Cryotherapy is a minimally invasive treatment that makes use of intense colds to destroy and freeze the diseased tissues along with cancer cells.
In this therapy, argon gas and liquid nitrogen are applied to the diseased cells, which are situated outside or inside your body. The therapist uses image-guidance techniques like computed tomography, magnetic resonance or ultrasound to locate the sites for treatment inside your body.
Cryotherapy is most commonly used for:
- Skin tags
- Skin tumors
- Unsightly freckles
- Pre cancerous skin moles
- Retinoblastoma (Childhood cancer of the retina)
- Liver, cervical and prostate cancer, particularly if surgery is not possible
Cryotherapy with your therapist:
When you undergo this therapy at your therapist’s clinic, the procedure includes:
- First your physician applies liquid nitrogen to the affected area by using a spray device or cotton swab.
- For treating internal tumors, the therapist inserts small and hallow needles through your skin.
- In order to track your heart rate, pulse rate and blood pressure, you are connected to the monitors.
- You are given with general anesthesia.
- The regions where the cryoprobe or electrodes are introduced are carefully shaved, sterilized and enclosed by using a surgical tape.
- The therapist makes a small nick at the affected area.
- By using image-guidance, your physician inserts the series of small needles or cryoprobe through your skin at the area of the diseased tissue. Once the probe or needles are set in place, organ gas or liquid nitrogen is delivered.
- For treating prostate cancer, your therapist inserts 6-8 needles through the perineum with the use of ultrasound guidance.
- Once the procedure is completed, the cryoprobe or needles are removed from that area. The therapist applies some pressure to that area to stop any bleeding and then it is covered with a bandage.
- The entire procedure takes 1-2 hours to complete.
Types of cryotherapy that you can perform at your home:
Ice bags: This type of cryotherapy makes use of simple ice bags like a plastic bag, chemical cold packs, a hot water bottle, and frozen vegetables. During this technique, first you need to dry the affected area. Place a terry cloth towel over the affected area to avoid direct contact of the ice with the skin.
Apply the ice pack for 10-15 minutes. During this process, your skin undergoes 4 stages of sensation. They include: cold, burning, aching and numbness. Immediately stop doing the therapy, whenever you feel numb.
Ice massage: This is another form of cryotherapy. Take clean tap water in a container and keep in the freezer until it is completely frozen. Take a small amount of ice and massage with it on the affected area with constant circular motion. Avoid holding the ice cube in one area for more than 3 minutes.
But, cryotherapy is not recommended for everyone. This therapy should not be used by the people who:
- Have circulatory problems
- Are unconscious
- Are unable to respond and cannot feel cold, for example, a person with paralysis
- Are allergic to cold, some people can develop blisters and rashes due to cold
So, you need to consult the doctor before undergoing the treatment.