Liquid nitrogen/cryotherapy guidelines

Author: Procare Guidelines Group; Chief Editor: Dr Amanda Oakley, Dermatologist, Hamilton, New Zealand, 3 August 2014.

These guidelines were provided to DermNet New Zealand by ProCare Health Limited, July 2014


These guidelines have been written for the use of ProCare member practices. No set of guidelines can cover all variations required for specific patient circumstances. It is the responsibility of the health care practitioners using these guidelines to adapt them for safe use within their institutions and for the individual needs of patients.


Cryotherapy is a minimally invasive procedure that uses an extremely cold liquid or instrument to freeze and destroy abnormal tissue that requires elimination. It is also referred to as cryosurgery or cryoablation.


Medical practitioners and registered nurses who have been are trained to perform the procedure.

Treatment of malignant skin lesions by cryotherapy is not covered by this document.

Indications for cryotherapy

*Diathermy may be more effective for acrochordons / fibroepithelial polyps

The following skin cancers may be suitable for cryotherapy if performed by a medical practitioner with appropriate training and where the lesion has been identified by biopsy:

Contraindications to cryotherapy

Precautions when using cryotherapy

Checklist for cryotherapy


Prepare equipment/environment

Liquid Nitrogen Application


Inform patient that the treated area:

If there are any signs of infection the patient should contact the practice**

**For example, increasing redness of surrounding skin, discharge, increasing pain

Complications and side-effects



Permanent (uncommon)

Safety considerations

Relevant practice policies and procedures

  1. Health and Safety Policy
  2. Informed Consent Policy
  3. Infection Control Policy
  4. Practice Hazard Register
  5. Material Data Safety Sheets: liquid nitrogen

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