Dermatology focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of conditions related to the skin, hair, and nails. It also focuses on maintaining the health of your skin.
Dr. Monica Halem is a Board Certified Dermatologists in New York who has trained in this area for many years, making her an expert in all things related to skin, hair, and nails.
What is a dermatologist?
A dermatologist (dur-meh-tol-uh-jist) is a doctor who specializes in treating the:
- Mucous membranes (e.g., lining inside the mouth, nose, and eyelids)
Dermatologists diagnose and treat more than 3,000 different diseases. These diseases include skin cancer, eczema, acne, psoriasis, and nail infections.
Dermatologists also improve the appearance of their patients’ skin, hair, and nails. For example, a dermatologist can help patients:
- Diminish wrinkles, age spots, and other signs of aging.
- Have less noticeable acne scars.
- Look more like themselves after surgery to remove skin cancer.
Dermatologists see patients of all ages — from newborns to people older than 100 years of age.
What is a cosmetic dermatologist?
The term “cosmetic dermatologist” often causes confusion. To understand this term, it helps to know that all dermatologists receive training in:
- Medical dermatology: Diagnose, treat, and prevent diseases that affect the skin, hair and nails.
- Dermatopathology: Diagnose diseases that affect the skin, hair, and nails by removing a sample and examining the sample with a microscope.
- Surgical dermatology: Treat diseases that affect the skin, hair, and nails by using a surgical procedure.
- Cosmetic dermatology: Treat the skin, hair, or nails using a treatment that is meant to improve a patient’s appearance rather than treat a disease.
Many dermatologists perform all of the above. Examples of treatments dermatologists perform that fall into the area of cosmetic dermatology include:
- Surgery to diminish acne scars.
- Injecting fillers and botulinum toxins to give an aging face a more youthful appearance.
- Laser surgery to diminish or remove small veins, age spots, tattoos, or wrinkles.
What it takes to become a cosmetic dermatologist?
One can practice cosmetic dermatology by becoming a dermatologist. To become a dermatologist requires many years of education. A person must successfully complete:
- College, earning a bachelor’s degree.
- Medical school, becoming a medical doctor (MD) or doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO).
- Internship, 1 year.
- Residency program in dermatology, at least 3 years.
After becoming a dermatologist, some doctors choose to continue their medical education. This advanced education is called a fellowship. A fellowship in procedural dermatology or cosmetic/aesthetic dermatology provides advanced surgical training.
A fellowship in procedural dermatology usually takes one year to complete. It includes training in medical and cosmetic surgery. During this fellowship, a dermatologist may develop advanced skills in:
- Mohs (pronounced “moes”) surgery, specialized treatment for skin cancer.
- Reconstructive surgery to treat wounds caused by surgery to remove skin cancer.
- Injection of fillers and botulinum toxins.
- Sclerotherapy (treatment for veins).
- Chemical peels.
- Hair transplantation.
- Tumescent liposuction (removes small amount of fat while the patient remains awake).
- Laser surgery.
Because dermatologists know so much about cosmetic surgery, they have made important contributions to this area of medicine. Dermatologists developed:
- Tumescent liposuction, which greatly improves patient safety.
- A way to transplant hair that gives patients a natural-looking hairline.
- Advances in the use of many lasers.
- Improvements in the use of fillers and botulinum toxins.
Doctors who do not receive training in cosmetic procedures during their residency also offer cosmetic procedures. Even aestheticians offer cosmetic procedures. It is important to know that the quality and safety of the procedure depends largely on the skill of the person performing the procedure.