What Does a Cosmetic Dermatologist Do?

Dermatologists are doctors specializing in the treatment of the skin, hair, nails and mucous membranes. Patient ages vary from elderly to newborn babies. 

Googling terms such as, “the best cosmetic dermatologist in New York City” can bring up thousands of suggestions. So, how do you choose the best one?

Our guide will help you source the best cosmetic dermatologist, as well as thoroughly understand what these specialists do and how they can help you. 

What is Dermatology?

Dermatology is a branch of medicine that deals with the knowledge and study of human skin and the disease that affects it. It is also concerned with the prevention of diseases and the preservation of the skin. A doctor who specializes in dermatology is called a Dermatologist. They concentrate on diseases of the skin, hair, nails and mucous membranes.

These organs can be affected by about 3000 different diseases and conditions. Some of the most commonly treated conditions include:

  • Acne 
  • Skin aging
  • Rosacea
  • Rashes
  • Skin cancer
  • Eczema 
  • Hair loss
  • Skin spots
  • Vitiligo
  • Psoriasis
cosmetic dermatologist

What is Cosmetic Dermatology?

Cosmetic dermatology is a subfield of dermatology mainly dedicated to eliminating and attenuating skin scars, optimizing their appearance, minimizing expression lines and wrinkles of old age, as well as attenuating the various skin failures, whether produced by the sun, age or product of previous injuries. A doctor who specializes in cosmetic dermatology is called a Cosmetic Dermatologist.

Specialized Fields within Dermatology

A certified dermatologist can choose to specialize in any of the following advanced fields:

  • Pediatric dermatology – responsible for the treatment of skin diseases in children 
  • Photodiagnostic – dedicated to research and development of new diagnostic methods
  • Dermatological oncology – responsible for the treatment of nail, skin, hair and sweat gland cancer
  • Dermatopathology – studies skin, hair, or nail disorder on a microscopic level
  • Mohs surgery – focuses on treatment/removal of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma
  • Cosmetic dermatology – focuses on improving skin appearance, also carry out cosmetic procedures
  • Mycology – focuses on fungal & yeast infections affecting the skin, nails, and hair
  • Trichology – focuses on diagnosis and treatment of all hair diseases

Cosmetic Dermatology as a Career Path

Cosmetic dermatology has grown to become one of the most vital fields of dermatology. People have become more conscious of their skin and the psychological burden of a skin infection may

impose on them if left untreated.

According to the AmericanAcademy of Dermatology, “One in four Americans sought treatment for at least one skin disease in 2013; the average person was treated for 1.6 skin diseases.” Also, nearly half of Americans over 65 years have skin disease with an average of 2.2 each, as a result, treatment of skin disease accounted for $75 billion in medical, preventive, prescription & non-prescription drug costs. 

To qualify as a cosmetic dermatologist, you need to have foundational knowledge in sciences especially biology, physics & chemistry while in high school. These foundation years prepare you for medical school. Once done with high school, you then need to:

  • Complete 4 years of college to earn a bachelor’s degree
  • Complete 4 years in Medical School to obtain a doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO)   
  • Complete a year of clinical training       
  • Complete 3-4 years of residency in dermatology 
  • Complete an additional year of specialist training to become a certified & license cosmetic dermatologist

Being a “Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology” is a stamp of approval and can amount to a career boost since it implies that you:

  • Are licensed to practice
  • Passed the American Board of Dermatology or Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada exams
  • Are a member of the American Academy of Dermatology

6 Diagnostic Techniques

In performing their role of fighting skin disease in the clinic, hospital, or private residence, a dermatologist may employ either or all of the following diagnostic techniques:

  • Biopsy 
  • Photobiology (solar simulator)
  • Allergy test 
  • Sampling for direct examination
  • Epiluminescence microscopy (dermoscopy)
  • Cutaneous ultrasound
  • Selective sentinel node biopsy

10 Therapeutic Techniques

In carrying out a cosmetic procedure or treating a skin disorder a dermatologist may employ either or a combination of the following therapeutic procedures:

  • Cryotherapy – This involves using cryogenic agents to treat skin diseases using frostbite. It is suitable for treating warts or molluscum and tumor (benign & malignant).
  • Phototherapy – This involves skin exposure to non-ionizing radiation to tackle diseases like psoriasis, among many others.
  • Laser therapy – Laser technique exploits unique light characteristics like monochromatic, unidirectional, coherence, and others to eliminate varieties of skin disorders like cancer, scars, wrinkles, and skin lesions. The procedure can also be used for permanent hair removal as well as tattoos and tissue removal.
  • Infiltration – This involves substance injection like collagen useful for treating wrinkles, it is also applied in lip augmentation aimed at achieving fuller lips.
  • Chemical peeling – Peeling is useful for treating superficial legion. It uses a chemical solution to enhance skin renewal.
  • Dermabrasion and Microdermabrasion – Useful for treating scars, spots, and sun damage, this technique uses abrasion to cause skin friction, exposing a new skin that replaces the old one. Microdermabrasion uses micro-particles as an abrasive instrument. 
  • Photodynamic therapy – This technique uses a Porphyrinic derivative, usually Methylaminolevulinic acid, and a specific type of light to kill cancer cells.
  • Photopheresis – This procedure is useful for treating scleroderma among others
  • Dermatological surgery – This encompasses all the surgical, reconstructive, and cosmetic methods necessary for correctly diagnosing and treating the medically necessary and cosmetic conditions of the skin, nails, hair, and mucous membrane.

