Cosmetic Dermatology vs Medical Dermatology

Thanks to innovations in technology and technique, the fields of cosmetic and medical dermatology are offering ever more ingenious ways to help patients achieve healthy skin. But there are some clear differences between the two fields. If you’re wondering whether your concerns fall in the aesthetic or medical camp, take a look at our quick guide on cosmetic and medical dermatology.

Cosmetic Dermatology vs Medical Dermatology?

What are the key differences between cosmetic dermatology and medical dermatology? For one thing, cosmetic dermatology can help patients look younger or help patients attain more alluring, flawless skin. On the other hand, medical dermatology is a field dedicated to helping patients treat health issues related to the skin.

In real life, there isn’t so much of a clear-cut distinction; many experts in medical dermatology use their vast knowledge and training to deliver aesthetics with great skill. And while some practices focus on one or the other, there are practices who are passionate enough about providing comprehensive care that they offer both—like the Comprehensive Dermatology Center of Pasadena.

What’s Cosmetic Dermatology?

Cosmetic dermatology consists of nonsurgical aesthetic treatments performed by dermatologists—and it’s a field that’s growing quickly. The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery collected data over the years and found that over 11,674,754 nonsurgical cosmetic procedures were performed in 2016—and the number is only going up. Today, more and more cosmetic treatments are being developed, allowing patients to choose from countless of different procedures for all sorts of skin conditions and signs of aging. From laser treatments to powerful skin care products, cosmetic dermatologists have the experience and knowledge of the skin to help patients achieve real results.

Skin Care Products

Cosmetic dermatologists can offer medical grade skin care to help patients achieve flawless, younger looking skin. Over-the-counter products do have active ingredients, but in order to make them safe for the general public, the active ingredients are very much diluted. Because medical grade skin care is given by a medical professional, they have the proper concentrations of active ingredients to create real results.


Injectables are specially formulated solutions that are injected into the skin. They can be divided into dermal fillers, which are a kind of smooth gel that lifts the skin or smooths out deep wrinkles, and neuromodulators like Botox®, which reduces the appearance of certain wrinkles.

Laser Treatments

Laser treatments use either laser or light energy to remove unsightly blemishes from the skin or rebuild the skin into a younger, smoother form. Laser energy can also be used for long-lasting hair reduction and for removing unsightly redness and veins from the face and legs.

Vein Removal

Cosmetic dermatologists can soften the appearance of large, unsightly veins using sclerotherapy, a treatment that injects a solution into the vasculature to collapse overly-dilated veins.

What’s Medical Dermatology?

Medical dermatology is usually what we think of when we think of dermatology. Dermatologists analyze, diagnose, and treat patients for various medical disorders of the skin. These conditions can range from the harmless, like eczema, to the life threatening, like skin cancer. Dermatologists need years of training and experience to treat such a wide range of conditions: for instance, dermatologists need to complete four years of medical school, one year of internship, and three years of training in a specialized field.

Just a few of the conditions that medical dermatology can treat include:

Skin Cancer

Medical dermatologists can analyze suspected skin cancer, perform a biopsy, and plan a treatment for removing the skin cancer. Dermatologists are also trained to remove skin cancer in a way that doesn’t result in deformities.

Chronic Acne

Chronic adult acne can cause years of frustration and embarrassment, and it’s often impervious to over-the-counter treatments or changes in lifestyle. Dermatologists can recommend a number of treatments from topical medications, oral medications, to steroid injections to help patients achieve smooth skin once and for all.


Eczema is a type of skin condition that causes itchy, dry, red patches to appear on the skin. It’s caused by certain overactive skin cells creating too many skin cells at a time. Eczema is seen as unsightly by some patients, but it can also lead to painful blistering. Dermatologists can treat eczema with powerful steroidal creams, antibacterial medication, and certain lotions. Dermatologists can also treat eczema with phototherapy, a nonsurgical treatment that uses light energy to suppress the overactive skin cells responsible for eczema.


This chronic skin condition causes patients to have perpetually red, flushed faces. It’s triggered by certain situations, but as of today there is no known cure. Dermatologists, however, can prescribe powerful treatments to help patients manage and mitigate rosacea.

In the end, patients shouldn’t have to choose between the aesthetic and the medical; it’s why at the Comprehensive Dermatology Center of Pasadena, patients can have a medical treatment that results in clearer, healthier skin and have powerful aesthetic treatments that actually work. If you want to learn more about our treatments, contact us now for a consultation.