What To Expect At A Dermatologist Appointment

The Patient Visit Experience at BHSkin Dermatology: A Step by Step Guide on What To Expect

Updated on October 12, 2022, by Don Mehrabi

Satisfying patient-doctor relationships are not built overnight, but they start with the initial clinic encounter. That first meeting allows you to get to know your physician. Likewise, it enables the latter to obtain critical information that will help them give you the best care possible.


At BHSkin Dermatology, we know that everyone requires a different path toward skin health and beauty. The initial consultation gives you and your provider a good place to start. Knowing what to expect at a dermatologist appointment, even if it’s just your first one, helps ensure you get cared for thoroughly and efficiently. 

In this article, we walk you through our clinic’s process so you can have a smooth and pleasant experience during your dermatology visits.

Your Initial Phone Call

When you first call our office, you will speak with one of our friendly and professional receptionists. They will collect basic demographic details about you. They will also ask for your insurance information to verify your coverage. We accept a wide range of insurance plans, including:

  • Aetna
  • Anthem
  • Cigna
  • Humana
  • UnitedHealthcare

And more.

Appointments in Glendale, Encino, or Remote

After getting the above information, our receptionists will work with you to set up a convenient appointment. You may schedule face-to-face consultations at our Glendale or Encino office. But if you cannot come to us, you may use our teledermatology platform for remote checkups.

We offer HIPAA and HITECH-compliant online dermatology consultations for new and existing patients. Our online dermatology consultations are perfect for:

  • Simple skin issues where the diagnosis does not need to be confirmed by direct physical contact or a diagnostic test
  • Busy professionals or homemakers with little time to come to our office
  • Travelers who are unable to come into the office
  • Consultations for Botox and other cosmetic dermatology services
  • Simple follow-up visits for established clients

Rest assured that we shall maintain your medical information’s accuracy, privacy and security when you use our virtual portal.


Convenient Booking—Because Your Time is Valuable to Us

We know that our patients’ time is extremely valuable, so we strive to ensure that you can easily book with us via phone or on our website. Our convenient and accessible services are just a click away.

Before Your Appointment

Preparing well helps ensure that everything goes as planned during your dermatology appointment. Here’s what you need to know.

Gentle Reminders Before Your Appointment

We realize that sometimes busy people lose track of their calendars and schedules. To help you avoid this, we’ll send you an automated text message reminder three days before your appointment as a gentle nudge. Also, one of our staff members will call to speak with you the day before your appointment.

During that conversation, we will remind you of your appointment time. We will also make sure that you know how to get to our offices and the available parking options. This helps reduce stress and keep you on time for your appointment. If you have questions before you meet your doctor, you’ll have the opportunity to ask them at that point.

What Else Should You Do Before Your Dermatology Visit?

People who come to our clinic are either referred by a primary care physician or confident that only a dermatologist can solve their skin problems for good. So they already have a wealth of information to share with their skin care specialist even before their initial encounter.

The first consultation is potentially lengthy because of all the unknowns needing to be asked. Simple cases may take 30-45 minutes, while complex ones may take up to an hour or more. But the following can help you ensure the smooth flow of your dermatologist visit:

  • If you were referred to us, it’s best to obtain a referral letter and medical records from your primary care physician. These documents give the specialist an idea of what kind of skin issue you have and where to start looking for clues to determine the right treatment.
  • Bring a list of your current medications and skin care products. Alternatively, you may bring their packets to the clinic in a neat bag.
  • You may perform a full-body skin exam before your appointment, marking the problem areas you want to ask the dermatologist about. Use a washable marker when you do this.


  • It is always best to give your dermatologist a clear view of your skin. Take a shower before your appointment. Wear comfortable clothing so you can slip easily into an examination gown. Do not use nail polish or makeup, which can hide potentially critical evidence your doctor needs to find. 
  • Take your medications, including skin care products, as scheduled. Your dermatologist needs to know their effects on your skin.

It is okay to bring all your skin concerns to the doctor’s attention at this time, but expect them to prioritize the primary reason for your consultation. Doing so helps them care for you more efficiently. However, they will take note of the other issues and address them on follow-up.

