28 May 2014

Finding A Good Dermatologist

Over the years, I've certainly seen my fair share of dermatologists. Changing dermatologists is likely one of the most stressful parts of moving around for me. It takes a while to build a mutual trust, especially when there is a personal history of skin cancer. Usually, around the time I get comfortable with a dermatologist is when it's time to pick up and move again (all assuming I find a good fit right off the bat and don't have to doctor shop.) Because of my experience in hopping from place to place and consequently, doctor to doctor, I thought I'd share some of the things I look for when meeting a dermatologist for the first time.  

good dermatologist

|| Are they listening to me? Like really listening. A "gut feeling" is why my original melanoma was diagnosed. No, I'm not a doctor, but I do know my body and expect my dermatologist to at least listen and acknowledge my questions/concerns. In the same breath however, I need them to hear me when I say I'm anxious! I would have them remove all of my skin if that were a possibility! So, I also need them to reign me in a bit.

|| Are they using their eyes and hands to examine my skin? This was a tip I learned from my oncologist at MD Anderson. The dermatologist needs to cover every inch of my skin with not only their eyes, but with their hands as well. Skin cancers can present as tiny flesh colored bumps under the skin that can only be discovered by touch.

|| In addition to their eyes and hands, are they employing other tools to get a better look at any atypical moles? I like to see the (careful I'm about to get super technical here) handheld magnifying glass like thingy. As it was explained to me this gives a more clear look at borders, color, etc.

|| It probably goes without saying that I look for a dermatologist with a skin cancer specialty and/or extensive experience with melanoma, not a med spa dermatologist.

|| What is their personal style as a physician? Are they conservative? Aggressive? Are they going to take everything off or do they like to just wait and see? At this point in the game, I like a healthy balance of the two styles. It's ok to "watch" some spots, but by all means, if the doctor doesn't like it take. it. off

|| Is their lab in house, or do they send their pathology elsewhere? This is really more of a luxury than anything, but certainly something to consider as it impacts your wait time. If I have a mole removed and the lab is in the dermatologist's office, I may only have to wait a day or so. If I have a mole removed and it needs to be sent out to a lab, that could take over a week! Waiting on pathology results is nerve wracking yo!

|| How accessible are they to me? If I wake up one morning and decide I have a mole that has changed or something and I want to be seen...how long is that going to take? Will I be seen quickly? Can I email the dermatologist with questions? Accessibility is so so important to me!

As Skin Cancer Awareness Month draws to a close, I hope you have seen a dermatologist, or at least have plans to. With skin cancer it is so so soo important to be safe in the sun, aware of your skin and proactive with your health!

Do you have a dermatologist you love?

What are some of the things you look for in a dermatologist?

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