Does cryosurgery (liquid nitrogen) work for brown spots?

Dr Irwin; Thanks for your informative internet chat with Paula Begoun. How do you feel about cryosurgery for facial brown spot removal? I have had 5 laser treatments which have worked to some degree; but I have 2 stubborn spots which were only lightened. I have had cryosurgery before, but the brown spots returned in the same location. I am 54, and am vigilant about daily sunscreen protection. I don't have any wrinkle issues; I'm lucky in that regard. But the brown spots are driving me crazy ! I have tried everything, including 4% hydroquinone. Cryosurgery seems to work more quickly than laser treatment; would you disagree? Thanks for your honest manner; I so appreciate that! Gail

Liquid nitrogen (cryosurgery) is used for a lot of different purposes in dermatology including, sometimes, removing brown spots. It does work!  There are problems with it though when used for cosmetic purposes because it often leaves a residual white spot or small scar which can be as annoying as the brown spot was in the first place.   I still use it with my patients sometimes very lightly, when there is a resistant lentigo (flat brown spot) or an early benign keratosis (raised brown spot that’s not precancerous).  We often then use a laser also to really get the skin color uniform.  Many dermatologists who do cosmetic work will use combinations like this. 

In my opinion, using liquid nitrogen alone doesn’t work well because the whole goal cosmetically is to get the skin’s color very even again, and you really can’t do that just spot treating.  Hope this helps.  Dr. I

Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

Ask me your skincare question!

Hi, I’m Dr. Irwin. I believe that consumers deserve a medically trained and unbiased skin care advocate.

  • All our content is written and researched by myself.
  • My medical office in Seattle has treated thousands of patients for 15+ years.
  • This site is not affiliated or financially tied to any product, treatment or device.
Ask Me Something
SkinTour Skincare
One of the best investments in your skin is your daily skincare. Why? Because you can prevent many problems with blotchy skin color, lack of glow, texture, some types of acne, and fine lines with good skincare products. You can also correct some of these problems with effective skincare products. Great skincare is often more expensive because quality ingredients are expensive. Some companies spend on research/development which benefits all of us and adds to the cost. Are they worth it? In general - yes! I have handpicked some of what I consider to be the best skin care products, and offer them for sale on SkinTour's shop. This is based on my team and I's testing and research at our clinic. Many of the products are in my own regimen. What could be better than using skin care products a dermatologist uses?!