While many of us visit a General Practitioner for medical needs throughout the year, there are times when a medical specialist is required. With skin care, it’s no different – we don’t think about seeing a Dermatologist unless there’s something wrong, and this is unfortunate considering the very important role these specialists play.
Licensed Dermatologists specialize in treating the skin, hair, nails, and mucous membranes. They address commonplace skin conditions, but also treat serious conditions like psoriasis, acne, and various skin cancers. For those who have never seen a Dermatologist, it’s worth following some guidelines in finding someone reputable.
Deciding if you need medical, surgical, or cosmetic dermatology
Chances are your primary care physician would be referring you to a Dermatologist. Like other disciplines, dermatology should be specific to your needs – and these fall under three main categories – medical, surgical, and cosmetic. You’ll realize the best outcomes with a specialist who addresses your specific condition (it may require doing some homework).
Many skin conditions are treated with prescription medication and non-invasive therapies. These are conditions such as acne, psoriasis, and rosacea – all of which are typically beyond the capacity of a primary care physician.
Some dermatological conditions require invasive treatment or surgical intervention – like a benign growth or skin cancer. These types of procedures can take place right in the doctor’s office, or in a professional hospital setting.
Cosmetic Dermatologists specialize in procedures like collagen injections, Botox treatments, and chemical peels. In some cases, they combine cosmetic and surgical procedures (special services like laser surgery and liposuction).
Choosing a Dermatologist who treats people of color (if needed)
Skin color is something that will affect your dermatology needs. If this is you, then it’s key to choose a Dermatologist who is experienced treating people of color. This applies not only to various ethnicities but also to those with dark complexion.
Expertise with different skin colors can be particularly relevant if you’re dealing with scars. Darker skin tones respond differently to treatments like lasers and microneedling. As such, there’s risk in being treated by someone without expertise.
Planning out a payment strategy for your Dermatology services
Like many other health services, it’s important to know if your insurance plan will cover your Dermatology service. This may depend on the service provided and/or the reason for your visit. All of this should be determined when choosing a Dermatologist.
Whether you contact your insurance provider directly, or call the Dermatologist’s office, it’s better to know the extent of your coverage ahead of time to avoid surprises. Typically, for insurance to provide coverage, the service would be either medical or surgical.
Understandably, cosmetic procedures are not usually covered by health insurance. These are considered “elective” and likely not critical for improved health. Chemical peels, which are cosmetic, may be covered when the treatment is considered health related.
Verifying the Dermatologist’s experience, expertise, credentials
There’s no reason to be shy here – it’s absolutely critical to ask a prospective Dermatologist about professional experience, special expertise, and training credentials. Indeed, this is all typically described on the clinic website and in great detail.
If need be, certifications, credentials, and Board Certification can be further verified through various professional associations. The key, of course, is to be personally satisfied that your choice of Dermatologist meets most (if not all) of your needs.
Doing some reflection after the first dermatology appointment
Even after your first dermatology appointment, you’re under no obligation to continue. This is especially true if your patient-doctor relationship is causing you concern. On the flip side, if you feel confident and assured of your choice, you continue.
You should feel secure about sharing important health information. You should be satisfied with the answers provided for your questions. And you should feel good about the various treatment options that are offered (including potential risks).
If you’re currently looking for a Board-Certified Dermatologist in your immediate area, do some homework in choosing the right specialist for your needs. Whether you’re concerned about a specific issue or an unusual symptom, choose carefully.