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« Medical Spa Article from Healthy Aging Mag | Main | Dermacare Laser & Skin Clinics... goes under? »

Are a dermatologists medical patients second class citizens?

There's been some debate about whether it's ethical for dermatologists to be focusing on treating cosmetic patients at the expense of skin cancer and other 'real medical' patients.

Here's an example via WPS:

NY Times Article: As Doctors Cater to Looks, Skin Patients Wait

“Cosmetic patients have a much more private environment than general medical patients because they expect that,” said Dr. Richey, who estimated that he spent about 40 percent of his time treating cosmetic patients. “We are a little bit more sensitive to their needs.”

Like airlines that offer first-class and coach sections, dermatology is fast becoming a two-tier business in which higher-paying customers often receive greater pampering. In some dermatologists’ offices, freer-spending cosmetic patients are given appointments more quickly than medical patients for whom health insurance pays fixed reimbursement fees.

In other offices, cosmetic patients spend more time with a doctor. And in still others, doctors employ a special receptionist, called a cosmetic concierge, for their beauty patients.

...According to a presentation for doctors from Allergan, the makers of Botox, a medical dermatology practice might have a net income of $387,198 annually, but a dermatologist who decreased focus on skin diseases while adding cosmetic medical procedures to a practice could net $695,850 annually. The same material advises doctors to “identify and segment high priority customers.”

Reader Comments (10)

Besides the money, what's really interesting is the wait time for an appointment. Now, who is going to tell me that money is not the key criteria for most of these Doctors who have gotten into the beauty business? This information, not only comes from the New York times, but the Dermatology Association study as well.

07.30 | Unregistered CommenterWPS

I freqently tell patients who really need a derm consult for a cancerous skin lesion to call and say "it's for botox"...they get in much faster!

07.30 | Unregistered CommenterTF

That's, exactly, the point. A true medical patient shouldn't have to lie to get decent treatment in a reasonable time.

07.30 | Unregistered CommenterWPS

Its a fact.thanks for the post.

08.12 | Unregistered CommenterAcai Berry

So what about the Internists and Family docs that no longer practice what they were trained for, but now are pretending to be cosmetic dermatologists? Are they doing it to help mankind? At least derms were trained to do cosmetic dermatology, and most still practice medical dermatology.

08.15 | Unregistered Commenterdisgusted


You are right. The reason it is becoming so hard to have a profitable medspa is that there are too many physicians getting into it part time and when you get enough of them they take a good chunk of the market away from the folks that have dedicated themselves to this industry.

08.20 | Unregistered CommenterWPS

How do you think we could fix this to make it fair for everyone? Fixed salaries? Medical priority system? I'm not really sure what one can do to even things out while still keeping a free market economy.

08.29 | Unregistered CommenterCharity

These things happen when the demand is there. It is all about business, nothing personal, no hard feeling.

I agree with Dr Joe. This capitalism.

Dr. Joe,

This is so true about fair market, but Docs shouldn't cry in their coffee when business owners such as WPS and myself get into the Med Spa business and hire medical professionals to preform the various treatments. It is all about business and free market and Docs can't have it both ways.

10.7 | Unregistered CommenterSBJ

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