When It Comes to "Care" - Doctors Are Choosing "Looks" Over "Medical"

HealthGal Health Guide
  • According to a weekend NY Times article, when you call your local skin care doctor/specialist - if you're calling about a cosmetic procedure or treatment - that phone will be fielded by a lovely human voice who will handle your request quickly; call about a medical skin care problem for say eczema or psoriasis - and you'll more than likely be leaving a message on an answering machine.  These requests, though, are going into the same office and doctor.  What gives??


    The skin care industry is becoming a two - tiered system - cosmetic clients are rewarded with respectful and close attention - could it be because they tend to be cash cows??  The person calling with a suspected skin cancer, suspicious mole or annoying skin rash - is typically a patient who will be covered by insurance, a much less attractive financial position.  And in some cases, even the waiting room decor will differ dramatically - with soft music, beautifully appointed furniture and attractive receptionists/nurses in the "cosmetic area," while the "medical arena" offers a sparse clinical setting.

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    It might also be noted according to some studies quoted in the NY Times article, that nurse practitioners and physician assistants are increasingly seeing the medical grade skin patients, while the doctors graciously greet the cosmetic procedure- seeking patient.  Being a physician assistant myself, I can assure you that we are well-trained and will confirm our diagnosis with the doctor (when in question) but that's not the point.  I also noted in the article that typically even the medical grade patient will be offered some "skin beauty regimen" that has nothing to do with their primary complaint - just because they are there.


    Let's remember that if you go in for a procedure covered by insurance - the doctor will typically make about $60-90 bucks for the visit; go in for Botox - and that is a minimum of $500.  Dermatologists can supplement their income substantially by "crossing over to cosmetics."  And trust me, the patient who receives laser/Botox/chemical peel will get a follow up call; the patient who gets put on a new psoriasis cream won't. 


    Now don't give up hope - some dermatologists do see both types of patients and book them according to first come first serve.  According to the trends we are seeing, though, it might behoove you to mention, when calling for a serious skin issue, that you are also interested in hearing about rejuvination.  You may just beat them at their own game!!!

Published On: July 28, 2008