What is a dermatologist?

Dr. Kuzel: A dermatologist is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of skin disorders. After completing medical school, a board-certified dermatologist in Canada must complete a 5-year residency training program in order to become a dermatologist. Many dermatologists then go on to further subspecialize in areas such as pediatric dermatology,  allergic contact dermatitis, oncology, surgical dermatology or cosmetic/laser dermatology.  

Question: When should a person visit a dermatologist?

Dr.Kuzel: If they have skin disorders, concerns about a skin cancer, cosmetic concerns such as fine lines or skin texture issues, or even questions about how to care for your skin, dermatologists are the most qualified physicians to address these needs.

Question: Do you need a doctor’s note to get an appointment with a dermatologist?

Dr.Kuzel: We recommend a referral from your family physician. As of right now our clinic has a rapid access form to accommodate new patients. Just print it off our website, bring it to your family doctor, and if your skin concerns fall into one of the 6 categories listed on the form we can see you without a wait.

Question: What is the most common treatment/service you provide as a dermatologist?

Dr.Kuzel: We see a variety of cases on a daily basis at the clinic. In fact, this variety is one of the things that attracted me to the field in the first place! We see everything from skin cancer, to psoriasis, to eczema, to acne, to rare autoimmune conditions such as lupus. On the cosmetic side, we offer a broad range of services including treatments for wrinkles and fine lines; laser resurfacing treatments for acne scarring, blood vessels, sun spots and more; laser hair removal; non-invasive body sculpting and fat reduction; skin tightening; chemical peels and more!

Question: What does a first appointment with you look like?

Dr.Kuzel: On a first appointment, a patient will first fill out a new patient intake form where we ask you numerous questions about your previous medical history and current skin concerns. You will then be taken into a room by one of our experienced dermatology nurses who will take a thorough history and ensure that each and every one of your concerns are addressed during your visit. You will then be seen by me, and we will go through each one of your skin concerns in detail. I am very big on establishing rapport with each and every one of my patients, and taking the time to listen to their concerns. Excellent communication and a trusting patient-physician relationship is key to providing excellence in patient care.  

Question: Do you have to attend multiple appointments to see benefits? If so what is the typical period of duration for most client?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Dr.Kuzel: The number of visits a patient requires varies widely, and is completely dependent on the skin condition they are presenting with. Some conditions, such as psoriasis or eczema, can be chronic lifelong conditions, and in these cases long term follow up is required. For other conditions such as skin cancer, we often make a diagnosis and treat the condition in only a few visits, however in these cases we also establish a long term follow up regimen to ensure we are monitoring for signs of any additional skin cancers which may appear.

Most of our cosmetic clientele are also long term patients of ours. For most cosmetic treatments we provide, results are seen after the very first visit.

Question: How much does a typical appointment cost?

Dr.Kuzel: Appointments for medical dermatology concerns such as acne, psoriasis, eczema or skin cancer are always covered and do not cost anything. Sometimes, part of the treatment regimen we decide on involves certain treatments or procedures which may come with an additional cost, however this is very dependent on the specific condition and the treatment plan required for each individual patient. Cosmetic dermatology appointments also do not cost anything, including during an initial consultation, however cosmetic treatments and our retail skincare product offerings do come at a cost, which vary widely depending on the treatments being considered.

All medical treatments provided by a dermatologist are covered by Alberta Health. Any additional surcharges which may be incurred during a visit to a dermatologist involve treatments or procedures which are not covered by the public health system, such as the removal of a benign mole for cosmetic reasons, cosmetic laser treatments, or non-prescription skincare products such as sunscreens (which everyone should get into the habit of wearing daily)!

Question: What should you look for when you a choosing a good dermatologist?

Dr. Kuzel: Probably the most important first step is to ensure that you are actually seeing a board-certified dermatologist! There are many medical and non-medical practitioners in the community who may appear to be skin specialists or indeed do have a clinical focus on various aspects of skin care, however only a board-certified dermatologist has undergone the extensive five or more years of specialty training to allow them to most effectively diagnose and treat any and all skin concerns you may have.  

Question: Is there anything else that you think people should know about dermatology?

Dr.Kuzel: Dermatology is a highly specialized, technical field of medicine. Many people assume that we do not diagnose and treat serious skin conditions, but in fact I would say that we save lives on a regular basis. For example, through our skin cancer screenings, we pick up numerous cases of melanoma (the most serious form of skin cancer) on a weekly basis. Trusting your care to a board-certified dermatologist is the best way to ensure that such lesions are not overlooked or misdiagnosed.

*Interview has been edited for length.

If you are looking to connect with Dr.Kuzel you can currently find him at the Laser Rejuvenation Clinic and Spa; however as of February 2018 the practice that he is part of will be opening as a brand new clinic called Rejuvenation Cosmetic and Laser Dermatology.

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