Dermatologists are health care specialists who treat patients’ skin, hair, and nails. They often educate the public on a range of health care concerns that affect these areas of the body. These doctors offer a variety of dermatology services to their clients from treatment of relatively minor issues such as toenail fungus to major illnesses such as skin cancer.
Dermatology services usually cover basic skin care. Dermatologists are great resources for getting information about skin care products that will work well to cleanse and protect the skin. For people suffering from severe acne, a dermatologist can prescribe medication to help clear it up if over-the-counter products are not working. Dermatologists can help resolve skin problems like eczema, a flaky, itchy skin condition that can be difficult to treat. They can remove warts and cysts as well as reduce the appearance of scars and skin discolorations. While these issues may not have a profound effect on the patient’s health, they can interfere with the patient’s quality of life.
More serious problems, like checking for and treating skin cancer can also be handled at a dermatologist’s office. Dermatology services related to skin cancer usually involve a complete head-to-toe screening. Dermatologists are trained to recognize unusual moles and may remove some or all of the suspicious tissue in order to test it for cancerous or pre-cancerous cell growth. Early detection of melanoma greatly increases patient recovery rates.
Other dermatology services are more cosmetic. Dermatologists can provide numerous treatments to reduce the visible effects of aging. Dermatologists can inject patients with Botox®, a diluted toxin that is injected into facial muscles to reduce the amount they can contract, thereby softening wrinkles. They can smooth the skin and reduce the appearance of certain types of spots and scars through chemical peels and dermabrasion. Dermatologists can also give patients collagen injections several times a year to improve firmness and tone of the skin.
In addition to making patients’ faces appear younger, dermatologists can remove vascular structures such as spider veins and varicose veins that make their clients appear older or feel less attractive. Dermatology services may also include laser treatments to remove unwanted tattoos. Most of these services are outpatient treatments given in the dermatologists’ office.
While many skin-related issues can be successfully treated, some will never completely disappear. For example, the appearance of cellulite, stretch marks, and large pores can all be reduced, but never fully eradicated. It’s important to talk to the dermatologist not only about risks associated with these procedures but also realistic expectations for the treatment’s outcome.