As a physician, I research, discuss and treat acne scars every day, but for a first-time patient, I understand why the thought of seeking that initial consultation may be uncomfortable or frightening. By equipping yourself with background on what to ask and what you can expect during your first appointment, you can put your mind at ease, resulting in a more productive consultation and a more efficient path to your final treatment. Based on my 20 years of experience, I’ve outlined a few tips to help you prepare for that first appointment:
It’s all About You!
Don’t be afraid. Your doctor will not think you are silly, a complainer or vain by asking for treatment for acne scars. Doctors see patients all the time for scars of various types, and there is no reason a doctor would not want to try and help you with your scars if treatment is possible.
Help the doctor help you—in order to identify the treatment that best suits your needs, your physician will ask you a series of questions about your acne and acne scars. Be prepared to discuss any past or present attempts to treat your acne or acne scars, share how long you dealt with acne, provide background on your overall health and speak to your ultimate goals for your skin and appearance.
Acne first, scars later
Many times, patients come to me with concerns about acne scars while they still have active acne. It is imperative to get the acne under control first, before treating the scars. Be prepared to have the doctor ask about your acne and recommend treatment for it before moving on to treating the scars. Do not be discouraged, you may feel like you have tried everything but there are many effective treatments for acne.
Like I said, it’s all about you, so take advantage of this opportunity to ask all of the questions and voice all of your concerns, comments or fears you might have. Come prepared with your own list of questions that address your most prominent worries. A few of the questions I’m most frequently asked include:
- Does the recommended solution involve multiple appointments and/or treatments?
- Will it hurt?
- Will I look strange right after the treatments?
- How long after treatment can I expect to see results?
- Some of scars are darker than the rest of my skin, will the treatment help even out the pigment?
- How much will it cost?
In addition to discussing your scars, you should plan to undergo a careful examination. To best treat your acne scars, your doctor will need to closely assess the extent of the scarring and what types of scars you have. Although the thought of the physical evaluation may make you a little uncomfortable, it’s important that your doctor is able to do a thorough examination to determine the best course of treatment—remember that your practitioner wants the best for you too! Doctors love pictures so be prepared to have pictures taken of your scars. Your doctor will not share the pictures with anyone except the office staff without your permission so don’t worry that others will see the pictures. Read the paperwork carefully, your doctor may ASK you for permission to show the pictures at scientific meetings. You don’t have to give your permission if you do not want to.
Hopefully these tips help you prepare for the first, most important, step to treating your acne scars. Know that with the help of your doctor and a commitment to your own goals, you can move on with your life scar free and full of confidence! I look forward to reading your comments.
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