Dermatologists are doctors who treat conditions that affect the skin, nails, hair, and mucus membranes. They see patients at all stages of life, from infancy to old age, and they not only treat diseases, like acne and skin cancer, but they also help patients improve their appearance through cosmetic treatments. Although there is some overlap between the two, most dermatological procedures can be categorized as medical or cosmetic.
Examples of conditions that require medical dermatological treatment include skin cancer, eczema, psoriasis, vitiligo, warts, rosacea, and acne. To treat skin cancer, a dermatologist first must know how to recognize suspicious lesions. He or she will then perform a biopsy by removing a sample of tissue and analyzing it under a microscope. If the lesion is, in fact, cancer, the dermatologist will excise it, a simple procedure that can be performed in the office. Other types of lesions, such as actinic keratosis, warts, and non-malignant cancers, can be removed with liquid nitrogen cryotherapy, or freezing. Another method dermatologists use to treat cancer is electrodessication and curretage. This procedure involves a type of electrical needle that heats and scrapes away a lesion down to skin level.
Examples of cosmetic dermatology include injectable treatments and laser treatments, both of which are designed to smooth and rejuvenate the skin’s appearance. One of the most common injectables is derived from botulism, a neurotoxin that paralyzes certain facial muscles in order to smooth wrinkles. It is often injected between the eyebrows and around the mouth. Another type of injectable treatment is a dermal filler, designed to fill in wrinkles or sagging skin where sub-dermal fat has been lost. Hyaluronic acid and collagen are two common fillers that can make the face and lips appear fuller and more youthful. Laser treatments use light to stimulate the body’s production of collagen under the skin. They can also be used to remove an outer layer of skin that has acne scars, persistent wrinkles, or excessive pigmentation.
Patients who are seeking either medical or cosmetic dermatology services should learn about the wide variety of options available. More details about dermatological services are available to learn here.