10 Most Common Diseases Treated by a Cosmetic Dermatologist 

cosmetic dermatologist - vitiligo


Vitiligo is a non-contagious skin disorder that causes loss of skin color in blotches. It occurs when the pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) die or stops producing melanin (a hormone responsible for hair & skin color). This may be due to hereditary or a combination of other factors. According to a 2001 report, the condition affects up to 2 percent of the United State population irrespective of skin types, although it is more noticeable in dark-skinned people.


It is a skin condition where patches of skin become red, inflamed, itchy, cracked, and rough. A blister may also occur. Eczema affects an estimated 31.6 million people in the US. The word “eczema” is mostly used for the most common type atopic dermatitis, which is known to affect children below 5 years of age. 

Cosmetic Dermatologist - acne


Acne is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition that occurs when hair follicles become plugged with oil and dead skin cells. Causing spots and pimples especially on the face, shoulders, back, neck, chest & upper arms. 

It is a common skin condition affecting an estimated 50 million Americans yearly. It is neither contagious nor dangerous and affects people of all ages. Although, it predominates during puberty when the sebaceous glands are activated. An estimated 85 percent of Americans experienced acne between the ages of 12 & 24 years old.

Cosmetic Dermatologist - psoriasis


Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that causes rapid cell development on the skin. Overgrowth can lead to thick, scaly plaques which are itchy and discomforting. There are different types of psoriasis, but 80-90% of people suffer from “plaque” psoriasis. Psoriasis affects over 8 million people in the United States.

Cosmetic Dermatologist - Rosacea


Rosacea is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition that causes redness in the face, pus-filled bumps, and may lead to visible blood vessels and swollen eyelids. It is always mistaken for eczema, acne, or skin allergy & is often misdiagnosed. It is most common among fair-skinned people and affects 16 million people in the United States. 


Alopecia is an autoimmune disorder that attacks the hair follicles, causing hair loss. Although it doesn’t cause physical pain, people with Alopecia are prone to anxiety and depression as it affects emotional wellbeing and self-esteem. 

Cosmetic Dermatologist - skin cancer

Skin cancer

Skin cancer occurs in the form of changes to your skin caused by abnormal cell growth. It is by far the most common malignancy diagnosed in the United States with 5.4 million cancers diagnosed. Melanoma is the most invasive and dangerous of all skin cancers. In 2019, over 96,480 new cases were reported, and melanoma was responsible for 7,230 deaths.

Skin cancer including basal cell carcinoma, melanoma, and squamous cell carcinoma often develops on skin exposed to the sun, although it may also occur in other areas. A combination of fair skin and family history can also be a factor.

Cosmetic Dermatologist - warts


A wart is a small, hard, benign skin growth with a rough texture that may occur anywhere in the body. It is caused by a virus of the HPV family. The warts appearance will highly depend on the location and thickness of the skin. There are various kinds but the most common types are palmer (hand) and plantar (feet). It affects 1in 3 children, and only 3 to 5 percent of adults probably due to the improved immune system. 

Cosmetic Dermatologist - nail infection

Nail infection

Nail infections requiring a dermatologist’s attention may include:

  • Onycholysis
  • Pitting
  • Paronychia
  • Yellow nail syndrome
  • Beau lines
  • Onychogryphosis
  • Koilonychia

They may occur as a result of other skin infections or a combination of factors.

Cosmetic Dermatologist - shingles


Shingles or herpes zoster is a viral disease caused by the reactivation of the chickenpox virus (varicella-zoster). It is characterized by painful, blistering and contagious rashes.

Services Provided by Cosmetic Dermatologist

A cosmetic dermatologist can provide a wide range of skincare services that are geared towards maintaining optimum skin appearance and even-toned skin.

Depending on your skin condition and the result you want to obtain, various procedures are available. The doctor should guide you through the most convenient procedure based on your body’s needs. A cosmetic dermatologist renders the following services:

cosmetic dermatology services

Is Cosmetic Dermatology Covered by Insurance?

Most treatments provided by a cosmetic dermatologist are deemed “elective” and medically unnecessary by insurance providers and are not covered. It is always best to contact your insurance company to see if a procedure is covered. Most insurance providers will expect you to get a referral from your family physicians before seeing a dermatologist. This is a normal practice.

