Cryotherapy is the local or general use of low temperatures in medical therapy or the removal of heat from a body part. The term "cryotherapy" comes from the Greek cryo (κρυο) meaning cold and the word therapy (θεραπεια) meaning cure. It has been around since the 1880-1890s.
Its goal is to destroy abnormal cells by crystallizing the cytosol (freezing). The most prominent use of the term refers to the surgical treatment, specifically known as cryosurgery.
Cryotherapy is a therapy modality that is ideally suited to dermatology as the skin is the most completely accessible organ of the body. When used appropriately cryotherapy can be used to destroy tumors and growths as well as small skin cancers without sharp (steel) surgery. If you have ever been to a physician dermatologist you have probably seen cryotherapy in use. Most cryotherapy units look like a metal Thermos bottle but with a small nozzle or spout that allows a specific amount of liquid nitrogen to be sprayed to a specific area of skin for an exact amount of time. Chemical cryotherapy units are available, but these do not get as cold as liquid nitrogen units such as are used at AESCA. Colder freeze temperatures allow more efficient and quicker freezing and is the choice of physician dermatologists.
Most dogs tolerate the mild spraying noise of the cryotherapy unit. We normally numb (anesthetize) the area with a local anesthetic so the pet does not feel discomfort.
It is ideally suited for small raised skin growths such as the those that often appear on the skin of dogs as they get older. The procedure takes about half an hour and normally only a local anesthetic is needed.