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How To Find The Best Dermatologist For You: It's Not Just About Credentials (Although That Is Key!)
With so many kinds of specialized doctors out there, lots of people forego regular visits to a dermatologist, opting to go only if something is seriously wrong. But regular visits to a great dermatologist are crucial for skin health. The skin is your largest organ, after all, and it’s a reflection of the health of the rest of your body. If something’s off with your health, it shows in your skin. But how do you go about finding the best dermatologist for you? Credentials, education, and experience are of course incredibly important. You know this. (And we’ve taken a thorough look at how to make sure your derm has the right qualifications.) But there are other factors to consider when you’re in the market for a dermatologist.
It's a personality fit.
When people ask me for recommendations for a dermatologist, the first thing I ask is, "What are you looking for?" Are you looking for someone to help you with your regimen, do you want someone who's going to be ultra conservative, are you looking for new lips? There are so many great dermatologists out there, but cosmetic dermatologists are really personal. It sounds silly but it's true. I have sent people to some of my favorite dermatologists (ones that I trust my face implicitly with), and have heard, "Oh, Dr. X told me I didn't need anything. I was so disappointed." Or, "I was looking to go through my skin regimen and all they did was give me prescription topicals." One great thing about Charlotte's Book is that we give our experts the chance to share their beauty and patient points of view. Read up on a doctor's editorial. Research. Learn. See if their aesthetic vibe and general views on beauty fits with you.
Get referrals and read patient reviews.
This is a great starting point when you’re searching for any professional service. Talk to people in your network about their experiences with their dermatologists. You’re likely to get honest, thorough opinions. (If you're not sure who to ask, take a look at our directory, which has lots of community reviews.) Pro tip: ask people who have great skin! Your friend with the flawless skin probably has a great dermatologist, and he or she might be the right doc for you too.
Do plenty of research on what treatment you want.
Online research is a given, of course. Not only should you be looking at qualifications and reviews, but it's also important to make sure the derms you're considering specialize in whatever treatment you're looking for. If you want a product for your acne, or want to talk to an expert about wrinkles or a suspicious mole, you're most likely in need of a general dermatologist. If you want a laser treatment or injections, on the other hand, you'll want to make sure to go to a cosmetic dermatologist. And if you have a skincare concern that's not as common, research dermatologists who specialize in the appropriate field (an expert who specializes in immune-mediated diseases or skin cancers, for example).
Check those credentials! We can't say it enough.
Make sure to read our guide to finding out a derm's credentials first! Confirm that the doc you're considering has the necessary certifications, education, and training. This includes training in a specific subspecialty, if that's what your needs are. (You definitely don't want to get a laser treatment from a derm whose laser training took place over the course of one weekend.) If you're not 100% sure about the doctor's certifications, you can always call and find out, or meet with the doctor and ask them yourself. Here are the code and standards we abide by for all of the experts in our directory.
Go in for a consult.
It’s always a great idea to go in for a consult with a doctor you’re considering, especially if you’re preparing for a specific procedure or treatment. Consults do usually cost money, but are a great way to decide if a doctor is right for you. Plus, it gives you a chance to scope out the office and potentially get a feel for the doc from the patients in the waiting room. Also, keep in mind that if you’re able to get an appointment immediately, the doctor probably isn’t in demand, which is a red flag. A consult is also a great opportunity to ask a doctor about their experience and training. Don't feel intimidated about asking how many times the doctor has done your desired treatment, or how familiar they are with the related equipment or technology. (You can also ask if the doc owns or rents the necessary devices; if they own the devices, that's a sign that the treatment is done frequently in the office.) Plus, you can find out who will actually be administering the treatment. Will it be the doctor themselves, or someone on their staff? A good doctor won't shy away from answering these questions—they want you to be sure about your decision and make you as comfortable as possible.
Make sure you’re completely comfortable!
The importance of feeling comfortable with your doctor can’t be overstated. Certifications and experience are super important, but they're not enough on their own. You want to be able to talk openly with your dermatologist about your concerns and goals, whether you're looking for a cosmetic procedure or general skincare treatment. If a doctor looks amazing on paper but doesn't share your vision or understand your needs, they're not the one for you.
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