Cosmetic Dermatologist and Cosmetic Surgeon: Is There
By Paloma Hernandez
Cosmetic dermatology, cosmetic surgery and dermatology are three terms that are normally used
interchangeably. True, most practitioners fall within a branch of medical science called general
dermatology, but the difference lies in their specialization. General dermatology is four-year
specialization course that doctors of medicine may study to become a dermatologist. Dermatologist may
pursue further sub-specialization in cosmetic dermatology and/or cosmetic surgery to focus more on
maintenance, restoration and improvement of the appearance of the skin and the physical features of
the human body.
To become a dermatologist a medical degree (MD) or doctor of osteopathy (DO) is required. A one year
internship in general surgery or other broad-based clinical training and three years of dermatology
residency are part of the requirements to become one. After satisfying these requirements they have to
pass the written and practical skill test given by the American Board of Dermatologists for certification.
The test is re-taken every 10 years to maintain the certification's validity. Additional sub-specialization
though fellowship program are available to certified dermatologist.
Cosmetic surgery is a sub-specialization of cosmetic dermatology that dermatologist can pursue. In most
cases, cosmetic surgeons are dermatologists; however, cosmetic surgery is also a specialized program of
plastic surgery which can be taken by doctors who are through with their three-year general surgery
residency. This is the reason why cosmetic surgeons are not necessarily dermatologists.
Although most of the general surgeons specializing in plastic surgery normally focus on restorative
procedures (functional surgery), there are some that also practice cosmetic surgery (aesthetic surgery).
Cosmetic surgeons need to pass the National Board Exam for Plastic surgeons before they can apply for
certification from their specific State.
Cosmetic dermatology on the other hand is a sub- specialization open only to dermatologist. Cosmetic
dermatologists are also called dermasurgeons. They may undergo special training on laser resurfacing,
dermabrasion, microdermabrasion, dermal fillers, chemical peels, tissue augmentation, facial liposuction
The American Board of Dermatology prescribes the requirement on the time and courses that must be
satisfied for them to become a specialist on a certain field. Once they pass the requirements, they are
eligible to become member of the American Society of Cosmetic Dermatology and Aesthetic Surgery,
and be a full pledge dermasurgeon.
Dermatologist can go for different sub-specialization such as dermatopathology, imunodermatology,
phototherapy, etc. but the most popular is cosmetic dermatology. That is why, the titles cosmetic
surgeon, cosmetic dermatologist and dermatologist is sometimes difficult to differentiate. One sure way
of knowing which is which, is by checking on their certifications.
Cosmetic surgery procedures such as liposuction, blepharoplasty, breast implant and removal, and so on
may be done by cosmetic dermatologist and plastic surgeon for as long as they have the proper training
and certification from the state board. Some of the less invasive procedures on botox, filler and laser
surgery can be performed by general dermatologist. These procedures are included in their training.
Certifications for specific procedures are being issued by the American Board of Dermatology, and for as
long as they have these certifications then you can be sure that they are experts in that particular field.
Advanced Dermatology is a full-service dermatology practice specializing in the treatment of all skin,
hair, and nail disorders and this is what you could expect in medical dermatology san clement.
Learn more about dermatology