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Dermatologist and Cosmetic Dermatologist: Discover The Difference

When you seek out treatments for your skin, you’ll quickly discover there is more than one kind of dermatologist. Then there are all the spas that offer cosmetic treatments performed by “practitioners” and “estheticians” with no qualified dermatologists on site at all. At North Dallas Dermatology Associates in Dallas, TX, all our providers have medical degrees and are qualified in dermatology, cosmetic dermatology, or both. But what’s the difference in these terms?

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


A dermatologist is a doctor who focuses on the care of our largest organ: the skin. These specialists can diagnose and treat anything that afflicts the skin, nails, and hair. To become a dermatologist, a physician must first get an undergraduate degree, then a four-year medical degree, then complete a year of internship, and end with three years of advanced dermatological training. The final step is becoming board-certified by the American Academy of Dermatology.

Cosmetic Dermatologists

A true cosmetic dermatologist isn’t the same thing as an “esthetician,” an “injection expert,” or any similar term you might run across in the world of day spas offering cosmetic treatments.

This highly qualified expert is also not something less than a trained and qualified MD. Instead, this dermatologist has all the skills and training of a regular dermatologist, but with a special additional focus on cosmetic treatments that can complement and enhance healthy skin.

What Services Does a Dermatologist Offer?

Anything that affects the health of your skin is of interest to a dermatologist. Some of the common skin issues that our dermatologists treat include:


This annoying and sometimes disfiguring issue affects both men and women, and while it’s usually associated with the teenage years, the truth is that adults frequently battle with acne at points in their lives. There is no cure for this problem, but there are many treatments available, including topical and oral medications and light treatments.


Rosacea often manifests as small bumps that look a bit like acne. In other cases, it may look as if you’re blushing when you’re not. Certain triggers can cause redness and other symptoms around the face and sometimes the neck and chest, as well. No one knows exactly what causes rosacea, but left untreated it usually becomes worse.

Eczema and Psoriasis

These are two very common skin conditions that often have similar symptoms. You might notice red and scaly patches nearly anywhere on your body, and it can be hard to get an accurate diagnosis. This is just one reason to seek out qualified and experienced dermatologists who can accurately diagnose your condition and help you get exactly the treatment you need.

Skin Cancer

Cancer is always a frightening prospect, but when it comes to skin cancer, your dermatologist is your best friend. A dermatologist can identify which spots are something to worry about and which are merely a cosmetic concern. And when skin cancer is caught early, treatment is very effective. You should be seeing your dermatologist regularly so they can keep an eye on your skin.

Skin cancer takes several forms, and your dermatologist is skilled in telling one kind from another. Types of skin cancer include:

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

This is a less common skin cancer, and there’s both good and bad news when it comes to this type. The good news is that it’s very easy to treat when it’s caught early. The bad news is that it spreads easily when ignored: a good reason to have that unusual spot checked out!

Basal Cell Carcinoma

This is the most common type of skin cancer, fortunately, because it’s also the least deadly. Treatment for this type is simple, and most people who have it will not see a deadly spread, especially with timely treatment.

Malignant Melanoma

This is the rarest type of skin cancer and also the most dangerous. It spreads quickly and can easily become fatal if not treated. While people with fair skin are at the greatest risk for this and all types of skin cancer, it can strike anyone, so it’s important to keep an eye on your skin with the help of a highly skilled doctor.

Autoimmune Skin Conditions

Autoimmune disorders are on the rise, and while their effects on the digestive system and in producing chronic pain are fairly well known, not everyone realizes that they can also dramatically affect the skin.

An autoimmune disorder is characterized by confusion on the part of the body such that the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues. In some cases, these attacks are against the skin. There are several types of autoimmune skin conditions, and a skilled dermatologist will be able to diagnose which type you’re suffering from and get you the treatment you need to experience relief.

Surgical Dermatology

There are many reasons to remove blemishes, spots, freckles, moles, and other skin growths. In most cases, these aren’t life-threatening, but in some cases, they are quite serious. It’s important to have these skin blemishes inspected and removed by a doctor so you can be 100% certain of whether that mole is just a mole or a sign of something more serious.

What Is Cosmetic Dermatology About?

Cosmetic dermatology is all about complimenting the services of dermatology with skin treatments that take your skin from simply healthy to both healthy and radiant. And there are some very good reasons you should seek your cosmetic treatments from degreed dermatologists rather than from a spa.

