Summary: When you’ve got skin issues, you might be confused as to whether you need a dermatologist or medical spa. In some cases, you might even need both. So how do you know where to start? Much of that answer is going to depend on what you’re actually seeking to accomplish with your treatment. Are you going for an aesthetic result or trying to improve the health of your skin? Sometimes that can dictate where you seek treatment–but it’s not always that cut and dry.

Do You Need a Dermatologist or Medical Spa for Your Needs?

There are so many options these days, you’d be forgiven for wondering if you need a dermatologist or medical spa, especially since they seem to perform similar services. In fact, when you go to the website of most medical spas, there is often a “dermatology” section. Likewise, many dermatology offices will offer dermal fillers or Botox treatments.

So how do you know which one you should go to? There are some easy ways to tell, but there are also some areas in which it gets murky. And you should always talk to your primary doctor about your own unique situation. Hopefully your primary can steer you in the right direction based on what you actually desire.

Finding out whether you need a dermatologist or a medical spa can help you make decisions about treatment. And those decisions can help you achieve your desired final results in a fast and more efficient way.

Not Mutually Exclusive Terms

First and foremost, it’s worth noting that medical spa and dermatologist are not mutually exclusive terms. Many med spas or cosmetic surgery clinics will have a dermatologist on staff. And many dermatology clinics will have trained experts in cosmetic procedures on staff. To be sure, there are certification and training hoops that one has to jump through in order to be called a dermatologist or a cosmetic surgeon–but most patients aren’t going to care about those hoops.

Patients assume that if you’re a doctor, you’re qualified–at least to a certain extent. And for the most part, that’s a safe assumption to make.

Some Starting Definitions

Now that we’ve established that these terms are not mutually exclusive, let’s talk about why they might be easy to get mixed up in the first place. A medical spa is a clinic in which one can receive cosmetic treatments for the skin and for anti aging purposes. These are sometimes referred to as anti-aging or skin clinics. A dermatologist is a doctor who specializes in the skin. These doctors will often run their own clinics (and in these cases, they might be referred to as dermatology clinics).

Different Services?

You can see how it might be easy to confuse the services of a dermatology clinic and a medical spa. So, let’s take a quick look at what each might offer uniquely:

A dermatology clinic might offer services surrounding:

  • Skin health, such as treating specific skin ailments
  • Skin cancer, including the inspection or removal of moles
  • Repair and recovery for the skin, especially if there has been a skin trauma in the past

A medical spa on the other hand, might offer services that:

  • Emphasize rejuvenation of the skin
  • Place an emphasis on the aesthetics of the skin
  • Work to make the patient look more youthful

This is not to say that medical spas are somehow uninterested in the health of your skin–nothing could be further from the truth. But each clinic is going to be set up to handle different patient priorities.

Combined into One

Because of these differing priorities, medical spas and dermatology clinics are often housed together or form strong partnerships with one another. It’s not uncommon to see dermatologists and cosmetic surgeons referring patients between them. That way, patients have the convenience of getting whatever skin care they need at one location (or, at the most, two locations).

It’s also not uncommon for medical spas to offer treatments that can improve the overall health and condition of your skin. Likewise, it’s not uncommon for dermatologists to offer services that can improve the aesthetics of your skin.

This can make deciding between the two difficult for patients. You might get one procedure with your dermatologist and another at your medical spa. If you’re going to both a dermatologist and a medical spa, it’s very important that you communicate openly about any and all treatments you are currently undergoing (or have undergone in the recent past).

Starting the Consultation Process

And if you’re confused about where you should seek treatment, your best bet is to start with some conversations. Consult with your dermatologist and your cosmetic surgeon. Call your medical spa or skin clinic and see what they have to offer. These conversations might not seem like great fun at the time, but getting information from a variety of sources can help ensure that you end up in the right place.

Because there’s no universal answer. Do you need a dermatologist or medical spa? Depends what you’re asking for.

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