When Cryosurgery Makes You Want to Cry

I don’t complain about much, but I’m going to do it about the overzealous zapping that a dermatology "Fellow" did the other day. He did it on spots on my hands, neck, top of my nose, and my scalp.

I had gone to a Mohs surgeon to see if I needed a biopsy or Mohs on a spot in my left ear. It turned out that I actually needed the procedure on a flaky spot on my right temple. The anesthesia, the only part of the surgery that ever hurts, was less painful than the cryosurgery.

Comparing dermatologists

When my regular dermatologist does it, it doesn’t hurt nearly as much. It’s in part due to her personality and the way she approaches it. She chats with me, and, after any zap that is especially intense, she says she’s sorry.

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When the "Fellow" attacked the spots, I flinched, and I winced. “You have to do each one three times,” he said. My regular doctor might have said, instead, “You poor thing.”

Oozing blisters

The treated spots quickly ballooned into big blisters. The next day, they begged to be popped.

The biggest one, in the middle of my left hand, must have brushed against something because it popped on its own. Fluid oozed out of it. As for the one on my neck, I didn’t realize that I was playing with it until I felt the fluid dripping out.

Sores and sore sights

When I went shopping and looked in the bathroom mirror, I wasn’t happy with the face that looked back at me in the cold, bright light. I mumbled something about the unkind mirror. The woman next to me ignored me. I guess I was looking for sympathy.

I know from experience that an overly intense cryosurgery can leave you with a scar. An area about the size of a dime, on my right hand, is without pigment because a dermatologist gave it a freeze that was too hard. During this recent appointment, I showed the "Fellow" a tiny spot on the edge of the scar. He gave it three big zaps. For all I know, it will lead to a bigger scar. The one I’m most upset about is on my nose. I’m sure I did the wrong thing tonight by digging my fingernail into it.

My blistered nose

An event in our political landscape has deeply upset me. It probably didn’t help to be that upset when I looked at my nose and decided that the blister had to go. I washed the raw red spot with Cetaphil and applied Vaseline. Now I have a red shiny hole on the top of my nose. It is stinging more than the site where the doctor removed a squamous cell cancer.

Camraderie in overdone surgery

Coincidentally while I was writing this, a friend emailed with a photo of her bandaged hand; someone had overdone it with her, too.

When she has gotten a hard freeze on her face, she applies a lot of makeup. I don’t have much makeup, so that’s not an option for me.

It's OK to be unhappy

Hopefully, the areas will heal without scarring. I try to draw on a memory of my father saying, “This too shall pass.” Then I look at the bubbles on my hands and what to me appears to be a crater in my nose, and I'm just plain annoyed. Sometimes it's OK to sit with that.

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