Medical and Cosmetic Doctors of Dermatology
Dermatologists are specialists in procedures involving the skin, hair
and nails. Dermatology is broken up into two categories. There are
medical doctors of dermatology and cosmetic dermatologists. It’s
important to understand the differences between these two practices
before seeking advice on matters involving hair, skin or nails.
What is a Medical Doctor of Dermatology?
Medical dermatology involves diagnosing and treating diseases that
afflict the hair, skin and nails. Examples of situations that would call
for a medical doctor of dermatology are skin cancer, fungal nail
infections, psoriasis and eczema. There are two similar subsets of
medical dermatology. The first is dermatopathology, which involves
analyzing cell samples taken from the hair, skin or nails of the patient
under a microscope and making a diagnosis based on the results. The
second is surgical dermatology, which focuses on treating the disease,
damaged area or other condition with surgery.
What is Cosmetic Dermatology?
Unlike medical dermatology, cosmetic dermatology focuses on procedures
that improve the patient’s physical appearance rather than diagnosing or
treating diseases and medical conditions. While cosmetic dermatologists
do not focus on medical care, they still need to have completed medical
school, completed at least four years of additional training and
hands-on experience and they have to hold a valid medical license to
perform any procedures.
Some examples of procedures covered by a cosmetic dermatologist are
reducing the appearance of wrinkles, clearing up acne, making scars less
noticeable, removing unwanted hair, cutting off benign skin growths,
lessening the contrast in uneven skin pigmentation and removing tattoos.
Another considerable difference between medical and cosmetic dermatology
involves insurance. Procedures in both practices can become very
expensive. However, many procedures in medical dermatology are covered
by most insurance policies. Since cosmetic dermatological procedures are
almost purely for aesthetic purposes, they are rarely ever covered by
It’s also important to not confuse cosmetic dermatology with plastic
surgery. While cosmetic dermatology has grown to include some slightly
invasive surgical procedures such as eyebrow lifts, eyelid surgery and
even liposuction, the practice does not go into more invasive territory.
Plastic surgery, however, does involve more technical and invasive
cosmetic surgeries such as breast augmentation, face lifts, tummy tucks,
rhinoplasty and more.
To keep your skin healthy and looking great, it’s a good idea to become
familiar with both types of dermatology. Yearly checkups should be made
to your medical dermatologist for suspicious moles and possible signs of
skin diseases and cancer. Consult with a cosmetic dermatologist for any
aesthetic issues that may be affecting your self-esteem and quality of life.