Also, some dermatologists are known to partner with third-party financial organizations to minimize out-of-pocket expenses for their clients. 

When should I see a Cosmetic Dermatologist?

When your skin conditions are not responding to therapy or you have symptoms that appear to be getting worse, then you need to see a dermatologist and get a diagnosis. Never let your skin conditions get to the point of emergency before seeing a specialist.

Cosmetic Dermatology

What Is Cosmetic Dermatology?

Dermatologists are experts that are trained in the diagnosis and treatment of skin conditions. They are considered medical doctors for the skin. Cosmetic dermatologists use specific cosmetic dermatology techniques to treat and enhance the skin. This can help reduce the signs of aging or reverse sun damage. 

How Do I Become a Cosmetic Dermatologist?

In order to become a cosmetic dermatologist, you will have to dedicate many years to schooling and training. The first step is to obtain a bachelor’s degree. Then, you will have to spend around four years at medical school. Another year is needed to dedicate to an internship. Then, a residency program will need to be completed. 

How Much Do Cosmetic Dermatologists Make?

Cosmetic dermatologists are a branch of dermatology that focuses on the enhancement of skin, management of issues, and treatment of skin conditions. The salary for a cosmetic dermatologist can vary widely, most often depending on location and expertise. The median salary for a cosmetic dermatologist is around $250,000 annually. 

What Is a Skin Dermatologist?

A skin dermatologist is called a skin doctor, and is a person who has received medical training in order to properly evaluate and treat various skin conditions. Patients are evaluated, then treatment options are provided based on their diagnosis and medical history. Dermatologists may be able to treat patients in the clinic. 

Do Dermatologists Check Your Privates?

Dermatologists are trained in treating skin conditions. However, dermatologists are typically not familiar with disorders and conditions affecting genitalia. Primary doctors, as well as gynecologists, are more trained in the genitalia and may refer patients to a different medical professional depending on the diagnosis. 

What Is the Difference Between a Dermatologist and a Cosmetic Dermatologist?

Cosmetic dermatology is a branch of dermatology. Cosmetic dermatologists are trained medical professionals. These professionals provide patients with various cosmetic procedures and treatments in order to enhance the skin. They also provide options that a standard dermatologist would offer. 

Is Being a Dermatologist Stressful?

Dermatologists go through various training and education in order to become skilled professionals in the field. Those looking to become dermatologists must be equipped to handle day-to-day office life and capable of managing stressful situations. Like any other occupation, stress can arise for dermatologists.

How Many Hours Do Dermatologists Work a Day?

A dermatologist’s work day can vary quite a bit. Some dermatologists take walk-ins. Others may require all patients to schedule an appointment. Some dermatologists are in control of their own hours, whereas others work for a company that controls their hours. However, dermatologists typically work nine-hour days, but this can vary substantially. 

Do You Need a PhD to Be a Dermatologist?

In order to become a dermatologist, most individuals enroll in four years of school to get their bachelor’s degree. Then, typically they will need to complete four years of medical school, in addition to completing their residency. Although a PhD is not required, it may prove to be beneficial. 

What Type of Dermatologist Makes the Most Money?

Dermatologists are considered medical specialists and help diagnose and treat skin diseases. Annually salaries can depend greatly on where a person is based geographically, as well as the need for dermatological care and the median income for that area. Surgeons and physicians receive the highest-paying annual income. 

What Is the Job Outlook for a Dermatologist?

The need for dermatologists has remained consistently high because dermatologists have medical expertise and there will always be a need for medical professionals. The job outlook for dermatologists is relatively positive. Demand for dermatologists can depend on median income for a region and geographical location. 

What Is the Best College for Dermatology?

Many colleges offer programs in dermatology. While some programs require you to be on campus for lessons, other colleges offer accessible, online programs. If you are having difficulty finding a program that you can afford, there are financial aid options available to potential students through most schools. 

How Much Does a Dermatologist Cost?

The cost of a visit to the dermatologist can vary greatly. Whether or not insurance will cover the cost of your visit depends on the nature of the visit and your insurance policy. Dermatologists are skilled professionals who can treat mild and severe skin conditions. Treatment cost can vary depending on your condition. 

How Can a Dermatologist Help My Skin?

A dermatologist is highly trained in the medical field and can evaluate and diagnose various skin conditions. If you are suffering from a skin condition, a dermatologist can identify what you are experiencing and provide a proper treatment plan. This can help you to avoid flare-ups or allow you to treat the condition entirely. 

What Is a Skin Doctor Called?

A skin doctor is often referred to as a dermatologist. A dermatologist has completed specialized education that allows them to treat skin diseases. Dermatologists provide their patients with individualized evaluations and create a dedicated treatment plan depending on their diagnosis. 

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