Ultraviolet light exposure from the sun or a tanning bed can accelerate the occurrence of age spots. Sometimes called sun spots or liver spots, these skin discolorations generally appear flat and oval-shaped, and are brown, gray or black. While most age spots are harmless, having them removed can restore a more youthful appearance to your complexion. Cryotherapy is one treatment option that uses liquid nitrogen to safely remove unwanted age spots and other skin lesions.
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Familiarize yourself with the side effects that are associated with cryotherapy. While most people tolerate this procedure quite well, a few side effects, such as swelling, blistering or infection, can occur. On rare occasions, cryotherapy has caused scarring or changes in skin pigment of the treated area. Also, if a superficial nerve is frozen during the procedure, you may experience a temporary numbness of the area that may last several months.
Schedule an appointment for the cryotherapy procedure with your doctor or dermatologist. This minimally invasive procedure takes only a few seconds per treatment area and is generally performed by a physician in an out-patient setting. To treat age spots with cryotherapy, your doctor uses a special spray gun that shoots liquid nitrogen at the treatment area which causes the skin to turn white. The skin takes a few minutes to return to normal temperature, after which, depending upon the depth of the lesion, you doctor may treat the area a second time.
Expect mild discomfort during the cryotherapy procedure. Although no anesthesia is used, cryotherapy can cause some mild pain during and after the treatment. To ease the discomfort, you can take an analgesic or other over-the-counter painkiller an hour before the procedure and at regular intervals in the 24-hour period following the treatment.
Follow your doctor's instructions for home care of the treated area after your procedure to lessen the occurrence of side effects. Keep the area dry, and if your doctor advises you to do so, apply Vaseline to the treated area. If the area becomes wet, gently pat it dry with a soft cloth or towel. In the first few days following the procedure, the blister caused by the treatment will form a scab. This will be shed by the skin in one to two weeks. Do not pick at the scab as this could induce scarring.
Alert your doctor if your experience any complications. While infection is uncommon, it may require treatment with antibiotics or a topical antiseptic. Infection is characterized by an increase in pain and pus forming at the treatment area. Your doctor can also reduce swelling and redness with a topical steroid ointment.