Understanding the Body

Cosmetic procedures are changing something about your looks, but that can be done best when you actually understand the processes of the body. Plastic surgery, for example, is sometimes done just to yank the skin around and get a certain effect, but a skilled MD knows when the body’s own natural repair mechanisms can be put to work to achieve similar effects with far less trauma and difficulty.

Of course, in some cases, plastic surgery is the best option, but someone who fully understands how the body works and how the body’s natural processes interact with the skin is best positioned to advise you about when to seek surgery and when another treatment is more appropriate.

Overseeing Estheticians

Estheticians are trained and highly skilled at providing particular cosmetic treatments, such as dermal fillers or chemical peels. The problem arises when a practice has only estheticians and no cosmetic dermatologists to oversee treatment choices.

While estheticians can be trusted to perform your cosmetic treatment well, it’s important to have a qualified skin expert on hand to make sure something didn’t get missed and that your needs will be best served through that particular cosmetic treatment.

Connecting Health to Aesthetics

Dermatology is all about skin health, but the health of our skin is intimately connected with our overall health. Dermatologists know there is nothing more important to the appearance of skin than the health of skin, and seeking treatment from professionals who understand this means you’ll always get the best possible results from your esthetic treatments.

What Services Does a Cosmetic Dermatologist Offer?

You can expect a cosmetic professional to offer an array of treatments designed to complement your medical skincare and help you achieve the best possible look.


The most famous of these treatments is Botox, but there are other options as well, like Dysport. These are designed to address dynamic wrinkles, which are the wrinkles that appear due to the constant movement of our faces.

The problem with these neuromodulators is that, because they interrupt the signal between muscle and nerve to stop muscle movement, people sometimes have a “frozen” look after treatment. This isn’t because of the treatment itself but because of a lack of skill on the part of treatment providers.

It’s important to seek treatment only from a professional who knows exactly which muscles to target to get you a relaxed effect while allowing you to retain natural facial movements.

Dermal Fillers

Dermal fillers like Juvederm and Restylane use ingredients like hyaluronic acid to hydrate and plump the skin and erase static wrinkles. These are the wrinkles that appear regardless of what movements we make or don’t make.

These fillers offer changes that can last for months, and they are non-invasive and simple treatments. While they can’t undo the very worst effects of aging, which are best treated with surgery, they are a wonderful solution for mild to moderate concerns and can put off any need for cosmetic surgery for a long time.

Varicose Vein Treatments

If you’re suffering from unsightly veins, cosmetic dermatology has answers. These veins can cause cosmetic concerns because of their appearance, but they are sometimes also a symptom of larger problems with circulation. That’s just one reason it’s wise to seek treatment from a qualified doctor who can help you assess whether your vein issues are symptoms of a larger issue.

In sclerotherapy, an agent is injected into your varicose vein. This agent, known as a sclerosant, irritates the vein and causes it to close. Your body will naturally divert blood flow to healthy nearby veins, and the offending vein will simply fade away with time.

Larger veins can also be treated with intense pulsed light treatments, which heat up the vein and cause it to close off. These treatments only take a few minutes, have very little downtime, and effectively get rid of unwanted veins.


Some people are looking for more permanent dermal fillers that can address scars from acne or chickenpox, serious smile lines, or hollows around the temples. Because silicone isn’t broken down by the body like dermal fillers, this treatment lasts much longer.

However, this is also a good reason to seek treatment only from a professional doctor. It’s important to be sure both that you are a good candidate for treatment and that your treatment provides the results and look you need.

Body Contouring

Body contouring is a popular way to get rid of stubborn areas where fat isn’t responding to a healthy diet and exercise routine. But not every body contouring treatment is the same, and it’s important that you choose the right one for your needs. That’s where it’s important to have a qualified cosmetic specialist who can evaluate your skin.

At Dallas Dermatology Associates in Dallas, TX, we offer Coolsculpting, Ultherapy, and more, and we have the expertise you need to find the right body contouring treatment for you.

Work With the Best Dermatologists

Your skin is your body’s largest organ, and your overall health depends greatly on how you treat that organ. Whether you’re concerned about a spot that could be skin cancer or you want to erase the signs of aging, it’s always wise to get help from a qualified dermatologist. When you’re ready, contact North Dallas Dermatology Associates in Dallas, TX to learn more.

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