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Dermatology Print E-mail

Dr. Kennedy Dermatologists are physicians specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the skin. There are both medical and surgical sides to the specialty. Dermatologic surgeons practice skin cancer surgery using lasers, photodynamic therapy (PDT) and cosmetic procedures using botulinum toxin ('Botox'), soft tissue fillers, sclerotherapy and liposuction. Mohs' micrographic surgery is used to deal with basal cell cancers. Dermatopathologists use the microscope to diagnose skin disease, a discipline known as histopathology. Pediatric dermatologists diagnose and treat skin disease in children. Immunodermatologists specialize in the diagnosis and management of skin diseases produced by immune system problems. These include blistering (bullous) diseases like pemphigus. In addition, there is a wide range of congenital syndromes managed by dermatologists.

The skin is the largest organ of the body and surely the most visible. Although many skin diseases are primary, some are secondary manifestations of internal disease. Hence, a dermatologist is trained in aspects of surgery, rheumatology, immunology, neurology, infectious diseases and endocrinology. The study of genetics is increasingly important in dermatology. Venereology diagnoses and treats sexually transmitted diseases. Phlebology deals with problems of the superficial venous system. Both part of a dermatologist's training and expertise.

Dermatologic surgery is performed by all dermatologists. Surgery is an important part of dermatology residency training; thus all dermatologists are well trained in cutaneous surgery. In North America specialized training through a one year dermatologic surgery fellowship is available upon completion of the dermatology residency, and focuses on training in Mohs' micrographic surgery. Most dermatologic surgeons who have a special interest in this field apply for fellowship status with the American College of Mohs Micrographic Surgery and Cutaneouis Oncology; or the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery.

Cosmetic dermatology has long been an important part of the field. Evan at the beginning of the last century dermatologists employed dermabrasion to improve acne scarring and fat microtransfer was used to fill in cutaneous defects. Cosmetic dermatologists typically use non-invasive procedures to reverse the signs of aging. Botox has been used since it was FDA approved for the treatment of wrinkles particlularly frown lines and crow's feet. Fillers such as hyaluronic acid are used to fill in lines on the face and to minimize the appearance of wrinkles. Brand names of fillers include Perlane, Juvederm, Restylane, Radiesse and Cosmoplast among many others. Dermatologists are also the pioneers of energy based treatments for the skin including lasers, intense pulsed light, radiofrequency, infrared light and photodynamic treatments.

Techniques available to a dermatologic surgeon include lasers, electrosurgery, cryosurgery, photodynamic therapy, traditional scalpel surgery, 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.

The information in this article is not meant to be medical advice.�Treatment for a medical condition should come at the recommendation of your personal physician.

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