• Know the types. A general dermatologist will treat rashes, acne, and rosacea; they do skin exams to check for questionable moles; and they can help with issues such as thinning hair. They are a good starting place for anti-aging prescriptions such as Retin-A or hydroquinone for wrinkles and brown spots. Deeply etched wrinkles, scars, or persistent discoloration—anything that requires a peel, injection, or laser—are best treated by a cosmetic dermatologist.
• Check their bios. Doctors usually have one on their practice’s website. Look for board certification from the American Academy of Dermatology—you don’t want to get Botox from someone certified as an OB-GYN. A website is also a good place to see whether the doctor’s focus is general or cosmetic and if she specializes further. Someone who names laser treatments, or Botox and fillers, will be more experienced than a doctor who insists she does them all equally well.
• Go for a consult. Schedule your first appointment for a Monday or Tuesday. These are usually the busiest days. Take advantage of the full waiting room and ask your fellow patients about their experiences. It’s a good sign if you have to wait several weeks for a consultation; the doctor is in demand. Most doctors charge for a consultation, but often that fee is put toward the cost of a procedure.
• Listen up. When you meet a cosmetic dermatologist for the first time, I think it’s best to give a vague sense of why you’re there and then let her talk. Mention that you’re bothered by the lines on your face or noticeable leg veins, but don’t go into all the remedies you’ve researched online. Listen to how she’d address those issues. Her opinion will give you a sense of her aesthetic philosophy, including how aggressive she is.
• Ask the right questions. You want someone who does the procedures you’re seeking all the time. At least three to five cases a day is good; more is even better. For lasers, ask if the practice owns or rents the devices. If they rent, they aren’t lasering as much. Also be sure to ask who is doing the lasering. Some doctors will say they “supervise” the treatment a nurse or technician performs, but I don’t think that’s enough. The doctor should be hands-on.
For more information read wikipedia about Dermatology .