Experts Say

What to Expect From Your Trip to a Dermatologist

A skin check is an important part of your melanoma prevention checklist. If you’ve never had a skin check before this will help you frame your expectations for the visit. The earlier you find a skin cancer, the easier it is to treat successfully. Both skin self-examinations and professional skin exams are useful for early detection of skin cancers, including melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

Dermatologists have special training that includes the diagnosis and management of skin cancers. When you see a dermatologist for a complete skin checkup, expect a 10-15-minute visit, including a review of your medical history and a head-to-toe skin examination.

For a full body, head-to-toe exam, you will be asked to remove your clothes and sometimes undergarments, in exchange for a gown.  On average, your full body skin exam will take approximately 10 minutes, sometimes longer if your skin tends to have more moles. In most cases the doctor will use a hand-held dermatoscope, which looks like a flashlight, to magnify and illuminate the layers of your skin.  This will allow them to get a closer look at your skin.

The doctor may start with your scalp, carefully moving your hair around to gain a closer look. Believe it or not, “hidden melanomas” are often found in unexpected areas like the scalp, behind the ears, soles of the feet, under nails, palms of the hands and the groin area.  For this reason, you should expect the dermatologist to inspect every inch of your body, which will include beneath your underwear if you were permitted to leave any on under your gown.  A medical assistant may join the dermatologist during your exam to help ensure everything is properly documented in your medical record.  Photographs may be taken and securely stored in your medical chart to use as a comparative at future visits. This is a good time to ask about any spots you are worried about; your dermatologist can educate you about what to look for, such as any changes in the size, color, borders, or shape of a mole.

Your dermatologist may identify an area that requires treatment and will generally take care any minor procedure right after completing your skin exam.  The two most common treatments are:

Cryotherapy– A quick spray of liquid nitrogen which is used to freeze and destroy skin growths or patches that do not look like the skin around them. Ask your doctor for their post-treatment recommendations and follow up protocol.

Skin biopsy-  A sample of skin will be removed and sent to a laboratory for further examination under a microscope, to diagnose or rule out any diseases of the skin.  There are a few ways to perform a biopsy and some may require stitches. Ask your doctor why a biopsy is being done and which procedure they will be using.  Be sure to understand any post-procedure recommendations and follow up expectations.  You should also inquire when and how your biopsy results will be provided to you. Results are typically available within 7-10 days.

Before your doctor leaves the room, ask them what your follow up schedule is based on their discoveries during your exam.  Your doctor may talk to you about your skin cancer risk factors which are derived from your lifestyle, personal history and the results of your exam.  Understand your follow up recommendations and instructions before your dermatologist leaves the room.  Depending on your results, your doctor may recommend more frequent exams.  At a minimum, you should schedule your next annual skin check prior to leaving the doctor’s office and ask them to mail you a reminder card.  Make your annual skin check a priority because early detection is a key factor when it comes to skin.

Dr. Cynthia Bailey of Advanced Skin Care and Dermatology Physicians, has provided information on what to expect during your skin check. This helpful advice will guide you through your appointment and make you feel empowered when you get to your next skin check visit. 

Previous Post
October 18, 2017
Next Post
October 18, 2017


  • Deb Pearl

    I’m glad you mentioned that a full body skin exam will take approximately 10 minutes or sometimes longer. I have a mole that looks kind of odd and I wanted to try to get an appointment. I’m glad that the appointment won’t take too long and I can ask them about any moles I have.

  • Alexandria Martinez

    A good friend of mine wants to be prepared for a dermatologist appointment she is thinking of making. She has never been before, so she needs some good tips. I will let her know to ask her doctor about follow up schedules based on what they find.

  • Michael Lee

    I never would have thought that melanomas would be found in places like under nails. Next week, I am going to visit the dermatologist for a skin check up. I have a couple of large moles need to get checked up on and I have never done this before.

  • Amy Winters

    Thanks for pointing out that skin checks are important because skin cancers are easier to treat the earlier they are found. I have a friend from my church group who recently found out she has skin cancer, so I’ve been doing some research online about it. I didn’t know that regular skin checks were so important to successful treatment, so I’m glad you shared that info here!

  • Derek McDoogle

    I like how you mentioned that a skin biopsy is a sample of skin that will be removed and sent to a laboratory for further examination under a microscope, to diagnose or rule out any diseases of the skin. My uncle has a few skin marks since he used to work outdoors for many years. I will suggest to him to visit a dermatologist so he can get a skin biopsy and make sure he does not have any diseases.

  • Zoe Campos

    It’s reassuring to know that dermatologists undergo special training that helps them diagnose and manage skin cancers and diseases effectively. I’m really busy with my kids right now, but I’m getting worried about the red spots that kept on appearing on my back. It might be more convenient on my part if there are clinics that offer appointments for virtual consultations.

  • kamran hussain

    Thanks for pointing the significant thing and I think we should know about our diseases (dermatological problem) before going to the doctor it helps us. Thanks for this helpful information

  • Mohs Tek

    Great Blog! Thanks for sharing this type of valuable information.

  • Sabine Zenker MD Dermatologist

    Thank you for posting your blog on skin disease in humans. Please keep posting good information with all of us.

  • dermatologically tested makeup

    This post was very well written, and it also contains a lot of useful facts. I enjoyed your distinguished way of writing the post. Thanks, you have made it easy for me to understand.

  • Genesis Dermatology

    Such a great article i have read… this is a amazing blog… thank you for sharing this blog with us..

  • vigornow

    I am glad to be a visitant of this double dyed web blog, thanks for this
    rare information!

  • Chester

    Attractive portion of content. I simply stumbled upon your
    web site and in accession capital to assert that I acquire actually enjoyed account your
    blog posts. Anyway I will be subscribing
    to your augment or even I success you get admission to persistently quickly.

  • John Carston

    I’m glad that you talked about the importance of having an examination to identify if you are qualified. My sister mentioned to me last night that she is hoping to prevent the continuation of her wrinkles and asked if I have any idea what is the best treatment to do. Thanks to this informative article and I’ll be sure to tell her that she can consult a trusted dermatologist for a botox.

Leave a Reply

Related Posts

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons