The human body has several built-in defence mechanisms that protect us from diseases. Internally, the immune system takes the lead protecting us from infection. But the skin, the body’s largest organ, plays an enormous role in preventing those invaders from gaining entry to the body in the first place. As such, it deserves ample care, and any changes to moles, spots or lesions should be brought to the attention of a medical professional. Seeing a dermatologist is key to keeping your skin cancer-free.
- Know your type.
A good starting point for finding the best dermatologist for you is knowing if your needs are medical, cosmetic, or surgical. 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. Any anti-aging treatments requiring injections or laser are treated by a cosmetic dermatologist. Surgical dermatologists repair and/or improve both the function and cosmetic appearance of skin.
- Do your research.
Start with a referral list of dermatologists from your primary care doctor. Also ask family, friends, and other healthcare providers for recommendations. Take the time to research the doctors’ qualifications and experience; not every dermatologist is board certified. You may also feel more comfortable with a particular gender. With a list of a few names, call each dermatologist’s office to see if he or she is accepting new patients. Ask the receptionist for a consult appointment to meet and interview the dermatologist.
- Consider their experience.
Experience matters when you’re facing issues with the appearance or health of your skin, hair or nails. The more experience a dermatologist has with a condition or procedure, the better your results are likely to be. Ask how many patients with your specific condition the dermatologist has treated. If you know you need a specific procedure, ask how many of the procedures the doctor has performed and find out about complication rates.
Check in with yourself post appointment. Ask yourself:
- Did you feel heard?
- Were you able and encouraged to share all the information you think is important?
- Did the dermatologist examine you thoroughly?
- Were you able to ask — and did you understand the answers to — all your questions?
- Did the dermatologist give you multiple treatment options, explaining the risks and success rate of each?
Your dermatologist should take the time to explain things, address your concerns, and explain treatment plans, as well as any tests you may have to undergo. Exceptional dermatologists aren’t watching the clock. If a dermatologist dismisses your thoughts, is difficult to follow up with, or rushes you through an appointment, it’s time to find someone who values you more as a patient. It may take you some time to find the best dermatologist for you, but it will most certainly be worth it.
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