There are different reasons to visit a dermatologist. One of them is when you’re having an issue with your skin, such as discoloration, sunburns, infections, rashes, and many other skin conditions you may deem unusual. The other time is when you need to tighten some sagging skin, get rid of stubborn fat, and other treatments for aesthetic reasons. The big question is, where do you go for help?
The dermatological speciality has two main branches—namely, medical and cosmetic. Both branches deal with helping patients through their skin conditions. This article explains the subtle difference between cosmetic and medical dermatology to help you know which one you might need.
What is cosmetic dermatology?
Also known as aesthetic medicine, cosmetic dermatology is a sub-specialty field in dermatology that focuses on skin improvement to reverse the aging effects on the skin. It’s for patients who desire to maintain a youthful appearance, mainly for cosmetic reasons and purposes. It’s not a treatment for any medical skin condition. Successful cosmetic dermatology can have a significant impact on your self-esteem and mental well-being.
Since cosmetic dermatology is based on want and not need, most insurance policies don’t cater for it. However, its popularity is rising, and the treatment methods and technologies keep advancing. A 2019 survey on dermatological procedures by the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery reported about 10.3 million cosmetic procedures.
Common Cosmetic dermatology procedures
There are many services offered in cosmetic dermatology, including the following:
- Botox injections: Botulinum toxin injection into the skin helps to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Wrinkles are a result of the repetitive contraction of facial muscles. The toxin hinders the release of the chemical responsible for contractions of facial muscles, acetylcholine.
- Dermal fillers – Juvederm, Restylane, Radiesse, Sculptra & Dysport: This involves injecting a solution into the lines and folds on your skin, and it has an immediate volumizing effect. These fillers are in various forms including, autologous, collagen, synthetic, and hyaluronic acid fillers.
- Collagen Stimulating Treatments – SkinPen & Fraxel re:store: These minimally invasive procedures create microinjuries in the skin, whereby inducing collagen formation to tighten and plump the skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and acne scars.
- Skin Exfoliation Treatments – Involves the removal of dead skin cell buildup on the skin surface, improving texture and tone and acne. The various skin exfoliation procedures include, MiraPeel, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, dermaplaning, physical exfoliation.
- Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Therapy – Photofacial: This is the use of light beams of different wavelengths on the skin to stimulate collagen production. It is used to manage sunburns, small moles and vascular spiders, expression lines, and wrinkles.
- Laser Hair Removal – Candela GentleYag: A procedure involving a powerful light source and heat to destroy hair follicles and permanently reduce hair growth.
Non-Invasive Fat Removal- Coolsculpting: This procedure is used for the treatment of stubborn fat. It involves using cold temperature to kill and eliminate fat cells.
What is medical dermatology?
Medical dermatology is the spectrum of dermatology that aims at helping patients with medical conditions affecting their skin, nails, and hair. It involves the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of those conditions. Apart from treating various skin conditions, medical dermatology is also used to maintain healthy skin.
For example, while cosmetic procedures like skin resurfacing reduce the appearance of scarring caused by acne, you may also need to use prescription medicine to maintain your skin. This helps keep control of the reappearance of acne and keep your skin looking healthy. Below are the common skin conditions and their treatments:
- Hair loss: Hereditary hair loss is common, and it affects around 80 million Americans. But hair loss may also arise as a result of other illnesses, stress, or hormonal changes. A dermatologist can determine the root cause of the cause for hair loss and offer the most appropriate treatment.
- Acne: The dermatologist will examine the severity of your acne and base the treatment on the diagnosis. They can use medication, light therapy, laser treatment, or remove cysts.
- Skin infections: Bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses can get into the skin, causing various skin infections. Medical dermatologists help to diagnose the cause of an infection and prescribe the appropriate treatment.
- Skin cancer: Skin cancer can appear anywhere on your skin. According to research, 1 in 5 Americans develops skin cancer by the age of 70 years old. Dermatologists can remove skin cancer cells and keep monitoring your skin to ensure that it doesn’t recur.
- Dermatitis: This is a term used to refer to several skin conditions that cause irritation and inflammation of the skin. They include cradle cap, eczema, itchy skin, skin swelling, blisters, and skin allergies.
- Nail problems: The common nail problems include discoloration, spots, and separation. Most nail disorders are signs of other underlying health conditions that your dermatologist can diagnose.
The purpose of both cosmetic and medical dermatology treatments and procedures is to help give you better skin, hair, and nails. The main difference is that one field focuses on needs and the other one on wants. Issues that are solved through cosmetic dermatology are more for personal confidence and appearance. With medical dermatology, it’s more a health issue, although it also improves confidence and appearance.
To learn more about what skincare is right for you, give us a call or book an appointment. We’re happy to help assist you in taking the best care of your skin!