Patients seeking help for dermatology in Albuquerque should search for a true dermatologist. This may seem obvious, but Western Dermatology Consultants has been emphasizing the distinction for the general public in light of the fact that non-physicians providing skin care services sometimes bill themselves as dermatologists, which is misleading—and can have consequences for patients who are not careful.
First, a definition: Dermatologists are physicians with education and training specifically in treating cosmetic and medical conditions that impact the skin, hair, nails, and related mucous membranes. All doctors must acquire an undergraduate degree, acquire a medical degree, complete a residency, and obtain licensure. Beyond this, dermatologists undergo training related to skin inflammations, the ways diseases manifest in the skin, skin-specific surgical techniques, skin biopsies, and diagnosing and treating skin cancer.
Board certification is a voluntary next step many dermatologists take, as the process involves evaluations that demand the doctor meet high professional knowledge and ethical standards, frequently determined through tests and peer reviews.
The years of formal education, rigorous training, and intense bureaucratic and professional oversight separate dermatologists from non-dermatologist physicians and nurses who happen to set up shop to take care of skin.
Why does this matter? Dermatologists are trained in the most current techniques for preserving both the aesthetics and health of skin, and many bolster that education with further training and licensing to use specific products, such as BOTOX® Cosmetic, a powerful injectable derived from botulinum toxin, used to prevent contractions in specific muscles that cause wrinkles—like forehead lines and crow’s feet—to appear. They may also study advanced techniques, such as Mohs micrographic surgery for effectively removing certain types of skin cancer while preserving the maximum amount of healthy tissue possible.
Consider, too, skin cancer screenings. Given that an accurate and timely diagnosis can literally be a matter of life or death, it is imperative that a screening be performed only by a dermatologist or a physician assistant directly trained and overseen by a dermatologist (who will step in as necessary).
Basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma both have high cure rates and can generally be treated without much concern of further risk to health, but melanoma—a more aggressive and fatal form of skin cancer—can readily spread beyond the skin, making it more difficult to treat. Catching melanoma early is crucial for maximizing a patient’s ongoing health and chances of recovery. These potential consequences alone should prompt anyone looking for skin care to choose a dermatologist.
How can the average person tell who is a dermatologist and who isn’t? These days online research can be a fast and easy way to get at least the basic facts about a potential caregiver. Professional organizations, such as the American Academy of Dermatology, often maintain searchable databases that allow results to be filtered by zip code, city, state, doctor name, and other criteria. Entering in a hometown should result in an automatically generated list of confirmed nearby licensed dermatologists.
Consultations also represent excellent opportunities to learn more about the person who may be providing cosmetic or medical care. While these meetings give doctors a chance to more closely examine and understand a person’s physical characteristics and how they relate to cosmetic goals, they are also intended as a time for the doctor to answer questions on everything from treatment specifics to personal education background and experience.
Once satisfied with their choice of a provider, patients can rest assured that they are now in the hands of a practitioner of one of the safest branches of medicine. Note that dermatologists are not just for treating skin conditions, but also providing guidance in an effort to prevent their development in the first place. Any dermatologist or properly trained and physician-supervised physician assistant should be able to offer advice on anything from a personalized skincare regimen that can stave off early signs of aging to avoiding factors that increase the risk of the development of skin cancer. (Hint: Learn how to properly apply an adequate sunscreen, and wear it every day.)
Speak to a board-certified dermatologist to learn more about anything mentioned here by calling Western Dermatology Consultants in Albuquerque at (505) 855-5503 or (505) 897-1313, or visiting www.westerndermatology.com.