Monday, February 8, 2010

When Your Dermatologist is a Perfectionist

There is nothing scarier than a dermatologist who thinks the skin on your face should look like a baby’s ass – and to my dermatologist, it’s not a goal; it’s a requirement. As in, I’m thinking I look pretty damn good, and then she walks in the room and tells me I look like hell. Ouch.

I don’t take it personally. I mean, I’m pretty sure the woman lacks basic social skills – but what she doesn’t lack is skin that looks like freaking silk! Not fair! But beauty is pain, and topical medications are a pain in the ass. I’d almost forgotten. But now that I am back on the crack so to speak, I will illustrate the stages of my love-hate relationship with dermatology.

Stage 1: You Ugly

If you go to my dermatologist, this is the stage where you make an appointment for something else entirely (aka, my eyelids have the space plague), and she walks in and tells you that it looks like your face hates you. I’m not even talking about acne here; I’m talking about things “not being as smooth as they should.” Like, Brittany, why aren’t you slathering Retin-A all over your face? You would look so much better! And you’re thinking, wait, this isn’t why I made this appointment – shit, did she just write me up $200 worth of prescriptions?

Well, in a moment of weakness, I decided that I, too, wanted the epidermis of a movie star. So I filled all those crazy prescriptions and got started.

Stage 2: The Honeymoon

The first day or two of your new skin regiment fools you into thinking that you will be instantly transformed into awesome. Everything feels smoother, healthier, tighter – mostly because the Retin-A hasn’t begun to eat your face yet; it’s just getting started. Those feelings of health are just the result of your brain’s trickery (i.e., “third degree burns prevent acne; doesn’t mean you should light your head on fire” will soon be your new motto, eagerly repeated to potential dermatology patients).

Stage 3: You Snake!

After the honeymoon ends, you find that your new topical medication is turning you into a reptile. Your face is literally peeling; not in huge layers, either. No – that would be too easy. Instead, your face is peeling in tiny little increments, and if you rub or peel them, they spread! It’s a never ending cycle of snake-face! You comfort yourself with the thought that once all this dead skin is gone, you will have new, fresh, happy skin. But how long will that take?!

Stage 4: A Burning Sensation

This is my favorite stage. The stage where you discover what true sensitivity is. Yes, the unique feeling of spreading Cetaphil moisturizer on your face – and discovering that it is, actually, napalm. Your face is on fire and nothing can put it out – even water hurts! You don’t even want to know what foundation feels like. You want to cry. And wear a bag over your red head. You no longer care if you look like perfection when this suffering is over; you liked your old face! It was fine! Damn this culture – why do we worship unattainable perfection?!!

Stage 5: Oh Snap

You look in the mirror one day and realize that you look amazing. Your skin is glowing; not a spot in sight. Suddenly the suffering and temporary hideousness was all worth it! You’re a fucking movie star! Now all you need is thousands of dollars worth of dental work and you’ll have the teeth to match!

Stage 6: The Laziness

You’ve been looking awesome for awhile, and now you’re convinced that it has always been this way. Why do you have to buy more of this medication? It’s freaking expensive, and you’re all glorious – you don’t need it!

Stage 7: The Decline into Normalcy

Whoops. A spot. Where did that come from? I guess it’s time for a trip to the dermatologist…


I’m somewhere between stages 3 and 4 right now. For no particular reason, really. Despite the unnecessary suffering, my dermatology appointment did lead to one good thing: my eyelids are cured! Apparently, I had dermatitis (code for, we don’t know what the fuck is wrong with you; your eyelids are just whack).

All’s well that ends well, I guess.

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