Have an appointment with a dermatologist? Here’s what to expect:
Before You Arrive
- Gather your family history, and make it a point to note any family history of skin cancer.
- Remove all makeup and lipstick, so the doctor has a clear view of your face for suspicious moles or pre-cancerous lesions.
- Remove nail polish on fingers and toes, so the doctor can examine any possible growths underneath your nails.
- Wash your hair so it is free of hair products and buildup. Many skin cancers, even melanomas, are found on hair parts or where hair has thinned.
- A complete skin exam requires you to undress completely since skin cancers can grow anywhere on the body. You will be given a gown to cover up while waiting.
- You will be systematically examined from head to toe. If nothing on your skin proves worrisome, you can schedule your exam for the following year. But if any lesions are a concern, the dermatologist will perform a biopsy.
- For a skin biopsy, you will be given a local anesthetic (an injection) to numb the area. Then the doctor will remove a piece of tissue and have it processed. If your diagnosis is a skin cancer, your doctor will discuss your treatment options.
- The American Academy of Dermatology recommends annual skin exams.
- If you have a family history of skin cancer, or have a history of sunbathing and/or using tanning salons, more frequent visits may be recommended by your doctor.