Dermatology is an area of medicine that focuses on health issues affecting the skin, hair, nails, and mucous membranes.

The skin is the largest organ of the body. It is also the first line of defence against pathogens and injury, and it can be a good indicator of overall health.

A dermatologist’s work can typically be divided into three areas. These include:

•        Medical. A dermatologist can diagnose and treat conditions that affect your skin. This includes conditions like plaque psoriasis, rosacea, and acne. A dermatologist can also identify symptoms on your skin that could be signs of other health conditions. For example, itchy, dry skin can sometimes indicate problems with your kidneys.

•        Surgery. Many dermatologists do minor surgery, like removing moles or warts or doing skin biopsies. Other dermatologists will specialize in more extensive surgery. These procedures can include removing benign cysts or skin cancer.

•        Cosmetic. A dermatologist can treat skin issues that affect your appearance. This may include hair loss, dark spots, or wrinkles. Many dermatologists are trained to administer cosmetic treatments, too. These include fillers, chemical peels, and laser hair removal.



Dermatologists use a range of medical and cosmetic procedures to manage issues affecting the skin, nails, and hair.

Medications and non-invasive therapies can treat many skin conditions, while others require more invasive approaches. These procedures can take place in an outpatient setting, such as the doctor’s office, or in a hospital.

Chemical peels

This involves applying a chemical solution that causes a layer of skin to peel off, revealing regenerated skin beneath that is typically smoother.

Dermatologists use this procedure to treat sun-damaged skin and some types of acne. It can also address cosmetic complaints, such as age spots and lines under the eyes.

Cosmetic injections

Wrinkles, scarring, and reduced facial fullness can be temporarily addressed with injections. A dermatologist can inject Botox or fillers such as collagen and fat during an office visit.

Results tend to last for a few months, and maintaining the effects requires regular injections. However, some people develop antibodies to Botox that make the injections ineffective.


Cryotherapy can be a quick treatment for many benign skin issues, such as warts. The procedure involves freezing skin lesions — often with liquid nitrogen — to destroy the affected cells.


Dermabrasion can help reduce scar tissue, the appearance of fine wrinkles and tattoos, and potentially precancerous areas of skin. Using a high-speed rotating brush, a dermatologist removes the top layer of skin.

Excision of lesions

Dermatologists excise skin lesions for several reasons. They may cut away these lesions:

•        to prevent a disease from spreading

•        for cosmetic reasons

•        to prevent reoccurring infection

•        to alleviate symptoms

•        to diagnose an underlying issue

Depending on the size of the lesion, the person may receive a local or general anesthetic before the removal.

Hair removal or restoration

A dermatologist can use various methods to address hair loss, including transplantation.  Alternately, they can remove unwanted body hair using lasers.

Laser surgery

Dermatologists can also use laser surgery to treat a variety of skin issues or cosmetic complaints, including:

•        tumors

•        warts

•        moles

•        unwanted tattoos

•        birthmarks

•        scars

•        wrinkles

Vein procedures

Superficial leg veins are small, dilated surface veins. People sometimes call them spider veins and may request their removal.

Sclerotherapy tends to be the spider vein treatment of choice. It involves injecting either foam or a special solution into the vein, which irritates the lining, causing the vein to shut, then become less distinct or disappear.

Tumescent liposuction

Dermatologists use tumescent liposuction to remove fat. It involves injecting large volumes of local anesthetic into fatty tissue, then sucking it from the body. Tumescent liposuction is not a treatment for obesity — it is a cosmetic procedure for body contouring. Dermatologists can also use lasers to selectively burst fat cells.

Skin grafts and flaps

Dermatologists can restore missing skin using skin from elsewhere on the body. Or, they may repair skin loss by creating a flap of skin from a nearby area and using it to cover the damaged patch.


A dermatologist usually performs a skin biopsy to diagnose or rule out certain conditions. 

They typically use one of the following three approaches:

•        Shave biopsies remove small sections of the top layer of skin.

•        Punch biopsies remove small, circular sections of skin, including deeper layers.

•        Excision biopsies remove entire areas of skin that seem to be unhealthy.


PUVA stands for: psoralen combined with ultraviolet A radiation. Psoralen is a drug that makes the skin more sensitive to the radiation treatment. Dermatologists use PUVA to treat skin diseases, such as psoriasis, dermatitis, and vitiligo.

Mohs surgery

Mohs surgery is a treatment for skin cancer. First, the dermatologist removes layers of skin to get rid of cancerous cells, then examines them under a microscope.

They then remove successive layers until there are no more cancerous cells. Performing this surgery requires specialized training.