Dermatology is the branch of medicine that deals with the skin and its appendages (hair, nails, sweat glands etc). A medical doctor who specializes in dermatology is a dermatologist. Dermatology is a diverse specialty encompassing disorders and diseases of the skin, mucous membrane, hair and nails and a number of sexually transmitted diseases. Dermatologists deal with a wide variety of diseases including acne, warts, multiple inflammatory dermatoses, skin cancers, autoimmune diseases, occupational dermatoses and contact dermatitis.
There are both medical and surgical sides to the specialty. Dermatologic surgeons practice skin cancer surgery, laser surgery, photodynamic therapy (PDT) and cosmetic procedures using botulinum toxin ('Botox'), soft tissue fillers, scerotherapy and liposuction. Dermatopathologists interpret tissue under the microscope (histopathology). Pediatric dermatologists specialize in the diagnoses and treatment of skin disease in children. In addition, there is a wide range of congenital syndromes managed by dermatologists.
Surgery is an integral part of dermatology residency training; thus all dermatologists are well trained in cutaneous surgery. In North America specialized training through a 1 year dermatologic surgery fellowship is available upon completion of the dermatology residency, and usually focuses on training in Mohs micrographic surgery. Surgical intervention by a dermatologic surgeon may be necessary, for example, to treat varicose veins or skin cancer. Varicose veins can be treated with sclerotherapy (injecting an agent that obliterates the vein) or the long-pulsed Nd:YAG laser. Skin cancers can be managed with excision (including Mohs’ cancer surgery), cryosurgery, x-ray, or with the recent topical immune enhancing agent imiquimod.
Cosmetic dermatology has long been an important part of the field, and dermatologists have been the primary innovators in this area. In the 1900's, dermatologists used dermabrasion to improve acne scarring and fat microtransfer to fill in cutaneous defects. More recently, dermatologists have been the driving force behind the development and safe and effective employment of lasers, new dermal filling agents, nonabrative laser rejuvenation procedures, intense pulsed light systems, photodynamic therapy, and chemical peeling.
Techniques available to a dermatologic surgeon include lasers, traditional scalpel surgery, electrosurgery, cryosurgery, photodynamic therapy, liposuction, blepharoplasty (cosmetic eyelid surgery), minimally-invasive facelift surgery (e.g., the S-lift), and a variety of topical and injectable agents such as dermal fillers including fat transfer and hyaluronic acid. Some specially trained dermatologic surgeons perform Mohs’ surgery, which can be an effective method for the treatment of recurrent, indistinct, or difficult skin cancers.
Medical Opinions Associates offers the services of Board-certified Dermatologists for case review, opinion letters, and continuing litigation support, including trial testimony. One of our medical experts in Dermatology is Director of Pediatric Dermatology in a dermatology group practice in New York and is on the dermatology faculty at a New York School of Medicine. Another received his MD at Tufts University in Boston and is currently in the private practice of Dermatology and dermatologic surgery. Another received his MD from Harvard University and has served both as Chairman of the Department of Dermatology at Harvard Medical School and Chief of the Dermatology Service at a major Boston medical center.