Dermatology is a medical branch that deals with skin, hair and related diseases. The last 20 years have witnessed a tremendous growth in this field and in cosmetic dermatology, that educates dermatologists, plastic surgeons and physicians in other related fields. According to the Medscape’s 2014 Compensation Report, dermatologists fall towards the top among all physicians, with average earnings of $308,000.
What do they do?
A branch of medicine, dermatology deals with the skin and its diseases. This speciality involves both medical and surgical interventions. Dermatologists treat diseases as well as cosmetic problems of the skin, hair, scalp and nails.
“Dermatology is one of the top fields now because our students figure in the top 20 rankings of all postgraduate students in the institute,” says Neena Khanna, professor, department of dermatology and venereology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
Jyoti Dhawan, 29, who has done her MD in dermatology, says “There are no lengthy surgical procedures in this field.” An alumnus of Delhi’s University College of Medical Sciences, now senior resident doctor at AIIMS, Dhawan and her colleagues treat patients suffering from psoriasis, sexually transmitted diseases, leprosy and vitiligo, though a growing number — more than 30 per cent — comes for cosmetic problems, including acne, informs Khanna. Consequently, she adds, the curriculum is now more focused on cosmetology. “We train students in lasers, cosmetic and dermatological surgery and cosmetology.”
Points out SK Bose, senior consultant dermatologist, Apollo Hospital, “Most dermatologists now do more than the basic dermatology that was done 30 to 40 years ago. Nowadays, everyone wants to go in for cosmetic dermatology.” Simal Soin, cosmetic dermatologist and medical director, A Plus Medispa, agrees, “People who have done basic dermatology are now foraying into cosmetic dermatology.”
The maximum demand for their skills is in the private sector, where dermatologists smoothen facial wrinkles, fill up scars, lift droopy brow lines, de-fuzz underarms, and a lot more. However, regular MD programmes train students “very little” in cosmetic dermatology, says Soin. “Except lasers, they don’t really equip you (with the requisite skills).”
In the absence of many specialised courses in India, experts suggest that after an MD in dermatology, aspirants could go overseas for short-term certifications. Bose suggests that students train abroad in aesthetic, cosmetic and photo dermatology, contact dermatitis, trichology (concerned with hair), chronological photo-ageing, cutaneous surgery, and laser treatment and start practising. Pursue at least a one-month certification with hands-on experience, in a foreign country, says Soin. Else, work under a cosmetic dermatologist and attend conferences, she says.
- Aesthetic sense
- Counselling skills for dealing with patients
- Skilled hands for surgery
- Lots of patience
- Soft, sympathetic approach to patients
How do I get there?
Opt for science with physics, chemistry and biology at the Plus Two level. Follow an MBBS degree with one of the options: a) a two-year MD programme in dermatology; b) do a house job, clear the primary exam of the National Board of Examination and then take up a three-year DNB programme in dermatology; c) do a house job, earn a diploma in dermatology and then complete a two-year DNB programme. If you wish to do cosmetic dermatology, you can go abroad for short-term certifications. Else, train under a senior specialist. In Delhi, Behl Skin Institute and School of Dermat- ology offers a correspondence course (fellowship) in dermatology to medicine grads.