The Day of Your Appointment

On the day of your appointment, we suggest arriving 15 minutes early. This allows you to fill out the necessary paperwork without feeling crunched for time. Generally, you will have three to four pages of paperwork to complete. This helps us collect additional demographic information, as well as your past medical history.

In The Exam Room

During your session, your BHSkin Dermatology specialist will give you their undivided attention. They will first review your personal information and confirm vital parts of your medical history. They will then ask further questions about the chief reason that brought you to the clinic.

After taking your history, the doctor will perform a physical examination. If this is the first time you’re seeing one of our specialists, expect a full-body skin check. You will be given enough time to change into a fresh exam gown before the doctor starts.

The dermatologist’s initial physical examination is very important. Here, they will get a baseline assessment, which will impact all future treatments. You wouldn’t want your skin doctor to be the last to know about your skin problems. But you may talk to your dermatologist if you want to decline the examination of your private areas.

One of the compliments most commonly given by our patients is that they never feel rushed by their BHSkin Dermatology specialist. They always leave feeling focused on and genuinely cared for and that their questions are answered. This is so important in building long-term, positive patient-provider relationships.


Addressing Your Initial Concerns

After completing your examination, your dermatologist will discuss their findings. They will first focus on the main problem that prompted your visit.

Many skin conditions are easily recognized at first glance. In such cases, the specialist may go through the possible treatment options without confirmatory testing.

Meanwhile, for others, blood and tissue specimen tests will be carried out right away if they are available at the clinic. If not, the doctor will give a prescription for the tests so they can be performed at another qualified lab. Diagnostic procedures like biopsies are usually done on follow-up. 

Your provider will take the time to answer any questions you may have. Medical information can be overwhelming, so we’ll provide educational materials you can bring home and review.

Comprehensive, Thorough Care

We believe that skin health needs to be comprehensive, which is why we look at more than just your initial concerns. One cannot simply treat a blemish or a rash. Instead, the provider needs to treat the whole patient.

For example, skin cancer, of all types, is a growing concern in all patient demographics. So your provider will look for rogue moles or other skin cancer indicators. They will perform biopsies if any of these moles are suspicious for skin cancer.

Healthy Habits for At-Home Skincare

Before your session concludes, your dermatologist will discuss healthy habits you can adopt at home. One example is using sunscreen daily. Another is increasing your water intake, as hydration is essential for healthy skin.

Additionally, your specialist may advise you to keep or change your current skin care routine, depending on your goals and what your physical examination reveals. For instance, chronic  eczema patients usually have fragile, dry skin. So they may benefit from ceramide moisturizers, which protect from skin damage. 

Overall, you will be an active partner in your skin care process.

After Your Appointment

Before you leave, our staff will make sure you understand your doctor’s diagnosis and the required plan of action. If you’re prescribed an at-home treatment regimen, we will provide you with a copy of the step-by-step instructions. We will also contact your referring physician if they need feedback from our clinic.

Waiting can be challenging for any patient, especially if the dermatologist is considering a skin cancer diagnosis. But one of our goals is to minimize patient stress. Rest assured that we will call you as soon as your test results are ready and inform you of the earliest possible time to discuss them with your specialist.

Follow-up appointments are necessary so your doctor can:

  • Assess the progress of a prescribed therapy, as in patients on the acne treatment Accutane.
  • Perform diagnostic procedures, e. g. biopsy of a suspicious mole
  • Perform in-office treatments, e. g. laser treatment of a benign skin growth.

Expect your next appointment one to two weeks after the first or as advised by your dermatologist. You may call our clinic if you need help with scheduling or for questions related to your condition. Our friendly staff will be available to assist you during office hours. 

Common Misconceptions About the Dermatology Appointment

Misguided beliefs about dermatology consultations are barriers to treatment. This section dispels some of the most common myths we have encountered.

You Don’t Need to Visit a Dermatologist If You Take Good Care of Your Skin

This false notion can endanger people, especially young individuals. 

For one, skin cancer can develop at any age, even in childhood and adolescence. Young patients may not know their risk factors, and this lack of awareness can lead to late disease detection.

To know more about skin cancer risk factors, you may read our article comparing benign moles to melanoma.

Second, chronic skin conditions appearing during youth can scar people psychologically throughout life. The inappropriate use of skin care products can only worsen the problem.

