What Is The Difference Between A Dermatologist And A Cosmetic Dermatologist?

Dermatologist And A Cosmetic Dermatologist - Zen Dermatology in Sacramento CA

When seeking a solution for your skin concerns, you’ll see many skincare and rejuvenation treatments available for your needs. So patients often wonder, what is the fine line between dermatology services and cosmetic dermatology skin services? At Zen Dermatology, we bring the best of both worlds, bringing you the newest expertise in conditions and aesthetic skin services solutions for your skin concerns. 

Dermatology For Your Skin Concerns

Cosmetic and medical dermatologists are the most common types of dermatologists you see around. Both jobs are necessary, seeing that health and appearance take precedence in our modern society. 

Think of it this way: your skin is the body’s largest organ, and you are covered with it from head to toe. Aside from its size, our skin is remarkably complex, composed of thousands of never endings, sweat glands, hair, and other tissue components. Likewise, it is the most exposed organ in our body, so it is essential to care for your skin. 

Not only is the skin practical, but it also determines how others perceive you. They are an indication of your health, beauty, and wellness.

Why You Need A Dermatologist

Your skin is quite strong and yet, at the same time, quite delicate. Your skin is made of three primary layers, protecting inner organs from the environment outside. For this reason, they are very susceptible to illnesses and visible signs of wear due to aging. 

A dermatologist is someone who addresses any issues that is skin-related. These issues can be as simple as temporary or relatively harmless skin conditions like acne or something as complicated as deadly skin diseases like skin cancer. A dermatologist can help recognize early signs or symptoms of serious skin health issues. 

Now that you know why you need a dermatologist, let’s begin to differentiate the jobs of a medical dermatologist and a cosmetic dermatologist. 

Medical Dermatologist

Medical dermatologists focus solely on the aspects of taking care of skin health. They have a broad knowledge of different skin conditions and how to address them. Their comprehensive expertise can help identify and treat more the 3,000 skin conditions. 

Naturally, that amount of expertise on their hands didn’t happen overnight. Dermatologists did extensive studies and training and went to school for around 12 years. 


No other medical expert had more training than dermatologists regarding skin-related concerns. Before starting their profession, dermatologists acquire more than a decade of training, which can include the following: 

  • Four years of college to achieve a bachelor’s degree.
  • Four years of medical school to become a medical doctor.
  • One-year internship.
  • They have three years of residency, working with broad-certified doctors on the clock. 

Board Certification

After years of hard work, they can finally become board-certified by completing a formidable exam that will test their knowledge and skills. 

There are many different kinds of board certifications. Still, the most well-known are board certifications from the American Board of Dermatology, the American Osteopathic Board of Dermatology, and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. Their respective websites will tell you who passed these exams and earned their board certifications. 

Before picking a dermatologist for your skin concerns, make sure that their names are on any one of these boards, or you can simply check the dermatologist’s website. If they are board-certified, they will want to display their status on their websites. 

What Is A Cosmetic Dermatologist?

Cosmetic dermatologists typically work in general practices, med spas, or aesthetic dermatology clinics. But instead of dedicating their time to skin-related concerns, they are more about addressing skin aesthetics. 

They are not about addressing a patient’s skin health concerns but addressing the patient’s want about skin aesthetic concerns. To put it simply, they focus on correcting skin tone, smoothening wrinkles, tightening skin, treating acne and acne scars, and other skin aesthetic concerns. 

Depending on what and where they practice, some dermatologists can administer an aesthetic treatment without a prior appointment to form a treatment plan. They may also make recommendations and prescribe medications for skincare. 


While cosmetic dermatologists are more concerned about aesthetics, it doesn’t mean they are less trained or educated than medical dermatologists. In fact, it is the opposite. 

To be a cosmetic dermatologist, they had to undergo all the experiences of a dermatologist. That includes the years of training, studies, internship, and residency. On top of that, they have to undergo another set of studies to pursue cosmetic dermatology and their procedures. 

Board Certification

Likewise, they also have to undergo board certification to become a professional, including getting boards from the American Board of Dermatology, the American Osteopathic Board of Dermatology, and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons Canada. 

So just like looking for the ideal dermatologist, you also need to look for their board certifications to determine their expertise. If they have any one of these certifications, you will experience an excellent aesthetic treatment service. 

So you can actually say that cosmetic dermatologists need to have more experience and training than medical dermatologists. 

Services Cosmetic Dermatologists Offer

If you have any cosmetic-related skin concerns, you can have a cosmetic dermatologist fix them for you. Here are some of the services that they offer that can help address your cosmetic concerns:

  • Botox Injections
  • Dermal Fillers
  • Exfoliating Treatments: Microdermabrasion, Chemical Peels, Laser Skin Treatments
  • IPL Therapy
  • Laser Hair Removal
  • Tattoo Removal
  • Eyebrow Tinting
  • Non-Invasive Fat Reduction

Most of the treatments cosmetic dermatologists apply are non-invasive since that’s what the market wants. People are not enthusiastic about undergoing surgical procedures just to look younger and healthier. They will wish for a non-invasive option if possible. 

If you consider a cosmetic dermatologist for your aesthetic treatment, expect a clinical procedure and setting similar to a medical setting. They will offer consultations and then set an appointment at a specific date. If they find any health condition that will cause some unwanted effects, they won’t administer the aesthetic treatment. After all, they did study dermatology to a full extent. 


Contact and reach out to Zen Dermatology if you consider medical or cosmetic dermatology skin services. We address medical and cosmetic skin services, everything for your skin needs. 

RAJA SIVAMANI-Dermatology-CA-Zen Dermatology



I am a native of the San Francisco Bay Area and a board certified Dermatologist. My expertise centers on general dermatology including medical, surgical, and cosmetic services. With training in bioengineering, Allopathic and Ayurvedic medicine, I merge modern research and science with a personalized approach to each patient. My training in Ayurvedic medicine lets me bring in a more humanistic approach to my patient care, science, and research.

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