Dermatologist or Esthetician. Who do I see?

I regularly meet with clients who tell me that they have seen a dermatologist, but are looking for other skin care solutions. I love educating people about their skin – we get an opportunity to have conversations that are often too detailed and lengthy to take place in a dermatologist's office.

I have come up with this guide to help you determine which type of skin care professional you should see. Dermatologists have the ability to prescribe medications and perform surgery, but you will find that many routine skin care issues can be treated by a trained esthetician.

Problem: Acne

Because acne is so multifaceted and there are different levels of acne, the range of treatment can be very extensive. A dermatologist can treat all levels of acne from mild acne consisting of blackheads and whiteheads to severe cystic acne. Treatment from a dermatologist can include both topical and oral antibiotics along with retinoids or hormone therapy. An esthetician can improve acne consisting of blackheads and whiteheads and in some cases, pustules (sign of infection). If you suffer from cystic acne, there is very little an esthetician can do for you and you should see a dermatologist. An esthetician's main objective is to reduce bacteria and minimize oil gland activity. The mainstay of treatment is deep cleansing using steam, the use of ozone as well as direct high frequency. There is also the physical process of removing the blackheads and whiteheads by extractions. When there are pustules present, the esthetician should not manipulate them but can use topical products to minimize bacteria.

Problem: Fine lines and wrinkles

Dermatologists can treat fine lines and wrinkles more aggressively than an esthetician. There are a number of procedures carried out by dermatologist in order to treat this issue. These include dermabrasion, medium to deep chemical peeling, laser resurfacing, filler injections, and Botox. Estheticians primarily address fine lines, and some have seen significant improvement in deep wrinkles with certain procedures. Procedures that estheticians will perform for this issue include microdermabrasion, superficial chemical peels, exfoliating and moisture-retention facials and LED light therapy. In some states, depending on regulations, radio frequency can also be performed.

Problem: Redness

Dermatologists can prescribe topical and In some cases oral medication that can permanently rid the skin of redness. There are also vascular and pulse dye laser that help to eliminate redness. Estheticians, on the other hand, can help improve redness with topical treatments but mostly by educating the client on products to use and products to avoid.

Problem: Dry skin and peeling

The extent of the dryness and peeling determines if you should see a dermatologist or esthetician. If the skin is extremely dry and peeling this could be a sign of a skin problem which can be diagnosed and treated by a dermatologist. If you are experiencing some dryness or flakiness, an esthetician can help determine whether or not your skin is dry or dehydrated. Following determination, treatment would include moisture retention or hydrating facials. The esthetician will also recommend an appropriate at-home skin care regimen.

Problem: Dark circles under the eyes

Dark circles under the eyes can be due to a number of things such as lack of sleep or exhaustion, allergies, excessive sun exposure, dilated capillaries or blood under the skin or just plain old genetics. Depending on the cause, a dermatologist may treat dark circles with vascular lasers, TCA Peels or topical solutions. An esthetician can treat dark circles with LED therapy, eye masks, and mild exfoliation. The esthetician can also recommend eye creams for at home use.

Estheticians are able to spend more time with clients and can give you that personal attention you desire, outside of a doctor's office. An added bonus is that most treatments performed by an esthetician are accompanied with upper body or hand massage, relaxing music, and aromatherapy. The psychological impact of a treatment can benefit you physically and mentally.

I recently had a client come in who was experiencing breakouts with several blackheads and whiteheads. After collecting a thorough history of her skin and products she used, we came to the conclusion that she had oily skin which does not allow her skin to shed like it should. The oil mixes with the dead surfaces cells forming a clog. To make matters worse, she was using Vaseline on her face everyday and had been doing this for years being that it was a family tradition. After explaining to her that Vaseline, although non-comedogenic, is a occlusive product that should not be used with her skin type, we decided on a treatment plan and an at- home regimen. Her treatment plan consisted of two salicylic peels with extractions three weeks apart with a deep pore cleansing facial. Her home regimen included a camphor cleanser, eucalyptus toner with glycolic acid, and a oil free moisturizer.

A week after the first treatment, my client was amazed at the results she was seeing! It has now been two months, and she has experienced significant results. She expressed to me how she now feels comfortable enough to not wear makeup. This is the reason I love what I do! Not only do I help people achieve their skin care goals, but my treatments also help to boost self confidence.

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