Does Your Dermatologist Make the Grade?

Just like any other part of the body, the skin requires preventative and specialized care to look its best. Healthy, beautiful skin is best achieved with the guidance of a dermatologist or skin care specialist. Whether you’re taking a proactive step toward healthy skin by scheduling an annual skin check or are interested in a cosmetic procedure, here’s what to look for when selecting a doctor.

CERTIFICATION

All doctors must be licensed to practice medicine in their respective state; however, a board-certified physician takes an extra step beyond medical licensure by becoming certified in one of 24 specialties by the American Board of Medical Specialties.

Board certification by the American Board of Medical Specialties indicates that a doctor has undergone significant training and has expertise in a certain medical specialty or sub-specialty, such as dermatology or dermatopathology. Physicians are required to pass an additional examination conducted by a Board member in their specialty and must take steps to maintain Board certification throughout their years of practice.

Both general and cosmetic dermatologists are certified by the American Board of Dermatology. To find out if your doctor is board certified, visit the American Board of Medical Specialties website.

If you’re seeing another skin care specialist such as an aesthetician, make sure that he or she has significant skill and experience in treating conditions of the skin. Aestheticians are trained in facial aesthetics and undergo a certification exam, and many aestheticians may choose to receive other licensure, such as that of a physician assistant or nurse practitioner.

CREDENTIALS

Many doctors that offer aesthetic treatments have little or no specialized training in these procedures. For example, while an internist has extensive training in treating multiple illnesses of the body, he or she likely lacks the qualifications and experience necessary to perform cosmetic procedures.  

It’s best to visit a board-certified dermatologist or other skin care specialist for any skin treatment or aesthetic procedure. Board-certified plastic and facial plastic surgeons are also qualified to perform these procedures.

COMMUNICATION
The best physicians take the time to listen patiently and address your questions during a thorough consultation. During an aesthetic consult, it’s also important for your doctor to explain pre- and post-procedure protocols so that you know what to expect—and can get the best results from—your treatment.

Patients should feel comfortable asking questions about their doctor’s qualifications. Years of experience, frequency of treating your specific issue, professional affiliations and even references are all valid discussion points that will allow you to get a feel for your doctor’s level of expertise.

Lastly, no doctor should pressure you to undergo a procedure before you feel ready or have had the opportunity to seek a second opinion if desired. If they do, it’s time to walk away.