Photography by Coffee and Milk.

As with selecting any doctor for your medical care, choosing a dermatologist is a very personal decision. In addition to the obvious vetting of credentials, there are many other elements to take into consideration when deciding who to entrust with your skin. To help those who may be seeking a physician, we spoke with four experts across the country about what to look for, and how to select a dermatologist who is perfectly suited to your needs. Read on for their advice, and find a dermatologist in your area in The Scout Guide Directory here.

Look for specific board certification. It goes without saying that your dermatologist should be “board certified” with the American Board of Dermatology or the American Osteopathic Board of Dermatology, says Allison Readinger, MD at Trinity Vista Dermatology in Fort Worth, Texas. A board-certified dermatologist has spent eight years in medical education and completed between 12,000 to 16,000 hands-on patient care hours in residency. This level of training is what makes a board-certified dermatologist uniquely trained to take care of your skin, hair, or nail conditions, she explains. “Some other businesses may claim to have a board-certified physician, but this may not be a dermatologist, or the person may not be a physician at all,” she notes. “So be careful to check the specific wording used and don’t be afraid to do a little research on who it is you might be seeing.” Keep in mind that many dermatologists utilize a physician extender, such as a physician assistant or nurse practitioner, in order to maximize efficiency and patient needs within a practice. Still, says Readinger, there should always be an open line of communication between the extender and the board-certified dermatologist and the opportunity to see or speak to the board-certified dermatologist if needed.

Know their specialty. Dermatologists specialize in many areas, including surgical, medical, cosmetic, and/or laser dermatology, says Ann Zedlitz, MD, board-certified dermatologist and owner of Z Aesthetic Dermatology in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Therefore, it’s a good idea to research prospective dermatologists’ areas of expertise and recognize that, depending on your needs, you may require more than one.

Always choose a cosmetic dermatology expert when seeking those services. One of the primary reasons people visit a dermatologist is if for cosmetic concerns. According to Zedlitz, if that’s the case, you want to make sure the physician you choose for procedures such as filler and Botox does these types of treatments all day and every day. “Some general dermatologists will do injectables, but they may see those types of patients only once or twice a week,” she explains. “A cosmetic dermatologist who focuses solely on cosmetics will do these treatments all day every day and thus perfect their skill.”

Inquire about medication rates. Not everyone is on board with taking medication to clear up skin issues and would prefer a more cautious or natural approach to skincare. If this is a concern of yours, Audrey Bolema, owner and aesthetician of Raw Rituale Med Spa in Denver, Colorado, recommends asking the dermatologist what their rate of putting people on a medication like accutane is, similar to how one might ask an OB about their c-section rate.

Ensure your personalities are a good fit. “An effective treatment plan is founded in a trusting relationship between the doctor and the patient,” says Monique Kademian, MD, FAAD at VÉRITÉ Dermatology Boutique in Columbus, Ohio. In addition to top-notch care, Kademian makes accessibility, and an open rapport where patients feel heard and understood, a priority. Additionally, a physician who can educate patients is immensely important, she notes.

Be aware of payment policies. Many practices use a direct pay model to allow for transparency and focus on patient care, Kademain explains. While others do take insurance, Readinger notes it’s a good idea to understand how your policy covers procedures so there are no surprises. Most patients with private insurance do have a deductible and may be responsible for costs of covered procedures until the deductible is met.

TSG Tip 411 from Allison Readinger, MD at Trinity Vista Dermatology in Fort Worth, Texas; Ann Zedlitz, MD, board-certified dermatologist and owner of Z Aesthetic Dermatology in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Audrey Bolema, owner and aesthetician of Raw Rituale Med Spa in Denver, Colorado; and Monique Kademian, MD, FAAD at VÉRITÉ Dermatology Boutique in Columbus, Ohio. Trinity Vista Dermatology is featured in The Scout Guide Fort Worth. Z Aesthetic Dermatology is featured in The Scout Guide Baton Rouge. Raw Rituale Med Spa is featured in The Scout Guide Denver. VÉRITÉ Dermatology Boutique is featured in The Scout Guide Columbus