The Regimen

Do You Need an Aesthetician or a Dermatologist?

Do You Need an Aesthetician or a Dermatologist?


First, let’s be sure we’re clear on the difference between the two. A dermatologist is a medical doctor; an aesthetician is a licensed skin care specialist with clinical training. Both can analyze your skin condition and provide advice and treatment. The difference lies in what sorts of treatments.


Certain skin issues require medical treatments—biopsies, surgical removals, dermabrasion—that are outside the realm of an aesthetician. Likewise, a dermatologist can prescribe medications like Accutane, Retin-A®, or antibiotics. An aesthetician cannot write prescriptions.


Aestheticians often work in dermatologist’s office providing therapeutic non-invasive procedures, with non-prescription products. Conversely, the term med-spa does not necessarily mean there is a doctor on staff.


An aesthetician’s purview includes facials, extractions, peels, light, and chryo therapies, waxing, microdermabrasion, and microneedling. Acne, mild breakouts, sensitivity, dry patches, dull skin, fine lines, and aging concerns are all things that your aesthetician can address.


Things like skin cancer and mole checks, hair loss, severe acne, eczema, psoriasis, rashes, hives, dermabrasion, and deep peels are the realm of a dermatologist.


But it’s not just a difference of medical vs. non-medical treatment that makes the determination. Your aesthetician has a clinical background and a great deal of knowledge about diseases of the skin. And your dermatologist is quite capable of performing a facial. Unless it’s a true medical condition, your choice depends on the severity of your issue and your preferences.


Some people prefer to see a doctor for all skin issues. Others enjoy the more relaxed environment that a visit to the aesthetician provides. While you generally see your aesthetician for facials and peels, you might choose to see a dermatologist if you have particularly sensitive skin or if you have a greater risk of hyperpigmentation. Or if you have severe acne that may require a prescription.


Regardless of which type of professional you see on a regular basis, you should schedule an annual visit with your dermatologist for a skin cancer check, specially if you have spent a lot of time in the sun.


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