Cosmetic surgery

  • The American Academy of Dermatology urges patients considering cosmetic surgery to choose a board-certified physician. Dermatologists are board-certified doctors who have expertise in the medical, surgical, and cosmetic treatment of skin, hair and nails.
  • While non-physicians performing cosmetic procedures in spas, shopping malls and walk-in clinics may offer convenience, the limited equipment, training and supervision available to handle complications or medical emergencies can jeopardize the health and appearance of the patient.  
  • The American Academy of Dermatology recommends patients do their homework and consider a doctor’s training and credentials before deciding if a particular physician is the right choice for them.


As with any surgical procedure, there are risks associated with cosmetic surgery. However, patients can reduce the risks by asking the right questions.

  • What are the doctor’s credentials? Is he/she a board-certified dermatologist or other appropriately trained physician? Ask to see his/her credentials.
  • How many of these procedures has the physician performed? The procedure should be one that the doctor performs regularly.
  • What results can be expected? How long is the recuperation period? Ask to see before and after photos of the physician’s previous patients.
  • What are the risks?
  • Where is the procedure being performed? The procedure should be performed in a medical center or doctor’s office, not a non-medical spa, shopping mall, or private party.
  • What is the cost?


  • Wrinkle fillers, commonly known as fillers, can help restore a plump, youthful appearance to skin.
  • Fillers are commonly used to treat facial lines and wrinkles, hollow cheeks, sunken eyes, receding chins, thinning lips, and deep wrinkles between the eyes.  
  • Filler substances are placed just below the surface of the skin and increase the skin’s volume.
  • Selecting the proper filler is an important part of the process, and dermatologists have the knowledge and expertise to help you decide which is best for you.
  • Fillers need to be injected by an experienced and well-trained physician, such as a dermatologist, in order to achieve the best results and reduce the risk of side effects.


  • Botulinum toxin weakens the affected muscle to soften wrinkles on the face.
  • A dermatologist can perform the treatment during a single office visit. The improvements last about 3 to 4 months — and sometimes longer.
  • Getting botulinum toxin therapy in a non-medical setting can be extremely dangerous. To protect your health, you should never get botulinum toxin injections at a non-medical spa, salon, party, or someone's home.


  • Laser skin resurfacing is a procedure specifically designed to remove superficial and moderately deep wrinkles of the face.
  • Lasers work by producing an intense beam of bright light that travels to the affected area of the skin.
  • Advancements in laser skin resurfacing allow healing to occur much more rapidly and with minimal discomfort to the patient. In addition, improvements in laser technology have allowed dermatologists to treat people of color safely and effectively.


  • Liposuction is a surgical procedure used to remove localized pockets of excess fat that do not respond to diet or exercise.
  • Tumescent liposuction, which was developed by a dermatologist and uses local anesthesia, is the standard of care for the procedure due to its safety and effectiveness.
  • Dermatology is one of the only specialties that includes liposuction training in its residency requirements.
  • Some of the aggressive approaches that are not recommended when selecting a physician to perform any kind of liposuction procedure include:
    • Extracting excessive amounts of fat.
    • Performing multiple procedures during the same surgery.
    • Using general anesthesia.


  • Spider veins are formed by the dilation of a small group of blood vessels located close to the surface of the skin and are most commonly found on the face and legs.
  • Varicose veins are abnormally swollen or enlarged blood vessels caused by a weakening in the vein’s wall, which often leads to pain and swelling in the leg.
  • The exact causes of spider and varicose veins are unknown, although heredity, pregnancy, and hormonal changes are believed to be contributing factors.
  • Treatments include:
    • Laser procedures.
    • Endovascular laser surgery.
    • Radiofrequency closure.
    • Ambulatory phlebectomy.
    • Sclerotherapy.
    • Intense Pulsed Light.

    For more information on cosmetic procedures, visit the Dermatology A to Z section of the Academy’s website.