Cryotherapy side effects and problems

Treatment failure

The success rate of treatment with cryotherapy is variable:

Basal cell carcinoma
95-98% cure rate

Solar keratoses:
80-99% cure rate. The rate is lower if the treatment is very gentle.

This means that in some cases the lesion may not go away, or it might reappear after treatment. But if sun spots reappear after treatment, it does not necessarily mean the treatment has failed. Sun spots are likely to continue to develop in areas of sun damaged skin for the rest of your life.
if you have had a basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma treated, it is important to have the area checked later to confirm that the treatment was successful

Pigmentation changes

Cells that produce skin pigment can be destroyed by cryotherapy, causing a permanent pale area at the site of treatment. This reaction is common, but usually hard to notice in fair-skinned people. People with darker skin should be aware of the risk of reduced skin pigmentation before having cryotherapy.
In some cases, the amount of skin pigmentation can increase after cryotherapy, due to inflammation. This usually settles gradually but in some cases can be permanent.

Hair loss

Cryotherapy to hairy areas can result in permanent hair loss. For this reason, we often avoid cryotherapy treatment in the area of the eyebrows and on the hairline. Other options such as prescription creams may be better treatments in these areas.

Slow wound healing

In regions with poor circulation (typically the lower leg), cryotherapy can cause ulcers (open sores) which take a long time to heal and may be at risk of infection. Alternative treatments such as surgical removal or applying a cream may be better treatments for BCC, SCC or solar keratoses in these areas, particularly in people with vascular problems or diabetes.