If you’re concerned about the health and appearance of your skin, you may want to see a dermatologist. But one thing to keep in mind is cosmetic and medical dermatologists do different things. So, which specialist should you see? These are the key differences between a medical and cosmetic dermatologist in San Diego, CA.


One of the key distinctions between a medical dermatologist and a cosmetic dermatologist is their different goals. A cosmetic dermatologist works to give you smooth, younger-looking, and attractive skin. Meanwhile, a medical dermatologist aims to cure your ailments and improve your skin’s health.

For this reason, you should think about your goals before you decide which type of physician to see. Don’t worry about any confusion or ending up at the wrong clinic. While all dermatologists study both the health and appearance of the skin, most physicians in this field will choose to sub-specialize in either medical or cosmetic dermatology.

Cosmetic Specialties

There are some services that only a cosmetic dermatologist may be willing to provide. These are services that are related almost entirely to how your skin looks rather than any specific health concerns. So, you should see a cosmetic dermatologist for aesthetic services that aren’t directly related to resolving skin maladies. These include youth-related topical products, injectables, laser skin treatments, and even vein removal.

Topical Products

If you’re concerned with keeping your skin looking young and healthy for as long as possible, you should visit a cosmetic dermatologist to discuss your skincare routine. The dermatologist can recommend daily face and body moisturizers, sunscreen, and other products to help prevent early signs of aging like crow’s feet and forehead wrinkles. Prescription products may be more effective than over-the-counter ones.


This is a service that many medical dermatologists probably won’t provide. Injectables such as Botox and Juvéderm can smooth the appearance of the skin, provide fullness, and turn back the clock on aging skin. Note that while there are medspas that provide these injectables, these products are strong and can have serious side-effects. It’s best for your health and safety to see a cosmetic dermatologist instead. You’ll also get more natural-looking results.

Laser Treatments

For the most part, cosmetic dermatologists are the ones who perform laser treatments. There are many types of laser treatments, each of which relies on focused, powerful light to address certain cosmetic skin concerns. For example, non-surgical laser treatments can remove sunspots, break down unsightly spider veins, reduce acne scarring, and even diminish the appearance of unwanted body hair. Laser treatments help to break down the skin in a healthy way, encouraging the regrowth of smooth, attractive, and clear skin.

Medical Specialties

There are a few concerns for which you should only seek out a medical dermatologist. These include suspected skin cancer, a family history of skin cancer, swollen skin, and painful bumps or rashes. Many skin cosmetic dermatology experts may see you for these issues, but others may simply refer you to a medical specialist.

However, cosmetic dermatologists offer a wider range of needs, especially if your primary interest is in the appearance of your skin. For more information, visit Academic & Aesthetic Dermatology Consultants. We offer a wide range of treatments, including dermatology cosmetic surgery in San Diego, CA. We even offer same-day appointments for your more urgent concerns.