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Is Your Derm A Derm?
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Is Your Derm Really A Derm?


January 17, 2018

Okay, so your first thought is probably: obviously. But what if we told you that not all doctors who practice “cosmetic treatments” or even dermatology are actually trained to do so? Yes, it could be your “dermatologist” too. Here at Charlotte’s Book, we’ve had many doctors apply to our directory—doctors who are often quoted and interviewed as skin experts on prominent media channels—who are not in fact board-certified. So, we’ve had to reject their applications because they don’t meet our code. You would be shocked at how often this happens. We were.

Unfortunately, there are many doctors out there who are performing dermatological procedures or providing “expert” advice, without the proper credentials or education. What they’re doing is not technically illegal: a family physician can legally add “cosmetics” to his or her practice, or even transition their practice to cosmetic treatment, which is more lucrative. But they don’t have to take their dermatology board exams or have extensive training in the field. These doctors aren’t breaking the law, but they can’t offer the same level of expertise that a board-certified dermatologist can.

So how can you be sure that you’re receiving treatment from the best possible medical professional?

First of all, you should be familiar with the medical boards that certify professionals.

Just because someone has an M.D. after their name and a med school diploma hanging on the wall doesn’t necessarily make them the right person to go to when you’re seeking out a cosmetic treatment. It’s not enough for a doctor to be “board-certified”. It’s important to know which board the doctor in question is certified by. For example, the proper board for both general and cosmetic dermatologists is the American Board of Dermatology.

A dermatologist who’s certified by the ABD is not only trained in general medicine, but also has years of skin-specific training and hands-on experience with Botox, lasers, fillers, etc., and has passed dermatology board exams. Having this specialized certification means “years of study in the anatomy of the skin, lasers, and surgery-related cosmetic improvement,” explains Dr. Robert Anolik, a board-certified dermatologist and Assistant Professor of Dermatology at the NYU School of Medicine and Weill Cornell Medical College.

A general practitioner who’s attended a few dermatology training sessions and claims to be well-versed in dermatology cannot offer the same level of expertise and knowledge.

How do I check my doc’s certifications online?

You can go to the American Board of Medical Specialties’ website, where there is a directory of 24 medical boards. By searching the name of the doctor you’re considering, you can find out his or her certifications.

For a dermatologist you can search here to make sure your doctor is ABD-certified. “The ABD is viewed as the gold standard in certification, ensuring physician competency, patient confidence, and quality care,” says Dr. Anolik.

Another way to be well-informed is to know the right terminology.

A doctor can advertise that he or she specializes in “aesthetic treatments”, “cosmetic procedures”, or even “dermatology”, but that doesn’t mean they have the appropriate certification or training. And a doctor’s website or online reviews only hold so much weight; they can be inaccurate or even purposefully misleading.

Your best bet is to check their education and certification using the recognized medical board. Of course, we do this for every doctor and esthetician in our directory.

Have an open dialogue with the doctor you’re considering.

Not only should you do as much research as possible when you’re planning a procedure, but you should also feel comfortable being open with any doctors you’re considering. Don’t hesitate to ask about a doctor’s experience or credentials if they’re unclear. You can ask if they’re certified by the appropriate board; legally, a doctor is not able to claim certification by a board that they’re not, in fact, certified by.

You should be comfortable with the doctor you choose, and confident in his or her ability to treat you. And remember: the best, most qualified doctors want to provide the best possible treatment and experience for their patients. They are happy to explain procedures and tools, and will not pressure you to undergo any procedure. If you feel like a doctor is trying hard to “sell” you their services without listening to your concerns or questions, they’re probably not the right doctor for you.

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