If you’d like to minimize wrinkles, resurface sun-damaged skin, remove unwanted fat, address leg veins, or smooth acne scars, you should see a cosmetic dermatologic surgeon. These highly trained experts can address many skin issues, including:

  • Blotchiness.
  • Fine lines.
  • Neck skin laxity.
  • Stubborn areas of fat accumulation.
  • Unwanted facial and body hair.

Here’s what you need to know about cosmetic dermatology.

What Is a Cosmetic Dermatologic Surgeon?

A cosmetic dermatologic surgeon is a doctor who has completed a fellowship specializing in cosmetic dermatologic surgery to improve the skin’s appearance. Cosmetic dermatology procedures include:

  • BOTOX®️/Dysport®️ (neuromodulators).
  • Chemical peels.
  • Dermal fillers.
  • Eye lifts.
  • Laser therapy.
  • Mini-facelifts.
  • Tumescent liposuction.

A traditional dermatologist, on the other hand, is a doctor who is an expert on conditions of the skin, hair, and nails. Their main concern is the health of your skin. Dermatologists treat everything from acne to psoriasis to skin cancer.

Other kinds of dermatology experts include:

  • Dermapathologists, who study and identify the causes of skin conditions using samples of hair or skin.
  • Mohs surgeons, who perform a special type of surgery for removing skin cancer.
  • Pediatric dermatologists, who focus on treating skin conditions in children, including newborns and infants.

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Why Choose a Cosmetic Dermatologic Surgeon?

Cosmetic dermatologic surgeons help you to look your best, yet natural, at any age.  It all starts with healthy-looking skin, which can boost your self-confidence and make you feel better.

If you want to improve your appearance but don’t have a medical skin problem, you should see a cosmetic dermatologic surgeon. They have the training and expertise to safely handle procedures like:

  • Earlobe repairs.
  • Fat grafting to the face.
  • Injectables (fillers and neuromodulators).
  • Treatment of scars, earlobe repairs
  • Tumescent liposuction.

Cosmetic dermatologists may work at:

  • Dermatology clinics.
  • Medical spas.
  • Traditional doctor’s offices.

You should never get cosmetic dermatology treatments from a:

  • Cruise ship or during travel abroad.
  • Nonmedical spa.
  • Party.
  • Salon.
  • Someone’s home.

You should only trust your cosmetic skin concerns to a cosmetic dermatologic surgeon. They’re the ultimate experts on improving your skin’s appearance. Cosmetic dermatologic surgeons have a deeper knowledge and understanding of the anatomy of the nerves, muscles, and blood vessels under the skin.

There’s another bonus to seeing a cosmetic dermatologic surgeon. If a blemish on your skin turns out to be more than a cosmetic flaw, they know how to treat it. What might look like an age spot or acne scar could be skin cancer in its early stages.

What Kind of Training Does a Cosmetic Dermatologic Surgeon  Have?

A cosmetic dermatologic surgeon is a board-certified doctor. After getting a bachelor’s degree, dermatologists graduate from medical school to become a doctor. They then complete a yearlong internship in medicine and three years of residency in dermatology.

After completing their residency, a cosmetic dermatologic surgeon completes an approved fellowship. Training focuses solely on cosmetic dermatologic surgery procedures.

This means they pass more exams and stay current on the latest techniques and procedures. A board-certified dermatologist participates in continuing certification activities and tests.

What Treatments Can a Cosmetic Dermatologic Surgeons Provide?

Cosmetic dermatologic surgeons can perform a wide variety of treatments. They range from noninvasive, minimally invasive procedures to surgical procedures. These can include injectable treatments, skin resurfacing treatments, laser skin treatments, and more.

Injectable treatments

Injectable treatments can help people with fine lines, wrinkles, and thinning faces due to aging. A cosmetic dermatologist uses injectable substances to relax frown lines and add plumpness to your face. These include:

  • BOTOX®️ and Dysport®️, which are brand names for a botulinum type A injection. Botox/Dysport is a popular option for temporarily reducing wrinkles and fine lines. Botox/Dysport temporarily relaxes overactive muscles in the treated area, often around the forehead, eyes, and eyebrows. It’s noninvasive, and treatments last for a few months.
  • Dermal fillers can restore volume and smooth out fine lines and wrinkles to help you look younger. For instance, fillers can address volume loss of the cheeks, nasolabial folds, and under-eye (tear-trough) areas.  Another common use of fillers is to enhance the shape and fullness of your lips.  The goal of these treatments is to restore the youthful fullness that we lose with time while maintaining a well-balanced, natural appearance.

