Getting the Most Out of a Cosmetic Dermatology Consultation

Insider tips for setting the foundation with your dermatologist so you're guaranteed to get a look you love.

Photograph via Shutterstock. Photograph by Shutterstock. Photograph by Shutterstock.

In September, we discussed how to get the most out of a medical dermatology appointment, but the cosmetic consultation is a little different. Since there will most likely be a discussion on treatments to enhance the look of your skin, it’s important to create the environment for success. Follow these insider tips to set the foundation for results and a look that you love.

Ask for recommendations. If you see trusted friends, colleagues, or family members that look particularly great, ask them if they are seeing a dermatologist. Although a beautiful website and prominent advertising are enticing, the best way to find a good derm is through word of mouth.

Do your homework, but be flexible. Many Washingtonian women are well-versed in cosmetic treatments through magazines, newspapers, and even from local TV news programs. It is great to have a fundamental understanding of what can be accomplished for a particular concern (for example: dermal fillers for volume loss or lasers for sun spots). But it’s best not to demand a particular brand of filler, neuromodulator, or laser treatment. There are many different products and devices from which to choose, each having both advantages and disadvantages, therefore there is no single way to best treat everyone. Once you establish a relationship with a dermatologist, trust him/her to choose the treatment that is right for you.

Communication is key. Open and honest communication is essential to ensure the result you want to achieve. Some women prefer a very conservative approach to cosmetic treatments, with subtle results that build over time. However, other women would be disappointed with this slow approach and want to see dramatic results right away. In both cases, communication between patient and physician is critical to reduce dissatisfaction with treatment.

Develop a relationship. Just like a good marriage or friendship, a relationship is based on communication, and trust between patient and dermatologist and is the foundation for success. Many conditions for which women seek cosmetic treatments (such as aging skin or rosacea) are long-term issues. Therefore, the relationship created between you and the dermatologist is one that will last for years. As your skin ages and changes, it will have different needs. A derm that knows your skin will be able to adapt and change plans accordingly. Also, a good derm will discuss when it is not possible to achieve the results you are looking for with non-surgical treatments. Realistic expectations are important; listen closely when he/she says you might be disappointed with treatments.

Something not working for you? Speak up! Cosmetic treatments are medical procedures that have side effects and can be modified as needed for the individual. Had a lot of bruising with the last injection treatment? Tell your derm, as there are many steps to take to reduce bruising with subsequent treatments. Had a breakout or extended redness with the last laser treatment? Don’t be shy. Explain what happened because there may be changes to the procedure that would help improve the recovery. Remember: communication with your dermatologist is the key to a successful outcome.

Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi is a board-certified dermatologist.


Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi is a board-certified dermatologist and co-director of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Surgery.