While there's a lot you can figure out on your own, nothing can replace a good dermatologist for expert care and information, for monitoring your skin over years, chronic skin problems, more severe skin or hair conditions, for more advanced procedures such as laser or IPL therapy or chemical peels and possibly even to catch new health concerns.
Even if you don't plan on seeing your dermatologist all that often, its good to have someone you already have a relationship with if you do need to see one for a sudden skin problem. And, dermatologists are always great sources of information and guidance. At the very least, you should see your dermatologist every 6 to 12 months for a mole mapping.
If you think dermatologists are "just" Botox® and beauty? Think again. There is so much more that a dermatologist can do—bad (deformations from bad injectables, severe burns from lasers or peels, misdiagnoses) and good (saving lives).
Perhaps it's because dermatologists are so good at making us look so good but we sometimes forget how serious, complex and vital dermatology can be.
Also, it may be that the skin is not thought of as a vital organ in the way that, say, the heart is. But from providing protection for our internal organs, being a barrier against infection, and regulating our temperature, to the anatomical and emotional significance of our sense of touch, and the skin's ability to expand and contract as we do throughout our lives, the importance of of the skin's role in our overall health cannot be treated lightly.
The skin is our largest organ and it is also arguably the most immediate, most visible monitoring system we have for the state of our internal systems. Way before internal organs manifest disorders in a blood test, ultrasound, x-ray, or MRI, dermatologists can recognize signs on the skin that may point to an internal problem. For instance, before blood sugar values are elevated, diabetes may show tiny distinctive scarred patches on the leg or small areas of numbness; a slow thyroid gland can be indicated by a form of skin thickening in various parts of the body; tiny red spots can signal inflammation of blood vessels both in the skin and in the body's internal organs. Quite often, the skin serves as a direct indicator about what is happening inside us.
In addition to all the good that a great dermatologist can do, there's a long list of "bad" that can result from poor care. Even "simple" procedures like injectables and lasers can go awry and when they do, the results can be difficult to correct and even dangerous.
There's simply no downside to great physicians. They'll do the "basic" stuff better and safer than anyone else. And they'll be able to more quickly and ably notice, diagnose and treat serious problems should they occur.
It's your skin. Don't bargain on its care.
To read amazing real-life case studies of how dermatologists have solved complex skin issues and even saved lives, check out our many articles on Ace Skinvestigators.
For tips on choosing a dermatologist, click here.