October 15, 2020

Most people will do almost anything to see their skin free of bulging keloid scars. Some might even try out risky procedures just to regain their smooth skin. 

But that shouldn’t be you. One keloid treatment method is quite effective, as it is safe - cryotherapy for keloids!

That’s right. Although not the most common scar treatment method, cryotherapy has proven over the years to be an effective way to treat keloids and several other skin disorders. So, if you have a keloid that isn’t yielding to other treatments, cryotherapy might just be that silver bullet you’ve been looking for.

But how exactly does cryotherapy for keloids work? Let's take an in-depth look.


What is Cryotherapy?

In simple terms, cryotherapy stands for “cold therapy.” It is a treatment technique that uses very low temperatures to treat various health conditions. It involves exposing the human body to some pretty low temperatures for a few minutes.

This therapy can be applied to the whole body or to a specific area depending on the condition under treatment. For instance, when treating keloids, the doctor will mostly expose just the affected area to the therapy. Targeted cryotherapy for specific areas is administrable through several methods, including:

  • Ice massage
  • Ice baths
  • Coolant sprays
  • Ice packs
  • Tissue probes

On the other hand, entire-body cryotherapy is done by submerging the body into the exceptionally cold air, a process that takes just a few minutes. The person undergoing this procedure will be enclosed in a small chamber full of cold air, between -200 and -300°F. Only the head will be outside the chamber.

The entire procedure will take between 2 and 4 minutes and can have numerous benefits to your health. Although one whole-body cryotherapy has significant benefits, regular sessions offer even more benefits. Some people take even up to one session a day for ten days for better results.


How Does Cryotherapy for Keloids Work?

Keloids refer to some stubborn benign growths that appear on the skin, mainly after an injury. Due to their high recurrence level after treatments, these scars can pose psychological and emotional stress to the affected person. Besides, no single treatment has proven to completely get rid of these bulging scars.

Cryotherapy has, however, shown a significant effect on keloids by rendering them almost invisible.  A research conducted by NCBI concluded that cryotherapy is one of the most effective treatment modalities for keloids. The research shows that the procedure is more effective on newly formed keloids, with the effectiveness varying due to the keloid’s age and size.

The use of ultra-cold temperatures to destroy keloids is not only effective, but it’s also safe and relatively affordable. However, before undertaking your cryo-surgery, ensure that you have the right doctor for the job.

As it’s always my belief that the success of any surgical procedure is as good as the professional performing it. Look for a doctor who has experience with the procedure and whose track record speaks for itself.

Remember, consultation is also quite essential. Through this, the doctor can evaluate and advise you accordingly. Sometimes, what you think is the right solution for your scar, might not work on your skin. Factors such as the type of keloid, size, skin type, location, and family history are among the major factors that determine the effectiveness of cryotherapy for keloids.


So, how Exactly Does the Procedure Work?

Cryo-surgery makes use of liquid nitrogen. This gas, which makes up about 80% of the atmospheric gases, has the capability of offering ultra-freezing temperatures. Since nitrogen is one of the inert gases, it doesn’t react with anything, and it’s also not flammable.

Like any other gas, nitrogen becomes liquid when subjected to extreme pressure. As a liquid, nitrogen can produce extremely cold temperatures of up to -196° Celsius.

When the ultra-cold nitrogen gas is applied to a keloid, it works to freeze and destroy the keloid tissue. The procedure has a high efficacy level, with the treated keloids having a significantly low recurrence level.

The good thing here is, the procedure can be used on almost any keloid at any part of your body. Whether it’s an ear keloid, arm, or chest keloids, cryotherapy for keloids offers positive results when done well.


How Efficient is Cryotherapy for Keloids?

NCBI’s study noted that the keloids’ average flattening was 30.76% and 58.13% after the 3rd and 6th sessions, respectively. The age of various keloids under the study, as well as their size and thickness, greatly influenced the efficacy of the procedure.

These results show that if the procedure is done right, and at a certain age of the keloid, cryotherapy can produce quite amazing results. However, more studies are still desired to determine this procedure’s exact efficiency level and its major side effects.


