Although moles aren’t usually the end of the world, sometimes you just want to get rid of them, and quick. These groupings of pigmented cells pop up at different times in your life, from birth to old age, and can be almost anywhere on your entire body. Most of them are brown, but they can be a variety of colors like red, black, and even blue-ish – in other words, not pretty. Whether you just hate the look of them or you want to make sure a questionable one doesn’t turn into skin cancer, mole removal is a simple procedure done daily all around the world. One option when it comes to this is the method of freezing the mole, also something called cryosurgery.
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How Do You Freeze Off a Mole?
It might seem crazy that low temperature can destroy an entire mole, but the fact is that it absolutely can – and does! In fact, cryotherapy is a preferred technique above surgery or laser therapy because it is far less invasive and includes a lower chance of infection and scarring.
The procedure is usually done with the help of a physician, most often a dermatologist or primary care doctor. Special equipment is used for the freezing agent, and application is done with a basic cotton swab or other wand instruments. The mole is usually destroyed in its entirety in one visit, but depending on the size of the mole, can take one or two more.
There are also at-home freezing kits available you can buy online or at the store. They come with different ingredients and result times vary, but can still be effective.
Liquid nitrogen as the main ingredient
The ingredient that is the most effective at freezing moles is liquid nitrogen, the most reached-for freezing agent with doctors. Nitrogen, which is usually a gas, turns to liquid when it gets cold enough. And not just regular cold, but extreme cold.
Here’s how it works:
- Liquid nitrogen is stored in special canisters that keep it at its liquid state, which is roughly -330 degrees F.
- Because of the nitrogen’s low boiling point of -325 degrees F, it boils into vapor when it touches anything warmer than that -325 degrees, which is basically anything.
- Before it boils away, its extreme temperature instantly freezes the cells of your mole.
- Crystals form inside the frozen cell, causing it to burst, rupture, or just become too damaged to survive.
- A scab or blister is formed, and your body begins the process of removing the dead tissue and replacing it with healthy skin.
Essentially, liquid nitrogen causes an instant severe frostbite to your mole, killing all of the pigmented cells, which means no more mole for you.
Freezing and surgery aren’t the only ways to get rid of moles. Try laser removal to see how you can remove annoying moles off your body without cutting. Click here to learn more.
What to expect afterwards
A blister or scab usually forms right away after a freezing procedure and will remain there for 2-3 weeks until coming off, at which point you should have newly-formed skin there, without a mole.
Remember not to pick at the scab or blister! Doing so slows the healing process and can cause infection and scarring.
At-Home Freezing Kits vs. a Doctor’s Office
At-home freezing kits have made it possible for many people to get rid of unwanted moles straight from the comfort of their own home. These are good options for those without insurance or access to good medical care. But do they work well enough? How do they compare to an actual doctor’s procedure?
Here are some benefits of using a physician:
- Doctors have access to liquid nitrogen, which is a much more effective freezing agent than the liquid butane in at-home kits. This means you could possibly get rid of your mole in only one single visit.
- These trained professionals also know exactly where to apply the nitrogen to and what to avoid touching, so the risk of damage to healthy skin is less.
- Doctors have numbing agents like lidocaine they can give you to ensure you don’t feel any pain.
- Post-application bandaging is excellent, which helps prevent infections.
Since abnormal moles can lead to skin cancer, make sure to get any ones you find checked out by a doctor. Changes in mole appearance like color, size, and border warrant a closer look to make sure they aren’t cancerous. If you’ve got a mole that is painful, oozing, or bleeding, do not try and remove it yourself, as it could cause much more damage than you might think. Always consult a medical professional for any mole out of the ordinary.
Now that you see what good things come from a professional taking care of your mole, here are some points to know when it comes to the benefits of at-home freezing kits:
- They can be cheaper than paying for a doctor’s visit and procedure, depending on your health insurance.
- You are in control of application and can make sure that every part of your mole is being covered.
- There is no travel or waiting associated with at-home kits, which saves you a ton of time and effort.
- Liquid butane used in kits isn’t quite as cold as nitrogen, so there is less pain at the time of application.
Getting a mole removed isn’t usually free, but it also doesn’t have to be expensive. There are many details available about the cost of mole removal, and you can find some of them right here.
The Side Effects of Freezing Moles
Just because freezing off a mole is pretty straightforward and quick, it doesn’t mean there aren’t any side effects.
Here are some of the things you may experience with freezing a mole:
The bottom line is that freezing mole tissue to death is doing damage, and damage always comes with some kind of side effect, whether it be a mild blister or actual bleeding. But don’t worry – the effects should go away with your mole and not bother you again. If you do happen to have side effects that linger long after your mole is gone, consult a medical professional for advice.
If you have a mole that needs to come off, consider freezing. It’s among the cheaper options and is less invasive, giving you faster healing with awesome results.
You can find further details of Mole removal methods here.