“What type of doctor are you?” “Are you a dermatologist or a plastic surgeon?” These are two great questions that people and patients ask me all the time. No, I'm not a dermatologist or a plastic surgeon. I am a Board Certified Cosmetic Laser Surgeon. Sometimes even my long-term patients will say, “I am sorry to ask but when I tell my friends about you, what exactly do I call you?” Even doctors that I have known for years who trustingly refer me patients sometimes ask again exactly what I am.
I decided to write this blog because I realized that my specialty is very confusing to many people and even to the medical community in general.
Cosmetic Laser Surgery is a relatively new type of specialty. It combines traditional and new philosophies stemming from medical and cosmetic dermatology, general surgery, plastic surgery, and even considers allergy and hormone medicine. It also has some aspects of general medicine and alternative medicine concerning the body’s health and ability to heal itself when stimulated to do so and in taking care of oneself.
Although I originally trained in general surgery after medical school (actually planning on becoming a plastic surgeon), I fell in love with laser procedures late in training and realized that a completely separate specialty was on the rise. To be good at what I do and how I treat patients and their skin concerns, I sought further training in different states with dermatologists and plastic surgeons after surgery residency so I could learn all I needed to know about the parts of medicine, dermatology, and plastic surgery that pertained to the patient concerns and conditions I wanted to treat. I then achieved my specialty board certification from the American Board of Laser Surgery. Due to my passion and devotion to the specialty, I was asked to be the Executive Director of the ABLS. My position allows me to train and board examine other physicians and practitioners so that they may become expertly specialized in the field.
The medical community and the general public is finally beginning to recognize the need for a completely separate specialty to treat the conditions I treat. You need to know some aspects of dermatology, plastic surgery, medicine and other areas to really be specialized enough to thoroughly treat these conditions (aging, sun damage, lines, wrinkles, skin laxity, acne, acne scars, melasma, skin discoloration, hyperpigmentation, rosacea and others).
In my opinion, and many physicians in my specialty agree, no core medicine, dermatology, or plastic surgery residency/fellowship teaches all that is needed to know to know what I know and to be able to completely treat all aspects of these mentioned conditions. This is why I have been working with the federal and state medical boards to help them develop stronger laws (see "Beware of the MedSpa" blog
), strengthen education requirements, and even to develop a separate residency/fellowship to properly train physicians in my specialty.
As you may know, many current specialties in medicine and surgery today have stemmed from another more general field of medicine. For example, most of the surgical specialties (i.e. orthopedics, neurosurgery, ENT, plastics) developed from general surgery. Years ago, you didn’t have all these specialists, you just had “surgeons” who did everything. My specialty has developed in somewhat the same way, when one specialty doesn’t cover everything necessary in detail to properly treat a condition, a newer more specialized field originates and develops new philosophies from different already established specialties.
As a physician reading this, you can see the need for aspects and philosophies of many different existing specialties to make you an expert in my field.
As a patient, you hear all the time, “go see a specialist.” Well, that’s exactly what I am. I am a cosmetic laser specialist who specifically and thoroughly treats certain conditions. I don’t spread myself too thin by treating to many different conditions. For example, I have a great dermatology group to refer to for skin cancer screening and treatment. I have a great allergy specialist and hormone specialist when needed. If you have a medical condition that may be affecting your skin, I know a few great internal medicine doctors and endocrinologists. If you need more than I can offer with non-invasive procedures (lasers) then I have a few great and trusted plastic surgeons to refer to (and my patients love that I am not afraid to refer them to a plastic surgeon, then if they do get surgery I can help them maintain beautiful skin). I never hesitate to get another physician of a different specialty involved if necessary to properly treat the patient. This “total” approach in my practice has proven to have made a lot of patients achieve healthier and better looking skin through specialized and personalized treatments.
I stick to what I know and what I expertly specialize in and my patients love that about me. It’s much more about what you know now then where you came from (your primary training) and what you knew then. The fact that I do not spread myself too thin allows me to spend plenty of quality time with each patient. That is something you will often read in our patient reviews.
The conditions I treat require specialized training, medical/surgical/dermatological knowledge and philosophies, and time with patients to help people achieve their skin health and beauty goals. Read our reviews, let our patients tell you how happy they are when they see the specialist!