To become a cosmetic dermatologist, you will generally need to attend medical school, then completed residency and internship programs in dermatology and possibly surgery as well. The path is typically rigorous, often requiring at least a decade of post-secondary education.
How to Become a Cosmetic Dermatologist
Simply graduating isn’t usually the end either; in most places, you will have to pass a battery of certification exams and ultimately find a permanent location in a hospital or office. Some physicians also choose to open solo practices, but this often requires a lot of business acumen and managerial acumen.
In most cases, the easiest way to start is to work with other doctors, both for job security and learning. Success in the later years often depends on both experience and the ability to attract and retain customers. Cosmetic dermatology is almost always elective, which means that patients do not always have a medical need for the treatments provided.
Treatments are usually done to improve a person’s appearance rather than their health, and as a result, building a customer base is often a matter of marketing and outreach.
The field in general:
Cosmetic dermatology generally focuses on procedures and techniques performed to make the skin look younger or to remove blemishes that, while unsightly, are not necessarily medically problematic. Doctors often offer laser surgery to remove hair, birthmarks, scars, and tattoos.
Botox ™ injections and chemical peels are also popular ways to achieve a more youthful appearance. Cosmetic dermatologists often treat hair loss as well, using procedures such as hair restoration and hair transplants.
Basic Educational Requirements:
Like all physicians, cosmetic dermatologists generally must earn a bachelor’s degree and complete four years of medical school. Then after completing an internship, in most places, you will also need to follow a dermatology residency program that can take up to four more years to complete.
Different countries have slightly different processes, but the basic progression from general knowledge to specific knowledge is almost the same everywhere.
Education alone is usually not enough to allow you to become a cosmetic dermatologist. Most of the time you will also need some type of certification, and will generally have to demonstrate your specific knowledge through exams commonly known as “boards.”
As is true with almost all medical disciplines, professionals generally also have to recertify periodically. This often takes the form of continuing education courses and seminars to help you stay informed about changes and advancements in the field.
Join a practice and get started:
Of course, working with patients and performing procedures is also an essential trait of the cosmetic dermatologist, and generally cannot happen outside of a fixed practice. Many new doctors join the hospital staff, perform routine dermatological procedures, and only then choose to specialize in strictly cosmetic aspects.
Flexibility is often important, especially when you’re just starting out. You may find that you need to build a reputation for yourself as a general practitioner before you are successful in performing only cosmetic procedures. You may also find that you are more attractive to hire if you also have a range of experiences.
Many professionals also find it valuable to join groups or organizations dedicated to cosmetic dermatology. Examples in the US include the American Society for Cosmetic Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery, the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, and the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery.
These organizations and others like them often grant cosmetic dermatologists access to conferences, journals, and training that will keep you up-to-date on emerging technologies. Meetings and social functions can also give you the opportunity to network with other people, which can lead to new job opportunities and client referrals.
Helpful personality traits:
There are also some personality traits and abilities that could benefit someone who wants to become a cosmetic dermatologist. As with all doctors, good communication and interpersonal skills are important. The ability to be patient, discreet, and compassionate will likely serve you well as well.