Skin resurfacing treatments

These treatments are another effective way to make skin look younger and rejuvenated without surgery. Skin resurfacing procedures remove dead skin cells and boost collagen production to improve your skin’s appearance. They include:

  • Chemical peels (medium-depth and deep peels): Doctors apply a chemical solution to the skin to boost exfoliation, or the removal of dead skin cells. Chemical peels can help improve your skin’s appearance if you have acne scars, wrinkles, or an uneven skin tone. They come in different strengths depending on whether your skin imperfections are surface-level or deeper.
  • Exfoliation: Your doctor applies an abrasive substance to the skin. This helps scrape away dead skin cells, leading to refreshed and younger-looking skin.
  • Microdermabrasion: Doctors exfoliate the outer layer of skin with fine crystals or a diamond-shaped wand to gently remove dead skin cells. It’s good for all skin types and doesn’t require any downtime. Microdermabrasion can reduce signs of sun damage, acne scars, and wrinkles and helps your skin absorb skin care products.

Laser skin treatment

Laser treatments are noninvasive ways of getting rid of tattoos and unwanted hair and improving skin texture and tone. Treatments include:

  • Fractional laser treatment: This uses lasers on wrinkles, scars, and uneven pigmentation. The laser creates controlled injuries to the skin, boosting collagen production and the formation of new skin cells.
  • Laser hair removal: As an alternative to waxing or shaving, laser hair removal has grown in popularity in recent years. The laser targets hair follicles, eventually destroying them. It can target specific areas without hurting the surrounding skin.
  • Tattoo removal: Lasers break up the ink particles in your skin so your immune system can get rid of them. It may take several laser sessions to remove a tattoo.
  • Vascular lasers: These lasers can target port-wine stains, broken capillaries, and rosacea/facial redness.  They can also be used to treat surgical scars and post-acne red scars.
  • Other lasers: There are many other lasers, each of which can have a particular benefit to the skin.  There are lasers to treat sunspots, boost collagen production, and reduce the appearance of sun damage.  This is done by using lasers with different wavelengths of light to address these concerns.

Minimally invasive options and surgical options

A cosmetic dermatologic surgeon can come up with a treatment plan that maximizes nonsurgical options. If needed, they also can use more advanced surgical options to tackle certain conditions.  These include:

  • Fat transfer to the face to restore lost volume.
  • Mini-facelifts to lift sagging jowls and early neck laxity.
  • Tumescent liposuction to address excess and diet-resistant fat.
  • Upper eyelid blepharoplasty to removed hooded skin on the eyelids.

Does Insurance Cover Cosmetic Dermatology Treatments?

You should always check with your insurance company to see what procedures and treatments they cover. However, most insurance policies don’t cover cosmetic dermatology treatments. That’s because they are rarely medically necessary.

American Academy of Dermatology Association, What Is a Dermatologist? Link

American Academy of Dermatology Association, Cosmetic Treatments, Link

American Cosmetic Association, Review of Cosmetic Dermatology Procedures, Link

Academic Alliance in Dermatology, Exploring the 4 Different Branches of Dermatology, Link

American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, Non-Surgical Fat Reduction, Link

American Academy of Dermatology Association, Who Should Provide Your Cosmetic Treatment? Link

About Dermatology

The UPMC Department of Dermatology diagnoses, treats, and manages numerous hair, skin, and nail conditions and diseases. We care for common and uncommon conditions, and our treatments include both surgical and nonsurgical options. We operate several specialty centers for various conditions. The UPMC Cosmetic Surgery and Skin Health Center is a comprehensive dermatologic laser facility, offering a full range of cosmetic services and procedures. With UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, we offer a Skin Cancer Program that provides complete care from screenings, diagnosis, treatment, and beyond. Find a dermatology provider near you.