Choosing a Dermatologist

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Choosing a Dermatologist

A dermatologist is a medical doctor who specializes in evaluation and treatment of conditions of the skin, hair, and nails. Dermatologists are also specialists in maintenance of skin health. Dermatologists have a thorough knowledge of medicine and train for many additional years to become experts in the health of skin, hair, and nails. There are more than 3,000 diseases that are treated by dermatologists, including eczema, acne, psoriasis, skin cancer, and nail infections. They are also trained to perform surgical procedures that include biopsies, excision of skin cancer, injection of fillers and neuromodulators like Botox, and the use of cryotherapy to remove skin lesions like warts. Dermatologists have developed many innovative techniques and procedures in cosmetic surgery, including tumescent liposuction, advances in the use of lasers, and techniques to improve hair transplantation.

What is a Board-Certified Dermatologist?

After completion of a year of general medical training and 3 years in an accredited residency program, a dermatologist can take the dermatology board examination to become “board-certified.” Board certification examinations test the knowledge, skills, and experience of the dermatologist. Those dermatologists who are board certified members of the American Academy of Dermatology are designated “Fellows of the American Academy of Dermatology) and may have “FAAD” after their name. Some dermatologists may decide to specialize even more by training in a fellowship in one area of dermatology. Some specialized fields of medical study for dermatologists include cosmetic dermatology, dermatopathology, and Mohs surgery. Most doctors post a biography on their website, so check to see if your doctor is board-certified in dermatology and if he has specialized further in the field.

General and Cosmetic Dermatology

Although all dermatologists have training in medical dermatology, surgical dermatology, cosmetic dermatology, and dermatopathology, some dermatologists have unique training and skills. A general dermatologist can easily treat rashes, acne, or a nail fungus. They often prescribe prescription medications like Retin-A to maintain skin health and beauty. A cosmetic dermatologist specializes in injection of fillers and neuromodulators to improve the aging face. They also perform laser procedures and surgery to revise acne scars and small veins. A cosmetic dermatologist has an additional year of training in cosmetic surgery and procedures, which often include advanced training in chemical peels, sclerotherapy, reconstructive surgery, Mohs surgery for skin cancer, hair transplantation, and tumescent liposuction.

Initial Consultation

The initial consultation is a good opportunity to look around the clinic. Is the staff responsive and friendly? Is the waiting room full? Did you have to schedule a few weeks in advance? If so, that is a good indication that the doctor is in demand. Ask other patients in the waiting room about their experiences. When you meet the dermatologist at an initial cosmetic consultation, tell her why you’re there – what problem you would like to address – but then listen to what he or she suggests. Many patients have researched the topic online, but when choosing a dermatologist, this presents an opportunity to understand their approach and aesthetic philosophy. Ask the dermatologist how often he or she performs the procedure you are considering. A cosmetic dermatologist performs some procedures three to five times a day or more. Find out if your doctor owns laser equipment or rents, since renting equipment may be an indication of less use and experience. It’s especially important to find out who will be performing the procedure. If your doctor says he or she will “supervise” treatments, particularly those with significant potential to cause bad outcomes if not performed with skill, then you should take that into consideration. A nurse or technician does not have the knowledge or training that results from years of focused learning and clinical experience.

Who Should Perform a Cosmetic Procedure?

When deciding upon any cosmetic procedure, it is wise to be aware that complications can range from an unnatural appearance to infection or permanent deformity. Even death can result. It’s important to be confident that your doctor is trained in both the procedure and in how to handle any complications that unexpectedly occur. Cosmetic procedures are offered by many physicians who are not dermatologists, some of whom may have trained only a weekend in the use of fillers or other injectables. Aestheticians and cosmetologists perform cosmetic procedures in some locations. The American Academy of Dermatology policies state that medical cosmetic services should not be delegated to an aesthetician unless competency has been established and there is direct, on-site supervision by a board-certified dermatologist. A dermatologist should have documentation on the training and education of any employee who is performing these tasks.

Schedule Your Consultation

If you are considering a cosmetic procedure, call today for more information. We will be happy to arrange your consultation with a cosmetic dermatologist in one of our convenient locations in Beverly Hills, Encino, or Glendale.

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  1. Annika Larson  April 25, 2017

    My teenage daughter is having some issues with acne. We are looking at taking her to the dermatologist, but we want to make sure we find someone she can feel comfortable with. Like you said, having an initial consultation can help you see what the clinic and staff are like. Thanks for sharing!


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