In an article published in Allure last week, seasoned beauty writer Jolene Edgar interviewed several derms on the best questions patients should ask their cosmetic dermatologist the next time you go in for a consultation. Here’s the roundup.
What do you think? This great suggestion was recommended by Dr. Robert Anolik, and I think most patients do ask the doctor what they think. It is more the exception than the rule for a patient to come see me knowing exactly what they want and how they want it done (or as Ms. Edgar aptly puts it: “Voluma, please. Here and here.” I laughed when I read that!) Nevertheless a good reminder for veteran filler/Botox patients that you stand to benefit from hearing someone else’s opinion.
What’s your aesthetic? Dr. Alexiades proposed that this be a staple question when seeing a cosmetic dermatologist, because your goals and the doctor’s goals may not align. Even though doctors can tailor treatments to a range of patients’ aesthetics, ultimately, if you’re totally not on the same page, the relationship may not work. NB: I do think it’s possible to put your personal aesthetic sense aside and treat a patient in accordance to his/her aesthetic wishes. A good example is Botox — no other treatment has as wide a range of “appropriate response” from those who want no movement at all, to those who want mild tweaking. Also, a dermatologist’s aesthetic is best assessed by looking at their patients, not by asking them this question straight out.
Could my diet be affecting my skin? Outside-in or inside-out? Dr. Bowe suggests that patients be reminded that what they put in their mouths will impact the longevity of their cosmetic laser skin treatments, thus diet is a topic to bring up to your dermatologist.
How can I slow down the signs of aging? I love this question. Everyone, even a newborn, is aging (a line I oft borrow from Gwyneth Paltrow’s book). But, asking how to promote skin rejuvenation is brilliant because prevention is the mother of….. well, you know what I mean. This question will show your dermatologist that you’re in it to win it. Thank you, Dr. Zeichner, for this one!
How often do I have to be treated to stay looking my best? Yes, it’s important to make sure to ask the doctor when your next treatment should be. Even better is a sense of the roadmap for the next 12 months. Planning ahead will help you schedule treatments that work well with your schedule and vacations. No use in starting sun damage treatments right before you head to Hawaii.
What products should I use to maintain these results? Products help to maintain your treatments, they do not replace them.
How much is too much? Dr. Idriss emphasized that doctors need to set limits on patients who want to go overboard with cosmetics. Face tightening is desirable, face freezing is not.
WHAT YOU NEED TO ASK YOUR COSMETIC DERMATOLOGIST:
Always begin by stating your top concerns about your appearance, then ask:
What do you think?
After the doctor gives their opinion (you did, after all, come to her for this insight and wisdom), consider whether the specific concerns he/she has align with yours. It’s possible that melasma treatment is important to him, but not to you. Follow up with:
Which treatments do you recommend for me?
Ideally you will have a specific list of treatments that will improve your appearance and make you look like the best you. Finally ask for specifics:
How many of XYZ treatments will I need? In what order should I do these treatments? What is the downtime/recovery, and cost?
If you are concerned about excessive sagging anywhere on the face, bear in mind that plastic surgery may be the best option for you, even if you aren’t interested in it. You may want to be clear with your dermatologist up front and state your feelings about surgery from the get-go.
There is nothing worse than going to see a doctor with a problem and walking out confused. Don’t let that happen.