), 591-5 (2006).
  5. van Leeuwen MC, et al. Intralesional cryotherapy for treatment of keloid scars: a prospective study. Plast Reconstr Surg. 135(2), 580-9 (2015).
  6. Gupta S, and Kumar B. Intralesional cryosurgery using lumbar puncture and/or hypodermic needles for large, bulky, recalcitrant keloids.  Int J Dermatol. 40(5), 349-53 (2001)
  7. Zouboulis CC, Rosenberger AD, Forster T, Beller G, Kratzsch M, and Felsenberg D. Modification of a device and its application for intralesional cryosurgery of old recalcitrant keloids. Arch Dermatol. 140(10), 1293-4 (2004).