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Cryotherapy is the use of extreme cold temperatures like liquid nitrogen or nitrous oxide, to treat benign skin lesions such as skin tags, warts, cysts, or treatment of other dermatologic conditions of the skin and ears. At VETDERM Clinic we use a pressurized instrument called a Cryoprobe, which uses nitrous oxide to treat such skin lesions.

Dogs and cats may develop a range of skin lesions which can have variable side effects including itchiness, irritation, discharge, crusting, and/or infection. These lesions can be annoying for the pet and unsightly for those around them so removal is regularly advised. Cold surgery using a scalpel has been the conventional treatment for removal of these lesions for many years. This procedure more often than not requires sedation and/or anesthesia to ensure the pet’s comfort during removal. However sometimes depending on the age of the pet or concurrent health conditions, sedation or anesthesia is not always the safest choice and can be cost prohibitive, so cryotherapy is a practical alternative. Cryotherapy causes the patient minimal to mild discomfort and can usually be performed on pets while they’re awake, with the use of freezing agents or mild sedation, if necessary. There is no bleeding, stitches or cone collars post procedure, making this very attractive for pets and pet parents.

What kind of lesions can be treated with cryotherapy

  • Sebaceous adenomas
  • Viral warts (papillomas)
  • Histiocytomas
  • Epidermal/follicular cysts
  • Meibomian gland adenomas
  • Eosinophilic granuloma complex (cats)
  • Acral lick granulomas
  • And more!

    Further testing prior to performing cryotherapy treatment (fine needle aspirate, biopsy testing) may be indicated and will be planned if necessary, depending on individual patient needs.

What to expect with treatment

Long or short term side effects of cryotherapy may include:

  • Skin pigment changes
  • Hair colour changes or hair loss at the treated area
  • Sensory impairment
  • Scarring
  • Infection

Redness of the treated area will occur within a few days of cryotherapy after which the treated area will begin to necrose, scab over, and eventually fall off. Up to four treatments of cryotherapy spaced 2-4 weeks apart may be needed in order to fully treat the affected area.

Cryotherapy is not appropriate for all patients. Talk to VETDERM Clinic today to see if your pet is a candidate.

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