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How to Become a Cosmetic Dermatologist

How to Become a Cosmetic Dermatologist
Not only do cosmetic dermatologists help increase the self-esteem of their patients, they also make valuable contributions to the field of medicine. Let's have a look at what is needed to be done to become a cosmetic dermatologist.
Rohini Mohan
As per market trends, the average yearly salary of a cosmetic dermatologist ranges from $200,000 to $300,000, depending upon location, experience, and organization.
The American Academy of Dermatology defines a dermatologist as, "A board-certified dermatologist is a licensed medical doctor and the only residency-trained physician specialist fully educated in the science and art of cutaneous medicine and surgery who has received certification from the American Board of Dermatology, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, or the American Osteopathic Board of Dermatology."

Cosmetic dermatologists are board-certified medical practitioners who restrict their treatment to the skin, hair, and nails, and use medical techniques that help enhance the appearance of the patient. Treating dermatological diseases is not a part of their job profile. All dermatologists are given training in the fields of dermatopathology, and medical, surgical, and cosmetic dermatology.
Requirements to Become a Cosmetic Dermatologist
Cosmetic dermatologists are required to complete their Bachelor's Degree from college, wherein their main subjects must include organic chemistry, biology, chemistry, and physics. Some medical schools require mandatory courses in biochemistry and math, and a fixed SAT score, to be eligible for admission.

After graduating from college, aspiring dermatologists are required to pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), in order to study at a medical school for the next 4 years.

While at medical school, the aspiring dermatologists will need to pass the US Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) Step 1, USMLE Step 2 Clinical Knowledge, and USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills. USMLE is a three-stepped examination for gaining medical license to practice in the United States of America. This examination is sponsored by the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) and the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME).

Once they have become a doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) or doctor of medicine (MD), they will need to pass the final exam of USMLE Step 3.

Thereafter, they will need to enter into an accredited Residency Program in Dermatology. The residency in dermatology will require that the candidates complete their internship in internal medicine or surgery for a period of 1 year. Another 3 years is spent in gaining practical experience during the residency program.

After becoming a dermatologist, candidates may choose to start working. After competing their residency programs, doctors will need to pass the American Board of Dermatology Examination to become board-certified cosmetic dermatologists.

Cosmetic dermatologists are expected to meet their continuing medical education (CME) requirements throughout their medical practice. Their American Board of Dermatology certification needs to be renewed every 10 years by passing the board examination.

Doctors who have completed their fellowship, are required to pass the General Board Examination in order to gain their advanced and specialist certification in the field of cosmetic dermatology. Those with specialization may sit for the Subspecialty Board Examination conducted by the American Board of Dermatology.

Some may also opt for advanced medical education immediately after completing their residency, wherein they may be required to do undergo training through a one- or two-year-long fellowship. Cosmetic dermatologists can choose between a Fellowship in Procedural Dermatology or Aesthetic Dermatology.

Aesthetic dermatology requires that the doctors undergo advanced training in surgical methodology, whereas, procedural dermatology imparts training in both cosmetic as well as medical surgery. During this stage, dermatologists can acquire specialization in the following fields:
  1. Chemical peels to remove acne scars, pigmentation, tattoos, and other marks.
  2. Hair transplant and restoration.
  3. Laser surgery, face lifts, treating varicose veins, liposuction, skin grafts, feature augmentation surgeries, etc.
  4. Tumescent liposuction to remove localized fat from problematic areas while keeping the patient awake.
  5. Application of fillers and botulinum toxins.
  6. Reconstructive surgery for removing scars left after removal of skin cancer.
  7. Mohs surgery, which is a specialized surgery to remove and treat skin cancer.
Cosmetic dermatology is practiced by aestheticians as well as doctors who have not taken up training in cosmetic procedures. However, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, the reliability, quality, and safety standards maintained by such practitioners depends upon their education, expertise, and experience.

It is advisable for cosmetic dermatologists to remain updated about the recent advancements in their field, and learn new techniques to make their work better.