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Have you noticed unusual patches of scaly or crusted skin? If so, you might have a dermatologic condition called actinic keratosis. These lesions may also be elevated and can sometimes resemble warts. They are often red, but may be other colors such as tan. Since actinic keratosis can develop into skin cancer if left untreated, it’s important to see a dermatologist right away. Cryosurgery is one of the treatment options that your doctor may recommend.

Preparation

There is little that you need to do to prepare for cryosurgery. However, it is important that you have a thorough discussion with your dermatologist. Before undergoing cryosurgery, you should understand your diagnosis and explore all of your treatment options. Your dermatologist should explain why cryosurgery is the best choice for you. Among most dermatologists, cryosurgery is often considered the preferred treatment for actinic keratosis because of its high rate of success.

Procedure

First, the dermatologist will cleanse the area of all lotion, makeup, or other substances. Sometimes, the doctor applies a local anesthetic to the area to minimize discomfort. Then, liquid nitrogen is applied with either an applicator stick or an aerosol spray. More than one application may be needed. If so, the dermatologist will wait until the area has thawed before applying more liquid nitrogen. During the procedure, you may feel some stinging, burning, or itching sensations.

Recovery

After cryosurgery, the treated area will be swollen, sore, and red. After the skin has been frozen with liquid nitrogen, a blister will form underneath the lesion. New skin forms underneath the blister, allowing the abnormal lesion to peel off. While the area heals, it’s important to follow your dermatologist’s skin care instructions. You may be instructed to keep a clean bandage on the treated area and, later on, to apply an antibacterial ointment.

Dermatologists in Arlington Heights strongly encourage individuals to schedule a cancer screening if they notice any abnormal lesions on the skin. You can call Arlington Dermatology at 847-392-5440. Our dermatologists have extensive experience treating carcinoma, actinic keratosis, and all other dermatologic conditions.

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