Taking the time to research, meet and eventually settle on your ideal dermatologist is worth it. Not only will you be more confident in their treatment suggestions, but your increased level of comfort will make it that much easier for you to remain proactive with your scheduled appointments and check-ups. Most certified dermatologists are qualified to treat skin, hair, nail and mucous membrane issues.
But, just like most specialized medical professions, not all dermatologists are created equal. One may be better equipped to treat acne, while another still may only treat hair loss.
There’s a lot to unpack here, but hopefully by the end of this article you’ll be that much closer to understanding where to go, what to look for, and how to find a reputable dermatologist for you.
What Kind of Dermatologist You Need
Not all dermatologists are created equal. Sure, they all studied similar textbooks, but it’s not uncommon for a dermatologist to narrow their focus once they start practicing in the field. So, to begin your search, you’ll want to be perfectly clear on exactly what it is that you need.
If you’re hoping to treat cystic acne, than a medical dermatologist may be the right choice for you. Surgical dermatologists are the ones to call in the event that you need a removal of a benign growth, whereas cosmetic dermatologists focus their workday on laser hair removal, facial sculpting, Botox and more.
Are You Covered?
Once you zero in on the correct specialization, you’ll want to spend some time figuring out the financials. If you’re looking to get a dermatological service covered by your insurance provider, your search will most likely be narrowed to providers that land within your insurance network. For that, you’ll want to visit your insurance company’s website and start your search for in-network service providers.
Whether you’re covered or not is dependent on a laundry list of factors, though as a rule Botox, tattoo removal and chemical peels aren’t generally covered.
Do You Need a Referral?
Some providers, and even some dermatologists, won’t let your doctor search go very far without a written referral from your family physician. Do you need a referral before you can seek coverage or book an appointment? It’s an important element to know up front before you spend too much time searching for the best dermatologist online.
If you’re reading articles about dermatologists online, it’s probably because you need one. And, if that’s the case, it’s safe to say that your family doctor will provide you with a referral should you ask her. Most doctors will have no problem providing you with a note for your insurance provider, and they’ll probably even recommend a few in-network specialists that they know personally.
No professional field can escape the touch of online reviews. Though they typically represent the extreme end of a dermatologist’s client base, online reviews are yet another tool to aid your search.
Quickly browsing the dermatology section of your local area’s Yelp page should help orient your search for the best one around. You can browse user-submitted pictures, search by the proximity to your house, read first-hand accounts of the client experience and narrow your search based on your specific needs.
There is a world of questions that online searches can answer once you advance past the online review stage. You’ll probably have shed a few potential dermatologists from your starting list by now, which means it’s time to dig deeper.
Researching the background and certifications of potential practitioners can be illuminating. Odds are you’re deep dive will uncover information that compliments the doctor’s positive reviews, but there is a chance that you may stumble upon red flags like malpractice claims, disciplinary actions or negative reports from your state’s licensing board.
All the more reason to dig deeper and learn more before you schedule your preliminary appointment.
Book an Appointment
There’s no substitute for person-to-person interaction. So, if a name or two has survived your stringent background, credential and review research, it’s time to book an appointment. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s time to let your guard down.
The process by which you use to book an appointment with a new doctor can be telling. Do they seem in-tune with the latest online-booking trends? Are they flexible with scheduling changes, or will that onus fall on you? What’s their cancellation policy, and are they pleasant to deal with over the phone? Do they seem organized? All of these questions can only be answered when you take this important step.
Personality clashes can be detrimental to your overall treatment experience. It’s harder to get motivated to book an appointment with an MD that you do like, let alone one that you flat-out don’t like.
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of establishing a comfortable relationship with whomever you decide to visit. Maybe you like to ask a lot of questions or maybe you respond better to a short-and-sweet approach. Either way, it’s important to be mindful of your needs and realistic about your new doctor’s ability to satisfy them.
It’s important to be confident and feel secure in the treatment that you are receiving. That’s not to say that your confidence level with your dermatologist isn’t going to wax and wane as much as the moons. It is worth mentioning though, that you should never feel beholden to one particular practitioner.
Finding the right fit can take time, but with enough experimentation and patience, you will find that best dermatologist for you. Especially if you keep these tips and tricks at the top of your mind while you search.