Liquid nitrogen. Ouch!

So I’m in the dermatologist’s office this morning, and I ask him to remove this big mole thing on my back that’s bothering me. I expect a little Novocaine, a little slice with a scalpel. Instead, he says, “Okay. This will hurt.”

He grabs a bottle, starts spraying something on my back (“Um, yeah, Doc. This is just a wee bit uncomfortable. OW!”), and then peels the mole off like a band-aid.

“Okay. We’re done. Keep it covered - it may leak on your shirts for a few days.”

“What is that stuff?”

“Liquid nitrogen. -321°F.”

From the time I asked him to remove it until the time he was slapping a bandage on it was probably 90 seconds.

I really did not expect that. Is that how they always do it these days?

I believe they almost always use liquid nitrogen now when they don’t consider the lesion suspicious. I had a wart-like growth taken off my elbow that way not long ago. Works like a charm and has less chance of infection than an excision, plus no suture removal necessary. I’m guessing it also reduces the likelihood of the growth recurring since it basically cauterizes the skin.

When I was 12 I had planters warts on six toes. The doctor burned them off with liquid nitrogen. THAT fucking hurt. Worked though.

I used to get warts on my hands (this was back in the 80s)… several times I went to get them burned off with liquid nitrogen. They’d do about 5 or 6 of them at a sitting… dip a Q-Tip into the bottle, then press it to the wart… PSSSSSSS!!! By the end I’d be sweating like a pig.

Electrocauterization might also be used in some situations.

My mother’s suspicious spot was not a mole, but her dermatologist cut it out and slapped a bandage on it.

The bandage in question was entirely inadequate to stop the flow of blood, and to add insult to injury, my mother was wearing white pants.

Fortunately, the blood came out of the pants.

Just be glad it wasn’t a rabbit on your back.
…or a kitten.

They’ve been doing this for a long time. You can get an over the counter version of this, and some people use dry ice, but neither is as cold as the nitrogen, and aren’t as effective. Moles are tougher than some other skin growths because they have a root that grows down into the skin. There’s also a caustic substance you can use which is effective on moles. Many caustic substances will remove warts, skin tags, and other growths, but will be ineffective on moles.

When you go to the doctor, tell him/her that the mole (or other growth) gets irritated, and/or inflamed, and/or bleeds from catching on your clothes, or bumping into it. That way the removal will be covered by insurance.

I have dysplastic nevi removed every six months or so…it’s a shot and scalpel for me.

Any reason they can’t shoot a drop or two of novocaine into a mole or wart before doing this painful freeze?

I’ve had things removed by both freezing and frying. The laser is a sharper pain during the procedure, but it’s more accurate and it hurts less (as in, not at all) afterwards, so I prefer the laser when possible.

That’s what they used for the warts I’ve had removed (back in the late Stone Age). Couple shots of Novacaine, then ram a soldering iron into the wart.

I’ve had two different forms of cancer in the last 7 years, and my family has a history of melanoma. No problem getting it covered by insurance!

I suspect that because the novocaine shot itself hurts almost as much as the liquid nitrogen and takes a certain amount of time to take effect and then wear off, the doctor would just as soon skip it.

I also suspect that if you threatened to scream at the top of your lungs when the liquid nitrogen hit your mole, your doctor would consider administering some novocaine.

That was probably silver nitrate. Liquid nitrogen is always a spray.

When my husband goes to the doctor, they take the liquid nitrogen out of the room, because he’s been known to play with it, freeze the nozzle open and empty the canister. Pissing the doctor off. :D:eek:

That’s how they used to do liquid nitrogen. A swap was dipped in the liquid, then applied to a growth. I had a wart on my arm removed that way in the early 70’s.

As of about 3 years ago when I was doing my family medicine rotation some docs still use this method. And it was definitely liquid nitrogen not silver nitrate sticks because I’ve used those as well but only to cauterize things that were already bleeding.

Tell that to my dermatologist. He always comes in with a styrofoam cup with liquid nitrogen in it, them daubs it on with a Q-tip.


I remember it being more cold than painful, though. So cold it hurts. Mine didn’t exactly burn off though, I had to keep going back for multiple treatments. I got so fed up with it I just dug out the dead planter warts on my feet. The skin was white and dead so I was just quickening the process, I think. Dug out the chunks, had little craters in my feet until the skin filled back in.

Liquid nitrogen is fun stuff :D. Typo Knig once brought a dewar of it to a party: he was in grad school, the party was in the same building as his lab, and he used it for his research. I don’t remember how many things we froze and then smashed. Ketchup packet contents turn into pale orange powder, for what that’s worth.

Of course on another occasion, he was working, kneeling on the floor, didn’t realize some LN was spilling… and wound up with freezer burn on both knees. Large, crescent-shaped blisters formed. He felt like a moron.