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Cutaneous Cryosurgery for Common Skin Conditions

Karl T Clebak, Megan Mendez-Miller, Jason Croad
American Family Physician 2020 April 1, 101 (7): 399-406
Cryosurgery is the application of freezing temperatures to achieve the destruction of tissue. Cutaneous cryosurgery has become a commonly performed outpatient procedure because of the combination of its safety, effectiveness, low cost, ease of use, lack of need for injectable anesthetic, and good cosmetic results. Cryosurgery may be performed in the outpatient setting using dipstick, spray, or cryoprobe techniques to treat a variety of benign, premalignant, and malignant skin lesions with high cure rates. Benign lesions such as common and plantar warts, anogenital condylomas, molluscum contagiosum, and seborrheic keratoses can be treated with cryotherapy. Basal and squamous cell carcinomas with low-risk features may be treated with cryosurgery. Contraindications to cryosurgery include neoplasms with indefinite margins or when pathology is desired, basal cell or squamous cell carcinomas with high-risk features, and prior adverse local reaction or hypersensitivity to cryosurgery. Potential adverse effects include bleeding, blistering, edema, paresthesia, and pain and less commonly include tendon rupture, scarring, alopecia, atrophy, and hypopigmentation.

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