What Happens After the Procedure?

Once you’ve undergone those cryotherapy sessions, the first thing that happens to the treated keloid is that it swells. Both the keloid and the surrounding skin form an extensive blister that might grow up to two times the size of your original keloid. At this stage, it’s advisable to cover the blister with paper tapes or medical absorbent pads to protect the area for a few days.

After this, the inflamed keloid starts to ooze a yellowish or blood-stained fluid.  Luckily, both the swelling and oozing do not last for long. It might go on for around 5-7 days, with the level of oozing depending on the keloid’s size.

After this, the inflammation gradually starts to rescind and heal, forming a dark shell. This continues for a few weeks, with the keloid drying up and contracting to become even smaller in size.

After around 2-3 weeks, the drying keloid shell starts to detach from the rest of the skin. Gradually, it will completely get detached and fall off after around 4-6 weeks. 

One thing you should, however never do, is to forcefully try to separate the shell yourself. Let it fall off naturally, and the healing process to take its course. If you follow the doctor’s directions to the letter, you can be sure to have a smooth healing process.

However, if the oozing becomes too much or you experience extreme pain, make sure that you contact your doctor.


Other Benefits of Cryotherapy

Besides treating keloids and several other skin conditions, cryotherapy can provide many other health benefits. Some of the most common ones include:

  • Treating Mood Disorders

The freezing temperatures used in cryotherapy can help to trigger hormonal reactions. The release of certain hormones such as adrenaline, endorphins, and noradrenaline, will certainly have a positive influence on people suffering from mood disorders such as anxiety or depression.

This is according to a study that showed how WBCT (whole-body cryotherapy) had been used since the early 1970s to treat Rheumatism.

  • Reduction of Migraine Symptoms

In another study, it shows that cryotherapy is also quite effective in treating migraines. The cold temperatures work by numbing the nerves in your neck area, and thus reducing even the severe migraines.

The study found out that by wrapping the neck with some frozen ice packs around the carotid arteries, it can help significantly in reducing the migraine pain.

  • Numbs Nerve Irritation and Reduces Pain

The reason why cryotherapy is common with athletes and sportsmen is its ability to numb nerves. This helps to relieve pain from injuries sustained during these strenuous activities. 

Doctors can use cryotherapy here to remedy strained nerves, relieve chronic pain, or even severe injuries. 

  • Treatment  of Minimal-risk Tumors

Cryotherapy can also be useful in treating some low-risk tumors, including cancerous ones. This process of treating tumors is what is referred to as cryo-surgery, and it usually uses the chilly temperatures to freeze the cancer cells.

However, the procedure is allowed only for low-risk cancer tumors. One type of cancer where cryo-surgery is common is prostate cancer.\


What are the Major Side Effects and Risks Associated with Cryotherapy?

Despite its healing capability, cryotherapy is not without risks and several side effects. Some of the most common ones include:

  • Numbness
  • Redness
  • Skin irritation
  • Tingling effect


  • If you are diabetic or have any nerve-affecting condition, cryotherapy is not for you. This is because you might not fully feel the procedure’s effect, which might, in turn, lead to even greater damage.
  • Only use cold therapy as prescribed, not longer. For instance, localized cryotherapy should never exceed 20 minutes, and a whole-body one shouldn’t exceed four minutes. Anything longer than this can easily cause damage to your skin.



Conclusion on Cryotherapy for Keloids

While cryotherapy for keloids has, in many ways, proven to be an effective keloid treatment method, it can also cause some damages. This means that before you decide to undertake the procedure, ensure that you are fully aware of both the risks and side effects, as well as what happens after the therapy.

You can only achieve this by choosing the right doctor and ensuring that you consult exhaustively about any doubt or issue you might have. All in all, if the procedure is done right, cryotherapy for keloids can be the end to your long-suffering with keloids.

You can also check out the various Medical Silicone Gel treatment methods if you aren’t comfortable with cryotherapy.

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