Charleston Dermatology Blog

What’s the difference between medical dermatology and cosmetic dermatology?

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Did you know that there’s more than one type of dermatology? If you’re not living in the realm of skincare like our board-certified dermatologists, we completely understand if this is a new revelation! Achieving healthy skin requires comprehensive care, and our doctors are ready to help you formulate the most effective plan for your skin’s unique needs. So, should you be seeking medical skin procedures or is your skin in need of cosmetic services? Let’s discuss!

What is medical dermatology?

As you can likely guess from the name, medical dermatology focuses on skin health. This dermatology is concerned with diagnosing and treating skin conditions that affect your overall health, like skin cancer and eczema. Medical dermatologists are trained to identify and treat these conditions and may do so through prescribed medications, suggesting lifestyle changes or performing medical procedures such as biopsies.

Common skin conditions treated with medical dermatology can include:

  1. Acne affects millions of people worldwide. It occurs when hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells, leading to inflammation and the formation of pimples. Visit our website to learn more about how our Healthy Selfie Telederm Program brings acne care to patients across South Carolina.
  1. Eczema is a chronic skin condition that can cause dry, itchy, inflamed skin. It is typically caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors and affects more than 31 million Americans.
  1. Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes red, scaly patches on the skin. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, this skin condition affects more than 8 million Americans and around 2-3% of the global population.
  1. Rosacea causes redness, visible blood vessels and small, red bumps on the face and can be aggravated by triggers such as sun exposure, stress and certain foods. More than 14 million Americans currently live with this skin disorder.
  1. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, with over 9,500 U.S. patients diagnosed each day. Medical dermatologists play a crucial role in diagnosing and treating skin cancer, including Mohs surgery – the least invasive, most successful form of skin cancer removal.

What is Cosmetic Dermatology?

Cosmetic dermatology focuses on improving the skin’s outward, aesthetic appearance. While these treatments can also provide health benefits (for example, Botox can be used to treat migraines or excessive sweating), they are primarily used to “beautify” the skin.

Common cosmetic dermatological treatments include:

  1. Botox injections can be used to treat fine lines, wrinkles and more! These injections work by relaxing the muscles that cause signs of aging, resulting in a smoother, more youthful appearance. 
  1. Dermal fillers are injectable substances that can add volume to the skin, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Fillers like Juvéderm® are often used to fill in hollow areas of the face, such as under the eyes or around the mouth.
  1. Chemical peels can be used to treat a variety of skin conditions, including fine lines, sun damage and acne. In this treatment, a chemical solution is applied to the skin, which causes it to exfoliate and peel off, revealing fresh, healthy skin. 
  1. Laser skin resurfacing is a non-invasive treatment that uses lasers to treat a variety of skin conditions, including wrinkles, fine lines and age spots.
  1. CoolSculpting® is the only FDA-cleared procedure using controlled cooling to safely and effectively target and eliminate exercise- and diet-resistant fat.

While medical and cosmetic dermatology may focus on different aspects of skin health, they are closely linked. For example, dermal fillers can restore volume to the face where it may have been depleted in a skin cancer treatment. As with all skin care treatments, your board-certified dermatologist can expertly guide you toward skin treatments best suited for your specific needs.

Charleston Dermatology helps your skin succeed!

At Charleston Dermatology, our team of board-certified dermatologists is here to help you conquer your skincare challenges. Visit our website to schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified dermatologists. 

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