Derm Spotlight: How Does Cryosurgery or Cryotherapy Help Pets?   

Cryosurgery is the application of extreme cold to remove abnormal or diseased tissue. This compound term comes from the Greek prefix “cryo” meaning “freezing cold” AND the English word “surgery” meaning to “cut”.  A better descriptive term to describe this procedure is cryotherapy because the cutting of tissue is not done during the procedure. Rather, it is the freezing of abnormal and diseased tissue. This type of therapy has been used for many years. It involves the application of intense cold resulting in the death of the targeted tissue. It also numbs the surrounding sensory nerves decreasing pain and discomfort.


Cryotherapy is often used in human patients to treat various cancers, hemorrhoids, skin conditions and tumors. In veterinary dermatology, cryotherapy is often used to remove warts, tissue growths and tumors on the skin without the need for generalized anesthesia or sedation.

How Does Cryotherpy Work?

Cryotherapy freezes the abnormal tissue causing the cells to die. Most of the body’s cells are made up of water. When the water inside the cell freezes, ice crystals form causing the treated cell to rupture and die. Additional damage occurs to the supplying blood vessels and sensory nerves.


An example of a nodule that can be removed with cryotherapy.

A nitrous oxide gas is sprayed onto the diseased tissue at a speed of 40 meters/second through a precise application tube. Three to four freeze-thaw cycles will be completed with each treatment. This ingredient is sprayed onto the diseased tissue through a precise application tube at the temperature of -89°C. The healthy normal tissue is unaffected.

Once freezing occurs, the targeted tissue dies slowly (over 7 to 10 days) and falls away. A color change will likely be seen during this process. Despite the short term unpleasant appearance of the affected tissue, there is no discomfort for the patient due to the anesthetic effect of the therapy. The patient is often happier than before. In larger tumors, more than one treatment may be needed.

Is Cryotherapy Painful?

A local anesthetic lidocaine is injected underneath the targeted tissue so the procedure is painless for our patients.

How Effective is Cyotherapy?

In most cases, it is curative depending on the size of the nodule. Small viral warts and skin tumors are usually cured with one cryotherapy session.

How Long Does Cyotherapy Therapy Take?

Cryotherapy is a quick procedure which can be conducted within the time span of 10 to 20 minutes and completed during a scheduled clinic appointment.

Is Cryotherapy Affordable?

This is an affordable option to quickly remove viral warts and other tumors. This is because, no sedation or generalized anesthesia are needed. Only a localized anesthetic injection is recommended a few minutes before the procedure is initiated.


This is the cryotherapy nozzle that is used during treatment sessions.

If you are interested in scheduling Cryotherapy for your pet’s infection please contact us.


  1. Richman AW et al. Persistent papilloma treated with cryotherapy in three dogs. Vet dermatol. 2017 Dec;28(6):625-e154.
  2. de Souza CP et al. Cryosurgery in association with itraconazole for the treatment of feline sporotrichosis. J Feline Med Surg. 2016 Feb;18(2):137-43.
  3. Zibura AE et al. Retrospective evaluation of canine palpebral masses treated with debulking and cryotherapy: 46 cases. Vet Ophthalmol. 2019 May;22(3):256-264.
  4. Thomson M. Squamous cell carcinoma of the nasal planum in cats and dogs. Clin Tech Small Anim Pract. 2007 May;22(2):42-5.

Comments are closed.