What Is a Dermatologist?

acne-1606765__340.jpg What Is a Dermatologist?

Not everyone who offers skin treatments is a dermatologist. Med-spas and salons abound these days, but just because the people who work there may provide peels—or even offer injections—their service do not necessarily mean they know dermatology. New Jersey’s Dr. Deborah Spey, Dr. Kimberly Ruhl, and Dr. Rachael Hartman, all of whom are board-certified dermatologists at Advanced Dermatology & Skin Care in West Orange, regularly emphasize to their patients the importance of not only choosing the right treatments for their skin, but also choosing the right provider.


The American Academy of Dermatology likewise emphasizes how critical choosing a board-certified dermatologist is, considering the physicians specialize in skin, hair, and nails.


One of the primary attributes setting a dermatologist apart from others who merely work with skincare is education. To earn the title of “dermatologist,” a person must earn a bachelor’s degree, followed by a medical degree. This is followed by a year-long internship and at least three years of residency in dermatology.


Over their 12 years, dermatologists learn skin inside and out—literally. Board certification rounds out the degree, with the physician required to perform between 12,000 and 16,000 patient care hours. This does not include the time spent on further specialized training, such as Mohs micrographic surgery for effectively treating major forms of skin cancer with minimal cosmetic impact.


All of this translates to a professional with both training and experience specifically dedicated to the skin and related areas.


So what does this have to do with cosmetic treatments? A lot, actually—but two factors in particular: safety and results.


When seeking a cosmetic treatment, most patients have a goal—such as smoother skin or sleeker contours—in mind. Achieving that goal is frequently possible with a plan that may include injections, exfoliation, lasers, and more. A dermatologist can help women and men alike make sense of the range of options available, directing them to the treatments most suited for their goals.


In many cases, dermatologists will also administer those treatments or directly oversee someone else who does, such as a physician assistant, nurse practitioner, or esthetician. Injections are made with care and a thorough understanding of what tissues and structures lie directly beneath the surface.


This knowledge is especially important when working with treatments such as BOTOX® Cosmetic, which is a neuromodulator that prevents muscles from contracting, or Kybella®, which is a compound used for dissolving fats. When injected with precision and care, informed by a rigorous and extensive skin-focused education, the procedures are safe. In the hands of someone with less training and knowledge, however, the risk of unwanted side effects or complications can increase dramatically.


Though health is of primary importance, some patients may overlook a single simple fact: a dermatologist’s understanding of skin physiology allows for more consistent and natural-looking results. Only someone who has studied skin for a significant amount of time will understand how preventing muscle contractions here impacts the look of the skin there, or how fillers injected now will make the face look later. This global understanding allows the dermatologist to truly customize results—not take a cookie-cutter approach.


In short, a board-certified dermatologist aims for the best possible results without compromising patient health. In fact, dermatologists promote patient health in all that they do, from helping create an acne treatment plan to recommending appropriate skin care.


To learn more about the board-certified dermatologists at New Jersey’s Advanced Dermatology & Skin Care, call 973.731.9600 or visit www.drspey.com.