The skin is the body’s largest organ, and dermatologists specialize in diagnosing and treating the many conditions and diseases that can manifest within it. Dermatologists, however, are not interchangeable. There is a wide variety of advanced training available for dermatologists, and they may specialize further into one of several categories. Choosing the right type of dermatologist for your skincare needs is important for getting the best care for your condition.
Cosmetic dermatologists are specially trained in procedures that improve the appearance of the skin. From removing unwanted hair, to evening skin tone, to fighting wrinkles, cosmetic dermatologists work to keep their patients looking younger and fresher in a safe and effective way. While many of the procedures performed by a cosmetic dermatologist can be purchased in the form of at-home kits, these kits are not always safe and don’t always produce good results. Your cosmetic dermatologist can recommend procedures that are most likely to produce the results you want and perform them in a way that is safe for your skin.
A cosmetic dermatologist is not a plastic surgeon. Cosmetic dermatologists generally limit their practice to procedures that can be performed using lasers, microderm abrasion, injections, and other minimally-invasive procedures, although some dermatologists do minor surgical procedures such as brow lifts. A plastic surgeon, on the other hand, does more invasive procedures that generally require anesthesia, like rhinoplasty (nose jobs), breast augmentation, and face lifts.
Medical dermatologists specialize in diagnosing and treating skin disorders. These can range psoriasis to acne to skin infections. Dermatological disorders can be unsightly and uncomfortable, and medical dermatologists choose treatments such as pills, topical lotions, and other approaches that treat the underlying condition and relieve symptoms so that the patient can feel better. Medical dermatologists are also always on the lookout for other signs of illness; sometimes, systemic diseases can manifest as skin disease. The dermatologist is another line of defense against underlying illnesses that might otherwise go undetected.
For many medical dermatology patients, the skin ailments for which they are seeking treatment have consequences that affect the entire body. Medical dermatologists are trained to understand how disorders of the skin affect other body systems and how the medications they prescribe interact with other drugs the patient may have been prescribed.
Surgical dermatologists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of skin conditions that require surgery for correction. While surgical dermatology is highly concerned with the prevention, diagnosis, and removal of skin cancer, surgical dermatologists also work to correct scars and to repair arteries and veins that may be causing discomfort or an undesirable appearance. There is some overlap, as well, between surgical dermatology and cosmetic dermatology, because surgical dermatologists may perform cosmetic procedures like hair transplants or various facial lifts.
Because so much of what they do involves surgery, which is somewhat invasive, surgical dermatologists are concerned with developing excellent surgical skills in order to minimize scarring, improve the appearance of the skin, and treat skin cancers so that they do not recur. They also work to perform procedures in such a way that patient discomfort is minimized so that patients can go back to their usual activities as quickly as possible.
In many dermatological practices, cosmetic, medical, and surgical dermatologists work together to provide the best patient care. Patients may also be referred to dermatologists with specific skills if needed. Even in an organ as specialized as the skin, there is plenty of room for doctors to focus on a specific area.
Peter Wendt is a writer and researcher living in Austin, Texas. He recommends that readers who wish to learn more about cosmetic and medial dermatologists check out www.vendorlogix.com.