For Skin Doctors, Cosmetics Trumps Medicine

Vanity clients trump medical patients at dermatologist's office
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 28, 2008 9:13 AM CDT
Cosmetic procedures are increasingly displacing medical treatments at American dermatology clinics.   (Index Stock)
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(Newser) – These days, dermatologists offer luxurious treatment rooms and personalized services for high-paying cosmetic clients seeking a Botox injection. But for those suffering medical conditions, the experience can be far less personal—increasingly, skin doctors are hiring assistants and nurse practitioners to handle everything from psoriasis to skin cancer. The New York Times looks at how vanity procedures are transforming dermatology and pushing serious skin care aside.

Beauty treatments are up 130% since 2005, and a study found dermatologists offered appointments to patients seeking Botox more quickly than to ones concerned about precancerous moles. The appeal for doctors is evident: while insurers might pay up to $90 for a skin cancer check, a cosmetic patient will pay $500 immediately. "The message is that the cosmetic patient is more important than the medical patient," said the head of the American Academy of Dermatology, "and that’s not a good message."