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How is cryosurgery used to treat acne?

Dr. Doris Day, MD
Dermatology

Cryotherapy involves the use of liquid nitrogen or carbon dioxide slush to treat acne. These procedures are useful, but they require special storage containers and are becoming less popular as newer treatments become available. The goal of these treatments is to exfoliate localized areas of skin where the pimples are concentrated. Some people love the way their skin looks after the treatments, but there is a risk of scarring, and storage of the materials is difficult, which makes this treatment relatively uncommon. Liquid nitrogen is very cold; in fact, it is -195 degrees Fahrenheit, which means that it needs to be stored in a special container since it evaporates at room temperature.

Generally, both liquid nitrogen and CO2 slush are applied by the doctor to specific pimples. Immediately after the treatment, the site can turn red and become a little swollen. This generally lasts anywhere from half an hour to a day. Then the pimple dries up and exfoliates off with washing over the next few days or so. Sometimes the doctor will apply a very light layer of the cryogen to the entire face for a general peel. The skin usually turns red and then peels over the next week. Sometimes the peeling process is not noted as obvious peeling of the skin, but the skin looks smoother and feels softer to the touch.

100 Questions & Answers About Acne

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100 Questions & Answers About Acne

100 Questions and Answers About Acne provides you with all the information you need to manage your complexion problems. Written by Dr. Doris J. Day, a world-class expert in the field, this clearly...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.