What is a dermatologist? What do they do?
A dermatologist is a skin doctor. Most people are aware of that. It is the simplest explanation, and it's true. However, it is not nearly enough to define all that dermatologists do.
Dermatologists primarily look after your skin's health. They also deal with the aesthetic aspect.
They help other specialists diagnose diseases that manifest symptoms on the skin but are not skin-related, and they perform minor surgical procedures.
Those are dermatologists in a nutshell. Still, there is much more to say.
If you want to know how a dermatologist can improve your health and physical appearance, this article has all the details.
The Importance of Dermatology
An entire branch of medical science dedicates to studying and treating skin.
It's called dermatology, and dermatologists are medical specialists in this field.
All of that makes more sense if we understand the importance of skin for general health.
The skin is the largest organ in the human body. It has a much more valuable role than most people know.
We usually only focus on the skin's appearance, but its protective and temperature-regulating functions profoundly affect our immune system.
When it's healthy and functional, the skin acts as a barrier that prevents various pathogens from entering the body.
These include viruses, bacteria, fungi, hazardous chemicals, and pollution particles.
It also helps regulate hydration and temperature.
When the skin is not healthy, it puts our well-being in jeopardy. That's where dermatologists step in.
What are dermatologists?
Dermatologists are medical doctors that specialize in treating conditions that affect skin, hair, and nails.
They train for up to ten years through medical school, internships, residency, and fellowships to become skin specialists.
The usual conditions dermatologists diagnose and treat are:
· Dermatitis (rashes),
· Skin infections,
· Spider and varicose veins,
· Skin cancer, and
· Nail fungus
Dermatologists also manage cosmetic issues, such as hair loss, scars, and age-related skin changes (wrinkles, loss of volume, pigmentation changes, etc.).
They also know how to recognize the symptoms of other diseases, such as liver disease or STIs, and they can perform biopsies (tissue sampling) and minor surgery.
What does a visit to a dermatologist look like?
When you see a dermatologist, they will want to look at your skin, hair, and nails and take your medical history.
So, be vary that makeup, nail polish, and certain hairstyles may get in the way.
The complete check-up includes every inch of skin (from scalp to soles), with additional focus on the symptoms you are experiencing (if any).
Sometimes it is not possible to get a diagnosis through visual check-ups only.
In such cases, the doctor might need to run blood analysis, allergy tests, and take skin samples (biopsy) before he can have conclusive findings.
Once a proper diagnosis is in place, a dermatologist will recommend a treatment plan and schedule a follow-up visit.
Dermatologists also perform non-invasive and minimally-invasive aesthetic treatments.
The process is similar.
They will first make sure that your skin is in good shape and that the desired treatment will not harm it in any way.
Aesthetic Treatments Dermatologists Can Perform
In recent years aesthetic medicine treatments are rapidly gaining popularity due to the advancements in non-surgical, minimally-invasive cosmetic procedures.
Dermatologists are the specialists performing these anti-aging beautification techniques that require little or no downtime, have a low risk of complications, and cost considerably less than plastic surgery.
Here are some popular aesthetic treatments dermatologists can perform:
1. Botulinum toxin injection (Botox)
Botulinum toxin injection temporarily (two to six months) facial muscles to smooth out the fine lines and wrinkles in the upper third of the face.
2. Dermal fillers
Dermal fillers add volume to certain parts of the face, such as lips and cheeks, or fill wrinkles.
They may have other regenerative benefits too. Hyaluronic acid fillers, for example, also boost skin hydration and stimulate collagen production.
The longevity of results depends on the type of filler. Some are permanent or long-lasting, and others, such as hyaluronic acid, are temporary (six to twelve months).
3. Thread lifts
Thread lifts are absorbable sutures that facilitate a subtle facelift effect.
The minimally-invasive procedure stimulates collagen production and tightens and firms the skin of the face and neck area with a rejuvenating effect.
Mesotherapy is an injectable treatment that breaks down small pockets of unwanted localized fat to achieve a skin-tightening and rejuvenating effect.
The injections usually contain hormones, vitamins, and plant enzymes.
Mesotherapy is also used to strengthen hair grafts.
5. Platelet-Rich Plasma Injections (PRP)
PRP injections contain a solution rich in the patient's blood platelets.
Due to their healing properties, high concentrations of platelets boost the skin's regenerative potential. PRP injections enhance the skin's health and function.
They may also promote the growth and development of hair transplants, improve wound healing, and boost recovery after joint injury.
6. Chemical peels
A chemical peel is a cosmetic procedure that removes a layer of dead skin cells and promotes the growth of new ones.
Various chemical solutions, such as glycolic acid, salicylic acid, carbolic acid, lactic acid, and trichloroacetic acid, are in use.
The type of acid and the time it spends on the surface of your skin determine the peeling depth (superficial, medium, deep).
The controlled skin trauma triggers the skin's regenerative response. The result is a reduction of age-related damage and improved skin tone.
7. Laser hair removal
Dermatologists can perform permanent hair removal using IPL and laser devices.
The light energy from these devices destroys hair follicles and disrupts hair growth.
8. Hair loss treatment
Your dermatologist can devise and perform hair loss treatments. These can include:
· Oral medications (finasteride),
· Topical treatments (minoxidil),
· PRP scalp injections, and
· Hair transplant surgery.
9. Radiofrequency microneedling
Radiofrequency microneedling devices heat deeper skin layers and cause controlled trauma.
The combination effectively triggers a healing response and promotes the production of elastin and collagen.
The result is tighter and younger-looking skin.
10. Pigmentation treatments
The list is not definite and may include other treatments.
It is invaluable to recognize the role of dermatologists in aesthetic medicine because it often happens that other doctors, such as physicians or medical technicians, perform cosmetic procedures.
That is not a sign of safe and high-quality practice.
Dermatologists are the only specialists with adequate education, experience, and expertise to perform skin, hair, and nail treatments.
The Bottom Line
If you have any skin problems, never hesitate to see a dermatologist.
The issues you are experiencing may be more severe than you think, and it's always better to act early.
Healthy skin is essential for a sturdy immune system, and good-looking skin is a precondition for self-confidence and a higher quality of life.
Your dermatologist can help you achieve both.
· Plachouri KM, Georgiou S. Mesotherapy: Safety profile and management of complications. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2019;18(6):1601-1605. doi:10.1111/jocd.13115
· Kang HY, Lee JW, Papaccio F, Bellei B, Picardo M. Alterations of the pigmentation system in the aging process. Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. 2021;34(4):800-813. doi:10.1111/pcmr.12994
· Emer J. Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP): Current Applications in Dermatology. Skin Therapy Lett. 2019;24(5):1-6.
· Liu MH, Beynet DP, Gharavi NM. Overview of Deep Dermal Fillers. Facial Plast Surg. 2019;35(3):224-229. doi:10.1055/s-0039-1688843