Our skin is the largest organ in the human body and is prone to being damaged or impaired by the elements in our environment. Dermatology is defined as the study of skin, hair and nail conditions and our current practice can identify up to 3,000 conditions, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association.
A dermatologist is someone who specializes in the treatment of these conditions, such as psoriasis, skin cancer, and eczema. While some dermatologists study medical issues related to skin, others may address the aesthetic or appearance of the skin, curating cosmetic procedures to elevate one’s skin tone and image.
Cosmetic dermatologists have become more common in the last decade, as the development of technology brings new treatment methods that are minimally invasive and non-surgical. This is a subspecialty in the field of dermatology and often requires additional training, but not necessarily another certification.
What Do Cosmetic Dermatologists Treat?
Because the skin has minimal protective barrier to shield itself from damage, there are several services that address an individual’s concerns about their skin, whether those concerns stem from aging, sun damage, acne or other such conditions. Exercising routinely, having a healthy diet, and using certain skin care products can only accomplish so much in the enhancement of your skin’s appearance.
There are a variety of reasons why people see a cosmetic dermatologist, whether it be dissatisfaction with their current appearance or to get a professional’s input on skin care regimens they should be following. Problems with skin can range from permanent, more complicated conditions such as scarring or tattoos, to conditions like psoriasis or vitiligo.
Every individual has their own unique skin and, with it, comes varying treatments and cures. This is a list of just a few of the issues cosmetic dermatologists address:
- Aging, loose skin
- Sun damage
- Unwanted hair
- Benign moles
- Hyperpigmentation and dark spots
- Rosacea, spider veins, or other vascular lesions.
Cosmetic Dermatology Procedures
The treatment of many skin conditions can be performed in a variety of ways and will usually require a consultation with a licensed and practicing dermatologist. They will be able to recognize problems concerning your skin’s health, recommend certain procedures and prescribe medication to incorporate into your daily skin care routine.
“While it is possible to target undesirable skin conditions through a proper skin care regimen at home,” says Dr. Lindsay Clark, MD, medical director and CEO of Enhance Medical Group, “DIY’s and simple experimentation at home cannot fully target the underlying complications and without the appropriate knowledge of product ingredients being used, it may do more harm than good.”
Depending on the severity and complexity of the individual’s skin problem, cosmetic dermatologists may use certain treatments such as chemical peels and lasers or treat with a combination of procedures to achieve the desired outcome.
While the name of the procedure may sound daunting, there are many benefits to getting a chemical peel done professionally by your dermatologist. The process helps remove the top layer of the skin and stimulates the generation of new skin cells, brightening one’s appearance. Examples of chemical agents used are alpha-hydroxy acids such as glycolic acid, lactic acid, and salicylic acid.
Each chemical substance reaches different depths of the skin, addressing the following issues:
- Fine lines and wrinkles
- Hyperpigmentation and dark spots
- Acne breakouts and scarring
- Rough skin texture
- Sun damage
Your dermatologist may use a combination of different chemical agents after assessing your skin type and sensitivity to the product. While there are at-home products available for chemical peels, this should always be done after thorough research and at one’s own risk. It is highly recommended to leave chemical peels to the professionals, as the procedure may cause even more damage than you initially began with, such as burning and darkening of the skin.
Laser surgery uses powerful, corrective beams of light to address more serious flaws on the skin that are harder to treat. The high-power light causes a controlled injury that induces a healing process that is natural to the body, thereby improving the overall appearance of the skin.
Various laser treatments are available to address both medical conditions and cosmetic issues such as the following:
- Stretch marks
- Atrophic acne scarring
- Loose and saggy skin
These are among a few conditions that laser treatments can address, but the possibilities of this new technological advancement in dermatology are vast. Cosmetic treatments, although done as a licensed practice, are not covered by health insurance and can be quite expensive paying out of pocket. Laser treatments can be worth it in the long run as the effects are usually long-lasting and only require a few sessions to fully treat the condition.
This is an invasive procedure that removes the subcutaneous fat produced usually from a bad diet or lack of exercise. Liposuction is a common example of a type of contouring that people can opt for, which involves vacuuming out fat tissue and is performed under anesthesia. This creates areas that sag, which can take several months to heal on their own. Procedures like laser treatment can help expedite the healing process.
Alternatives for contouring that do not require an invasive surgical procedure include cryolipolysis, ultrasound, diathermy, mesotherapy, and radiofrequency. These are just some of the options available, but body contouring should not be a substitute for long-term weight reduction strategies a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Do I Need to See a Cosmetic Dermatologist?
If you have considered scheduling an appointment with your local cosmetic dermatologist, psychologists will tell you that you are not alone. There are many reasons people choose to get a professional’s help to achieve their desired image. One can argue that media and advertising is playing an adverse role on our self-perception of beauty.
Some common reasons people might choose to see a cosmetic dermatologist could be to feel more accepted by peers, increase one’s confidence, recapture that youthful look, over just looking for other ways to love themselves.
If you are worried about a particular skin condition, whether it be an itchy rash or cystic acne, a visit to your local dermatology clinic or medspa may be in order.
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