Third, if you are “prejuvenating” the skin—that is, using cosmetic treatments well before the signs of aging show up—you will need the guidance of a skin care specialist. Exaggerated marketing claims abound online, while some websites sell outright harmful skin care products. You need the dermatologist’s expertise to know which prejuvenating treatments suit you.

Bottomline, only a dermatologist can help you ensure that you really are taking good care of your skin.

Navigating skin care products on your own can do more harm than good
Navigating skin care products on your own can do more harm than good

I Have Skin of Color, So I Can Skip the Annual Dermatology Visit

Heavy pigmentation provides sun protection to people with skin of color, making them less skin cancer-prone. However, sun exposure is not the only risk factor for developing this illness. Smoking, a personal or family history of any cancer type, food, pollution and having skin with big or multiple moles are just a few things that can increase your vulnerability to skin cancer.

High-risk patients are generally advised to have a monthly self-skin exam and dermatology visit even at a young age. Others must include skin cancer screening in their annual health exams.

Visiting a Dermatologist for a Mild Rash or Acne Is Overkill

No skin problem is too simple for the dermatologist. In fact, going to these specialists for all your skin concerns gives you more value for every healthcare dollar you spend.

When you see a board-certified dermatologist for a skin issue, you are assured of having the correct diagnosis. And from there, the most effective and virtually scar-free treatment.

Dermatologists can identify lesions that other healthcare professionals are likely to miss and mishandle. They will also educate you on the best ways to prevent the recurrence of your skin problems.

Estheticians Can Replace Dermatologists

Estheticians are not trained to diagnose disease. Neither do they have a scientific expert’s understanding of skin treatments, be it Botox, chemical peels, IPL photofacials or what have you. To ensure the safety and effectiveness of your skin regimens, trust only a board-certified dermatologist.

You Cannot Wear Lotion to a Dermatologist Appointment

Lotions will moisturize your skin but will not hinder your doctor’s skin exam. So it’s okay to apply some before your appointment.

Additionally, if you’re using other skin treatments to control flares, e. g. corticosteroid creams for eczema, you should put them on as scheduled. Your dermatologist can determine if such treatments work as intended or should be tweaked in any way.

Teledermatology Is Not As Reliable As In-Person Consultations

Dermatology is a visual specialty. Thanks to telecommunication advances, it’s now possible for your dermatologist to see you remotely and still come up with an accurate diagnosis. However, you will still need to show up in person at the clinic if you require further testing before starting any treatment.

A Dermatologist Provides a Swift Solution to Any Skin Concern

The dermatologist is the best health expert to consult for skin problems. However, some conditions do not resolve right away or unpredictably flare up despite adequate treatment. Examples are rosacea, acne and psoriasis.

So why still go to a dermatologist? Chronic skin problems are the manifestations of lifelong, inherently problematic bodily processes. You’d want the surest and safest way to control your symptoms, which other healthcare providers cannot guarantee.

Newer Is Better

Some people ask their doctors about new skin treatments they got wind of online or from friends. Examples are the wrinkle relaxers introduced in the market after Botox and Dysport. But in the medical field, newer is not necessarily better. In fact, newer therapies don’t have the same volume of scientific evidence supporting their safety and effectiveness, unlike their predecessors.

Being lifelong learners, board-certified dermatologists are always up to date when it comes to game-changing therapies. Trust them to recommend only the ones best for you.

Celebrity-Endorsed Treatments Will Work on Everyone

If it’s not a new skin regimen that piques your fancy, it could be an old one made trendy again by a celebrity. And you ask your dermatologist for fear of missing out or believing that anything that works on the famous can also work on you.

But everyone is born differently. And a seemingly excellent therapy for some may be ineffective or harmful to others. Again, when it comes to skin care, trust only a board-certified dermatologist to chart the best course toward your goals.


Clearing up misconceptions about dermatology consultations enables patients to make better decisions regarding their skin health.

Frequently Asked Questions Before a Dermatology Visit

This part will answer commonly-asked questions or elaborate on some areas discussed above.

What Kind of Questions Should You Ask on Your First Dermatology Visit?

Most patients have a long list of skin imperfections they want to improve. But each dermatologist visit will focus only on one or two at a time, even though you’re getting a complete physical exam during the first one. So if you made your appointment with a specific skin condition in mind, your questions must center on getting rid of it quickly and safely and keeping it from coming back.

