In the past, the removal of tumors typically involved invasive surgical procedures. However, advancements in technology over recent decades have introduced a range of innovative approaches, and cryoablation stands out as one of these remarkable techniques.

Cryoablation employs extremely cold gases to freeze and eliminate abnormal cells or diseased tissue. This procedure is often known as cryosurgery or cryotherapy.

Kinds of cryoablation

There are various methods for doing cryoablation:

  • Topically, on the skin’s surface.
  • Percutaneously introduced into your body through a minor puncture.
  • By means of a larger surgical incision that is made during the surgery.

Reasons for undergoing the procedure

Several conditions can be treated with cryoablation:

  • Precancerous cells in the cervix.
  • Arrhythmia (irregular heart rate and rhythm).
  • Skin abnormalities, such as warts, skin tags, atypical moles, or actinic keratosis (precancerous skin growths).
  • Tumors related to cancer (skin, liver, kidney, bone, lung, prostate, breast).


Typically, cryoablation is considered safe; nevertheless, specific risks may arise, particularly in cases involving surgical or percutaneous cryoablation, such as:

  • Bleeding.
  • Skin infection from any skin opening.
  • Anesthesiarelated side effects, include difficulty waking up or nausea.
  • Injuries to nearby structures.
  • Collecting fluid in the surrounding tissues (lungs, for example).
  • Nerve injury causing weakness or numbness

Before the procedure

Your medical provider will offer instructions on preparing for cryoablation. Depending on the type of cryoablation procedure and other factors, they may request you to undertake the following:

  • Report any possible pregnancy.
  • Let them know if you have any medical conditions or allergies.
  • Quit taking some drugs, like blood thinners, NSAIDs, and aspirin.
  • Make plans for a lift home following the procedure.
  • On the day of the procedure, dress comfortably and loosely. Keep jewelry and valuables at home.
  • Prevent pain and infection by taking specific drugs beforehand.

During the procedure

Topical cryoablation is typically performed during a routine visit at a doctor’s office. It’s possible that you won’t even need to change into new clothes, nor that you won’t require any painkillers.

Your doctor may request that you wear a hospital gown for the duration of any surgical or percutaneous cryoablation procedures. Anesthesia might be administered to you. It can relax you, prevent discomfort in a particular location (numbing spray or needle), or send you to sleep so that you feel nothing at all.

Your doctor will place you on an examination or surgical table just prior to cryoablation. They could sanitize the area or shave it. You might have devices attached to you during a surgical procedure that track your blood pressure, pulse, heart rate, and oxygen saturation.

A surgeon uses a hollow applicator known as a cryoprobe, which resembles a needle, to perform cryotherapy

The cryoprobe holds and circulates extremely cold gas, including: 

  • Liquid nitrogen.
  • Liquid nitrous oxide.
  • Compressed argon gas.

Your surgeon locates the right place inside your body by using imaging equipment. For a few seconds or minutes, the specialist applies pressure using the cryoprobe to the diseased or abnormal tissue. The diseased tissue is frozen and destroyed by the extreme cold at the cryoprobe’s tip. It may be necessary for your surgeon to touch the affected tissue with the cryoprobe multiple times.

Your surgeon removes the cryoprobe and, if necessary, sutures the incision when the cryoablation procedure is complete. For minor skin issues, the complete procedure may take only a few minutes, but for open cryosurgery, it may take several hours.

After the procedure

The majority of patients typically go home on the same day following their cryoablation procedure. However, in certain cases, such as when dealing with a deepseated tumor or a substantial incision, an overnight stay may be necessary. Following cryoablation, it is advisable to arrange for transportation unless the procedure involved minor skin operations. Your body will naturally expel the deceased cells over time.


The kind of your cryoablation procedure plays a significant role in your recovery:

  • Topical cryotherapy: You may potentially return to your usual activities right away.
  • Percutaneous cryosurgery: It may take one to three days for recovery.
  • Surgical cryoablation: Avoid lifting anything for 72 hours, and consider limiting regular activities for a week to ten days.

Your medical team will provide clearance for you to resume work and your regular activities when deemed appropriate.