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What is Dermatology

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD):

Dermatology focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of conditions related to the skin, hair, and nails. It also focuses on maintaining the health of your skin.

Dermatologists are medical doctors who train in this area for many years, making them the experts in all things related to skin, hair, and nails.

Dermatology Danville CA

Dermatologist Sonia Badreshia-Bansal of Elite MD examining a patient.

What is a Dermatologist?

A dermatologist (dur-meh-tol-uh-jist) is a specialized doctor who treats the:

  • Skin
  • Nails
  • Hair
  • Mucous membranes (e.g., lining inside the mouth, nose, and eyelids.)

Dermatologists work to diagnose and treat more than 3,000 different diseases. These diseases include skin cancer, acne, rosacea, eczema, moles, psoriasis, and nail infections.

Dermatologists also improve the appearance of their patients’ skin, hair, and nails. For example, a dermatologist can help patients:

  • Diminish wrinkles, age spots, and other signs of aging.
  • Have less noticeable acne scars.
  • Look more like themselves after surgery to remove skin cancer.

Dermatologists see patients of all ages — from newborns to people older than 100 years of age.

How to become a dermatologist

To become a dermatologist, one must complete many years of school. Here are the steps one must complete before truly being an accredited dermatologist:

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college.
  2. Complete a medical school course in order to become a certified medical doctor (MD) or doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO).
  3. Complete an internship that is at least 1 year in length.
  4. Complete a Dermatology residency program that is at least 3 years in length.

Internship: After successfully graduating from an accredited medical school, one is a doctor and has the ability to legally practice medicine in America. However, a doctor must complete even more years of training. This first year of medical training is what is referred to as the doctor’s internship.

While the doctor is in the process of completing this internship, he or she is known as an intern. This internship must be completed at a hospital or clinic. Doctors who want to specialize in dermatology generally complete their internship in the fields of:

  • Pediatrics
  • General Surgery
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Family Medicine
  • or Internal Medicine

Dermatology residency program: After completing the year-long internship at a hospital or clinic, the future dermatologist can enter a dermatology residency program. This can be challenging though because admission into a residency program is touch due to the lack of available spots and high competition.

Once admitted to a dermatology residency program, the doctor is now referred to as a dermatology resident. He or she will now spend at least 3 years training specifically to become a dermatologist. Some of their tasks include:

  • Receiving hands-on surgical training to learn and apply the surgical procedures that dermatologists perform.
  • Seeing patients and addressing their many individual needs.
  • Learning to diagnose and treat dermatology issues. These issues include over 3,000 diseases that affect the skin, nails, and hair.

Dermatology residents have to learn surgical procedures as well. Some of these procedures include:

  • Injection of fillers such as botulinum toxin which give patients a more youthful appearance.
  • Biopsies of the skin or nails. This is when a dermatologist or dermatology resident remove a small amount of tissue or skin in order to properly diagnose a disease. These procedures are actually performed while the patient is still awake.
  • Skin cancer removal by excisions and other procedures.
  • Removing the different types of skin growths, an example would be warts. This can be done through a variety of procedures such as cryotherapy.

Becoming a Board-Certified Dermatologist

Once the doctor successfully completes his or her dermatology residency program, he or she can take the dermatology board examinations. This is the key step to becoming a board-certified dermatologist (which is what you want in a dermatologist).

The dermatology board examination tests the doctor’s skills, experience, and knowledge in the field of dermatology. The exams are given by three organizations in North America:

  • The American Board of Dermatology
  • The American Osteopathic Association
  • and The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada

In the past, a dermatologist who passed the dermatology board exams was board-certified for life. This is no longer the case. Board-certified doctors are now required to retake the dermatology board exams every 10 years due to advances in medicine. This rule ensures that dermatologists keep up-to-date with advances in the dermatology field and medicine in general.

Fellowship in dermatology

After completing their dermatology residency, some dermatologists continue their studies; even after their board-certification. This advanced study is called a fellowship. Dermatologist’s use this fellowship to focus extensively on a specific area of dermatology. Some of these areas include:

  • Mohs surgery
  • Pediatric dermatology
  • Cosmetic dermatology
  • Procedural dermatology
  • Dermatopathology
  • and general research

Once completing this fellowship, a dermatologist may choose to specialize in one or more areas in dermatology. Many work for existing organizations while others venture out on their own and start their own practice.

How to choose a dermatologist

Dermatologists can be simplified into two kinds of dermatologists: general and cosmetic. Choosing the right Dermatologist is crucial to addressing your concerns. Here’s how to find one.

Know the different types of dermatologists

A general dermatologist will treat acne, rosacea, rashes, etc. They do cancer screenings and they can help with general issues such as thinning hair. General dermatologists are great people to go to for prescriptions such as Retin-A for wrinkles and spots.

A Cosmetic dermatologist are the best for scars, discoloration, deep wrinkles, and anything else that may require an injection, laser, or a peel.

Check their background

Dermatologists (any doctor really) usually have their bio on their practice’s website. Look for board certification from the American Academy of Dermatology. You certainly don’t wait to get a Botox injection from someone who was certified as a OB-GYN. A dermatologist’s bio will also tell you whether they are a general or cosmetic dermatologist (or both). Someone who names the specific treatments that they specialize in such as fillers / Botox or laser treatments will be more experienced than a doctor who says they do them all equally well.

Here is an example of dermatologist’s bios: Dr. Sonia Badreshia-Bansal, MD.

Go for a consultation

A great practice for this is to schedule your first appointment early in the week. These are usually the busier days. I know that this sounds ridiculous with your busy schedule but this allows you to meet fellow patients and talk to them about their experiences. As good as online reviews can be, they are often misleading; the people with negative experiences voice their opinion the loudest. If you have to wait a week or two to schedule your first consultations, it’s a good sign. It means that the dermatologist is in demand. Most dermatologists charge for a consultation but many times the fee is put toward the cost of a procedure.

Listen to your dermatologist

When you first meet a dermatologist, it’s best to give a vague sense of why you’re there. For example: if you are there for deep wrinkles on your face, mention that and that alone. Don’t go into detail about the remedies you have researched online. This allows the dermatologist to talk and you can gauge whether you like him or her. Listen to how they address your issues. Their opinion will give you a sense of their aesthetic philosophy.

Ask the right questions

First and foremost, you want someone who does the procedure you’re seeking all the time. At least three cases a day is good, the more the better. For example: if you need a procedure that requires laser treatments, ask if they own or rent the laser. If they are renting their lasers, they don’t perform laser treatments much at all. Also, be sure to ask who is doing the laser treatment. Some dermatologists will say they “supervise” the laser treatment while a nurse performs the treatment. A dermatologist should be hands-on. If they aren’t doing it, you must make sure the person that is performing the treatment is just as qualified. For example: a board-certified plastic surgeon would be a more than suitable substitute.

Want to learn more? Contact us at (925)838-4363 or view our Dermatology Procedures.

Elite MD is proud to offer 2 locations for our patients. Be sure to check the location of your scheduled appointment.
Division of Cosmetic Dermatology & Laser Institute
360 Rose Ave. • Danville, CA 94526
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Division of Plastic Surgery
350 Rose Ave. • Danville, CA 94526
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