For example, chronic conditions like rosacea and psoriasis have triggers. You may ask your doctor if some of your routines are causing relapses and if avoidance will control your symptoms. Similarly, if you are being started on a new medication, you must ask about its risks and costs and if it is your best option compared to other treatments.

What Does a Full-Body Skin Check Include?

The skin is the realm of dermatology, and it covers nearly your entire body. So technically, all visible skin surfaces from your head down to your toes are included in a full-body skin exam.

But some patients feel uneasy about having their private areas checked, especially by a doctor of the opposite sex. The thing is, a genital or breast exam could be crucial to diagnosis and disease management.

For example, a thigh melanoma can spread upward. A groin area inspection helps determine if Mohs surgery will suffice or if it must be combined with another skin cancer treatment.

Dermatologists are highly-trained medical professionals, just like gynecologists and urologists. Your doctor will explain to you the importance of this part of the skin exam. But you may decline it for any personal reason and discuss alternatives.

At BHSkin Dermatology, our specialists treat each patient with the highest level of professionalism and utmost respect for their privacy.

Can You Wear Undies for a Full-Body Skin Exam?

Yes, you can leave your undergarments on during a full-body skin check.

How Long Does a Full Skin Exam Take?

Normally, a whole-body skin exam takes 15-20 minutes. It could be longer, depending on the extent of your skin lesions and your doctor’s skill.

Do Dermatologists Look at Your Hair and Nails?

Yes, they do. The hair and nails are examples of what are called “skin appendages.” Their examination is vital if a condition specifically affects them, e. g. autoimmune hair loss or nail fungal infection.


Will the Dermatologist Remove a Mole or Perform Other Procedures on Your First Visit?

Outpatient dermatologic procedures are non-emergency treatments, mole removal included. Though possible, many factors may prevent your dermatologist from performing them on the same day as your initial consultation. The most important ones are the following:

  • The need for medical clearance in patients with chronic health conditions
  • The need to rule out skin cancer or determine the extent of its spread
  • The scheduling limitations of the clinic and the doctor

At BHSkin Dermatology, your time is important to us, so rest assured we will get you the most convenient doctor appointments.

Does Insurance Cover Dermatology Visits?

Health insurance covers dermatology consultations and treatments if they address time-sensitive health issues, e. g. skin cancer and psoriasis. Cosmetic treatments like Botox eyelid lifts are not.

However, some cosmetic procedures may be covered if they are used to remedy skin disease, as in laser surgery for warts or the precancerous actinic keratosis. Ask your insurance provider to be sure.

Good Skin Care Starts with Your First Dermatology Visit

The dermatologist visit is no different than your other doctor visits, except it focuses on your skin. The initial one is highly important, being the starting point of your journey toward flawless, healthy skin. Your dermatologist is duty-bound at this point to obtain all the information they think is essential to your care. Adequate preparation helps ensure that you get a highly satisfactory consultation experience.

Finally, false beliefs about dermatology visits can keep patients from getting properly treated for their skin problems. Dispelling them improves health-seeking behaviors and quality of life. If you have any concerns before booking your first dermatology appointment, call our clinic and let our medical staff assist you.


Book an Appointment with LA’s Top Dermatologists

The best patient experience is, of course, one that unquestionably leads to significant health improvement. Most skin blemishes do not pose serious health risks. But life-threatening ones can easily be mistaken for a harmless condition by inexperienced providers. A bona fide skin care expert is your best hope for avoiding treatment mishaps.

At BHSkin Dermatology, our specialists are some of the best in California. We offer a wide range of services to meet countless skin health needs. Add our warm, dependable medical staff, and you got yourself an incomparable treatment experience. Visit us at our Glendale or Encino office or use our telederm portal for your initial consultation.

Healthy skin is our priority at BHSkin Dermatology. Book your appointment today!


Author: Don Mehrabi

Don Mehrabi, MD, FAAD, is LA’s leading board-certified dermatologist who treats patients, builds the BHSkin clinics, and raises three kids. This blog builds on medical studies combined with Dr. Mehrabi's first-hand experiences from practicing in Encino-Tarzana, Glendale, and online

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