We’ve all heard that “Beauty is only skin deep.” The truth is that feeling confident about your outward appearance can build deep inner confidence that not only can change the way the world sees you, but also how you see the world.

Q: What is the difference between cosmetic and general dermatology?

A: While medical dermatology and surgery focuses on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of skin disease, cosmetic dermatology focuses on shaping the appearance of the skin. Many people want to alter the effects of aging, such as the wrinkles and age spots.

Q: I have bought (and returned) so many products to moisturize and reduce wrinkles on my face, especially around my eyes. I don’t see any difference at all. Can you recommend something that really makes a difference?

A: If your lines are deeper or related to smiling or squinting, you might be a candidate for Botox treatments. Most importantly, use a sunscreen daily to prevent the lines you have from getting deeper. Retin-A can be an effective cream to improve frown lines around the eyes. You will need to see a dermatologist to get a prescription for this.

Non-prescription creams might be good moisturizers, but they aren’t as effective in reducing fine lines.

Q: Why should I choose a dermatologist over a spa for cosmetic treatments?

A: The number of cosmetic procedures performed in spas has risen dramatically in the past several years. Unfortunately, patients might be forgoing safety for convenience and price. The American Academy of Dermatology urges patients to select a board-certified physician for cosmetic procedures.

Q: Which treatments are considered to be cosmetic?

A: There are many options for cosmetic treatment. Your dermatologist will recommend which treatment is best suited for you – among them are Sculptra, chemical peels, Restylane, Juvederm, Fraxel, microdermabrasion, Radiesse and Botox.

Q: How do I know which filler I should use?

A: We seem to have the “filler du jour” in medicine these days. Promotional interviews on daytime talk shows or in the news are supposed to “educate” you about what is newest but not necessarily what is best. Only your dermatologist can help you make the right decision.

Q: Can a dermatologist remove tattoos?

A: Yes, most tattoos, especially black ones, can be removed by laser. Multiple treatments are typically needed and depend on the type and amount of tattoo pigment in your skin. While occasionally some tattoos can be removed in two treatments, most might require more treatments. Surgically removing them is sometimes an option.

Q: What results can I expect from cosmetic treatments?

A: Having realistic expectations contributes to a positive outcome. With any cosmetic treatment, the results achieved largely depend not only on the type of procedure, but also on a patient’s health status, age and healing capacity.

Q: What are the risks?

A: The risks involved in most cosmetic procedures are minimal.

Cosmetic dermatology can make your skin look more youthful. When considering cosmetic treatment, your dermatologist will evaluate your skin and together you can discuss the best option for you.

Dr. Oswald Lightsey Mikell, certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, is the owner of Dermatology Associates of the Lowcountry.