Medical vs. Cosmetic Dermatologists: Who Do You Make Your Appointments With?

For Glam Media’s The Future of Beauty.

Why do people go to the dermatologist? What sends you to a search engine near you to find an office and make an appointment? There are so many factors at play. Maybe a weird mole or discoloration or rash is causing you concern. Maybe you want to have a tattoo removed. Maybe you’re interested in fillers or injectables. Who do you make an appointment with? As it turns out, that entirely depends on your needs.

black women skincare

Photo source via Google Images

There are two basic kinds of dermatology. Medical dermatology (also sometimes known as dermasurgery), and cosmetic dermatology.

Dr. Carolyn Jacob of Chicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology broke it down for me like this: “Board certified dermatologists complete a residency in dermatology after their med school and internship. They then pass their board certification test. Any Derm can call themselves a cosmetic Derm as some cosmetic procedures are taught at some residency programs. However, some of us have completed fellowship training in cosmetic, laser, and/ or skin cancer surgery and are further sub-specialized,” she said in a recent interview.

You’ll want to make an appointment with a cosmetic dermatologist if you’re investigating tattoo removal, lasers, Botox, fillers or even procedures like liposuction or face lifts. If you’ve got a more serious skin disorder, you’ll want to see a medical derm.

“A medical dermatologist focuses on issues such as skin cancer, rashes, acne and warts. You would want to visit a medical dermatologist once a year to have a full body check to make sure that you don’t have skin cancer or pre-skin cancer. A cosmetic dermatologist focuses more on esthetic issues such as wrinkles, tone and texture of the skin, sagging and undereye circles. If you have any cosmetic concerns, it is best to see a cosmetic dermatologist. However, there are many dermatologists who take pride in doing both. All dermatologists can do both but some prefer to specialize in only one or the other,” explained Amy Forman Taub, MD of Advanced Dermatology.

If you’re really serious about your skincare, it’s recommended that you become intimately familiar with both kinds of dermatologists and make those annual appointments. “Patients should visit a board certified dermatologist yearly for a mole check to look for abnormal moles and skin cancer. Seeing your dermatologist for cosmetic issues regularly helps keep your skin looking great!,” added Dr. Carolyn Jacob.

Good to know!

Have you visited a dermatologist recently? What kind of derm was it, and what made you decide to choose them?

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  1. I am currently searching for a medical dermatologist. I moved to Florida (from dimly lit and mostly covered-up Chicago) this year, and although I am religious about using sunscreen everyday I feel certain for the reasons mentioned by Dr. Jacob that everyone should have a derm that they see at least once a year. One of the largest cancer killers is melanoma, and black folks usually get that type of cancers in places we normally don’t pay a lot of attention to, in between our toes, our hands and around the neck and ear areas. Melanin helps, sunscreen protects, but preventative care and should be added as a defense. In Florida, this is much more prevalent due to indirect and direct sun exposure.

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