9 Things Your Dermatologist Wants You to Know Before Booking Your Appointment

From treating blemishes to diagnosing skin cancer, a good dermatologist can help any patient pinpoint the underlying cause of their issues. But, if you feel like you haven’t gotten the most of your latest dermatologist visit, know that there are ways to ensure a more productive appointment.

And of course scheduling your next visit is just a phone call or email away, but prepping for your appointment is really what’s key. Ready for your dermatologist visits to run more smoothly? Here are nine dermatologist-recommended tips to know before you book. 

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Do Some Prep Work First 

Even if you think you have a good idea of what’s actually troubling your skin, prep work is probably the best thing anyone can do before their visit. Making a list of concerns beforehand not only guarantees a smoother and more time-efficient appointment, but also allows your doctor to come up with a more accurate diagnosis.

“I can't tell you how many patients come for a visit and spend at least 40 minutes discussing their concerns,” explains New York dermatologist Debra Jaliman, MD. “What’s worse is once they leave the exam room, they immediately remember something else, and it really destroys the schedule for the day.”

To prep with ease, experts like Dr. Jaliman recommend making a detailed list highlighting your family history, medications you take and your overall skin concerns. Providing your physician with any information on any past dermatologist visits can also be extremely helpful. This can help your new dermatologist understand any treatment plans you may have had in the past.

“It is helpful to know if you have been previously diagnosed with skin diseases, because it can be relevant to a current issue and help with the diagnosis and management,” explains Beverly Hills, CA, dermatologist Tsippora Shainhouse, MD. “In addition, if you have responded well (or particularly not well) to a treatment in the past, it is helpful to inform your current dermatologist so that they can best treat you.” 

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Bring in Some Photos

Understanding your skin can be a tricky thing, so bringing in some helpful photographs can be a great form of documentative evidence. Some skin conditions can be sporadic, and having photos on hand can definitely show your dermatologist just exactly what is going on.

“Photos can be very helpful to a dermatologist,” adds Dr. Jaliman. “My inbox is usually filled with photos, and I found that I’ve become a dermatologist even by email.”

In addition to showcasing your skin concerns, photographs are another great resource in regards to cosmetic procedure appointments. Bringing in photos of yourself at a younger age for example, can help illustrate to your dermatologist what exactly you are looking for.

“It is helpful to bring younger pictures of yourself to cosmetic procedure appointments,” agrees Harrison, NY, dermatologist and antioxidant expert Debbie Palmer, MD. “Pictures can show the individual's features at a younger age that they would like to be recreated.”

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Always Have Realistic Expectations

It takes your skin some time to become acclimated with new medications and treatments, so don’t expect for it to become magically treated overnight. According to Dr. Jaliman, it usually takes six to eight weeks for new medications to really start working. So, being patient and realistic about your treatment plan is a good place to start.

“People come for an acne visit, and then call me two days later and say the medication is not working,” adds Dr. Jaliman. “What they don’t realize is that it can take up to six to eight weeks for medication to really work.”

Lack of education also contributes to false expectations, as media outlets, in particular, fail to convey the downside of skin care treatments. That’s why Chevy Chase, MD, dermatologist and founder and director of  Capital Laser & Skin Care, Elizabeth Tanzi, MD, stresses the importance of education through help of a dermatologist.

“Sometimes the media can highlight the advantages of a procedure without discussing the downside,” says Dr. Tanzi. “It’s up to us as dermatologists to help educate patients about the reality of such treatments.” 

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Wear Loose Clothing When You Arrive

Dermatologist appointments can take some time, so you’ll definitely want to wear comfortable clothing upon your visit. But comfort aside, wearing loose clothing also makes it much easier to remove when given a gown for skin care exams. Oftentimes, patients tend to wear tight and complicated clothing, making it difficult to perform examinations.

“If you are coming to have a mole check, expect to get completely undressed at your visit,” explains Dr. Shainhouse.“You will be given a gown to wear and your dermatologist will take the time to examine your entire body.” 

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Never Wear Makeup

You may rely on some foundation and concealer to get you through the day, but when visiting your dermatologist, it’s highly recommended to pass on the makeup. Your physician is definitely going to want to get a closer look at your skin, so going in sans makeup can help show what’s really going on when your dermatologist isn't around.

“If you wear makeup to your appointment, chances are you'll just have to take it off, as a dermatologist needs to see the imperfections you may be concerned about,” explains Dr. Jaliman. 

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Remove Your Nail Polish Before Your Appointment

Aside from treating a wide variety of skin conditions, dermatologists also pay close attention to the health of your nails, especially because some skin cancers tend to form on your nail beds. To help your dermatologist get a clearer glimpse of your nails, it’s wise to remove your nail polish before arriving to your appointment. 

“We’d love to see your natural nails to make sure that they are healthy,” says Fruitland, ID, dermatologist and founder of Epionce Skincare Carl Thornfeldt, MD. “The reason I like to look at the nails is because nail fungus can sometimes be the cause of body rashes. Additionally, people can have moles under their nails, and those moles tend to be more aggressive.” 

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Be Honest About Your Concerns

Communication and honesty are key when visiting your physician, especially because sharing your complete skin story will help strengthen your treatment plan. So, while it may be intimidating to ask questions about things you really don’t understand, Dr. Shainhouse prefers them, being that they help create a better dialogue between both dermatologist and patient. “Do not be afraid to speak up during your visit,” she says. “If you do not understand your treatment plan, ask that it be explained again, or written out for you more clearly.” 


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Be Sure To Check Your Insurance

Insurance companies are more than likely to cover dermatologist visits, but it’s still important to call your carrier in advance to find out what is, and isn’t covered. Dr. Shainhouse cautions that certain procedures can fail to be covered. “Some procedures are considered cosmetic and therefore aren’t covered by insurance,” she says. “You can choose to pay out of pocket to have these procedures performed, while other procedures may not be covered until a specific deductible is met for your personal health insurance parameters.” 


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Never Book Treatments On The Same Day Of An Event

Dermatologists also recommend never booking treatments on the same day of any major event, being that some procedures like peels and injectables can leave your skin looking inflamed and irritated.

To avoid any irritation, swelling and redness, Dr. Jaliman recommends booking your appointment a week in advance to ensure your skin looks its very best. And with adequate recovery time, you won’t have to worry about bruising the day your big event actually arrives.

“If you book an appointment on the day of an important event and you have Botox or filler, you may experience bruising and swelling,” says Dr. Jaliman. 

1 Comment
  • Daniel Draper
    Posted on

    I am most definitely a skincare junky. I have always taken care of my skin and the time and effort I put into it definitely has paid off. You have to research about the right products that will work best for your skin type. These questions are great and I used them at my last doctor visit. He was happy I had done my research. Great questions. Thank you

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