Cryotherapy is a treatment method that is used to destroy abnormal tissue that appears on or near the cervix. It is only a superficial treatment but has been proven to be effective. The technique uses liquid carbon dioxide to freeze tissues for two to three minutes at a time. The liquid carbon dioxide is passed through a probe as it lies along the surface of the tissue. Since the probe cannot direct the cold to a specific area, some healthy tissue will be lost. Since cryotherapy offers superficial treatment, a cone biopsy may be required to address tissues that are higher up in the cervix.
Cryotherapy is ideal for areas of tissues that lie close to the surface. It is not invasive and causes minimal discomfort. Patients often report slight discomfort that goes away in a short amount of time. The procedure can be performed in the doctor’s office with no hospital stay. Because it is a non-invasive procedure, the recovery time is rather fast and does not require a patient to miss work or be kept from day-to-day activities. Cryotherapy does not treat cervical cancer, but it can address abnormal tissues that eventually turn into cancer if left untreated.
Cryotherapy has a few possible side effects, but none of those that have been reported are life-threatening. Many patients report slight discomfort for a few hours after surgery. Water may discharge from the vagina for approximately two to three weeks. Because of the sensitivity associated with the destruction of the abnormal tissue, sexual intercourse should be avoided for at least two weeks. Pads should be worn instead of tampons to reduce the risk of possible infection and hasten the healing process. One of the possible drawbacks is damage to healthy tissue in addition to the treatment of the abnormal tissue.
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