When it comes to your skin, all the cute, effective products in the world can’t quite beat the personalised advice of a trusted medical professional. That’s why I recently took a trip to the dermatologist to (finally) chat about my acne.
(Fun fact: Dermatologists are also experts in hair and nail disorders. Who knew?!)
The process, for me, was finding a dermatology clinic I liked the look of here in Sydney. I then completed an online intake form, and obtained a referral from my GP prior to my appointment.
Here’s how it went.
Upon arrival, I was greeted by the friendly reception staff who directed me to a private bathroom to remove any makeup and give my face a good cleanse before seeing the doctor. (The bathroom was stocked with product, but I packed my own just in case.)
Bare-faced and slightly jittery, it was time for me to meet my dermatologist - the considerate and knowledgeable Dr Gloria Fong.
We took a seat in Dr Fong’s office and I recapped my overall health – any medical conditions, allergies, and/or medications I’m currently taking. Whilst I’d already included this in my intake form, it was super helpful to chat about it in more detail, especially around my recent diagnosis of endometriosis.
We talked about my skin journey, and how I’ve been dealing with hormonal acne pretty consistently since I was 12. I described how my acne really increased around 18 months ago, and the steps I’ve been taking with my GP to treat this (a course of antibiotics and a topical cream), which have been relatively successful. This was all noted down in my spiffy new patient file.
Goals and Assessment
Dr Fong then asked me what I’m looking to achieve with my skin, and I shared my goals: to manage my acne and reduce post-inflammatory scarring.
I was able to show her some ‘before’ pictures of what my face looked like a year ago (lots of active breakouts) compared to now (less breakouts, more scarring/pigmentation).
She inspected my skin and diagnosed me with ‘mild acne’ (a huge win for past-me), congratulating me on how I’d treated my skin over the past year alongside my GP.
Dr Fong assessed that my scarring isn’t severe enough to need procedural intervention (like dermabrasion or chemical peels), and could instead be managed with topical creams. However, she still passed on information about further cosmetic procedures, should I be interested down the track.
We then covered my current skincare routine, and I was awarded brownie points for daily SPF usage (essential) and encouraged to opt for an oil-free lightweight moisturiser and cleansing ingredients like salicylic acid where possible.
Dr Fong also briefly touched on the holistic aspects of skincare, and how factors like water intake, sugar and dairy consumption, and even our mental health can impact our skin.
After this, she provided me with an ongoing prescription for tretinoin (vitamin a) to help with skin renewal (great for scarring and anti-ageing) as well as a targeted antibiotic cream for spot treatment of any active acne.
Dr Fong ended our time together with a firm but warm reminder that “acne does not mean you are dirty” – something my younger self needed to hear.
I’ve been lucky enough to have the support of a fantastic GP for a few years now (as well as the overflowing skincare expertise of my colleagues at Go-To), but I still found it incredibly valuable to have a dermatologist review my skin health and provide me with 30 minutes of in-depth, specialised advice.For anyone thinking that a dermatology appointment might be of value to their skincare journey, I have to let you know it is not a small expense. My session with Dr Fong came in at $280 (but I did receive an $80 rebate via Medicare here in Aus). It is worth it for the way I felt walking out that office, armed with gratitude, a couple of prescriptions, and a whole lotta knowledge about how to care for my skin moving forward.