Should I go see Dr. Zizmor, the most heavily advertised dermatologist in NYC?
June 20, 2007 11:18 AM   Subscribe

I still have periodic acne breakouts at the age of 24, and now that I have health insurance I want to see a dermatologist. However, there's a million of them in NYC, and I don't have the time to shop around, so I'm considering going with NYC's most heavily advertised doctor, Dr. Zizmor. Is this a bad idea? Have you or anyone you know ever said, "Thanks, Dr. Zizmor?"

(The last line, of course, is a reference to the Dr. Z ad spots that I grew up watching on Long Island during summer reruns of Perfect Strangers and Who's The Boss.)

The reason I'm cautious about picking someone out of the phone book is that, in high school, I had a dermatologist who prescribed me Accutane, an extremely powerful medication that wasn't justified in my case. (It worked, but the next doctor I had was shocked that she had given it to me.) All I want is professionalism and results.

I figure that if Zizmor has been around that long and has had so many patience, that he must be able to successfully treat a simple problem like mine. He was fined a few years ago for not performing adequate histories on some of his patients, but that might not be out of the ordinary for one of NYC's most visible doctors (in the same way that every trendy NYC restaurant has had a bad health report, etc.)

Is this a bad line of reasoning, or is Zizmor worth going to? Alternatively, if anyone can recommend a good dermatologist in NYC, I'd love to hear it.
posted by tweebiscuit to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
The other line of reasoning is that someone who spends that much money on advertising spends less money on helping you, or charges more than someone who doesn't advertise so heavily.
posted by smackfu at 11:23 AM on June 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

For something so minor, I wouldn't lose too much sleep over who to go to. They're probably going to prescribe Benzaclin, and it'll cost a trillion dollars out of pocket (I seem to recall mine was $100 for 3 month supply- for me, the visit was covered, but the prescription was not) and it'll work, and that's that.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:26 AM on June 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

I didn't get my "grownup skin" until I was 25 or so, when I thought I'd be basically breaking out for life. So hang in there.

I went to a dermatologist recently at Beth Israel who took my insurance. He was alright, everything went fine. I'm not sure what to expect in NYC beyond "alright" but if you want the referral I'd be happy to give you the information.
posted by hermitosis at 11:30 AM on June 20, 2007

Personally, I would never see a professional who advertises in the subway, but that's just me, I guess.

Since you have insurance, why not get your primary care physician to give you a referral?
posted by dersins at 11:32 AM on June 20, 2007

Best answer: Here is my biased opinion:
I think going to Dr. Zizmor is a bad idea. I find doctors who advertise on the subway questionable. Even if they're competent, they can often be bigtime insurance frauds, finding ways to bill for all manner of unnecessary things.

Here is my slightly less biased opinion:
Sometimes, going to the dermatologist for a strictly cosmetic reason--which includes acne--isn't even covered by insurance (though I'm sure Dr. Z has long ago figured out a way around that). If you're going to have to pay for it out of pocket, why not try to find a doctor whose office isn't an assembly line?

I really love my dermatologist. Love. Email me if you want.
posted by veronica sawyer at 11:45 AM on June 20, 2007

Don't go to Dr. Zizmor. Go to your doctor and ask them to recommend a dermatologist.
posted by milarepa at 11:45 AM on June 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have been using this for the past 2 years now, works every time. 2.5% benzoyl peroxide
posted by rocfob at 11:56 AM on June 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

A great doctor's advertisement is his patients. My dermatologist can only take appointments a month in advance because he's so booked (with a little card at the front desk thanking everyone for their referrals). That said, get a referral from someone.
posted by pinksoftsoap at 12:01 PM on June 20, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks guys! I'll e-mail those of you who offered referrals, thanks! I would ask for a recommendation from my PCP if I had one -- I've gone to a few general practicitioners for Rx refills, but none of them were ones I particularly wanted to go to again.
posted by tweebiscuit at 12:17 PM on June 20, 2007

As a lifelong acne sufferer, I just wanted to suggest something you may not have tried. Even dermatologists couldn't help my acne (though I was never prescribed accutane - no doctor would touch it). Then a chance visit to a clinc in for an unrelated health incident led to the doctor asking what I was taking for my acne. I said, "Nothing. Nothing works." And he prescribed stievamycin gel. Three months later my lifelong problem had disappeared and has never returned. After passing on this info to several people, they have had similarly spectacular results.
posted by meerkatty at 1:02 PM on June 20, 2007 [3 favorites]

Acne is sometimes related to zinc deficiency. There's a book by James Balch called 'Prescription for Nutritional Healing' that has more information about this.

You can find out if you have a deficiency by getting a product at the health food store called Zinc Tally. It has directions on the bottle of how to use it. If you are deficient then you can try supplementing your diet with zinc. Not too much though. This isn't a case of 'if a little is more a lot must be better.' Use the dosage guideline in the book.

Also fyi take zinc on a full stomach. Otherwise you might get nauseated.

IANAD and IANANutritionist
posted by Soda-Da at 1:07 PM on June 20, 2007

Best answer: I live in Brooklyn, and love my dermatologist. Feel free to contact me, too.
posted by jennyjenny at 1:55 PM on June 20, 2007

jennyjenny i could use a derm referral, and i live in brooklyn. But your profile doesn't have your email.
posted by alkupe at 2:35 PM on June 20, 2007

I second rocfob on the 2.5% BP gel.

Otherwise, you can talk to your general practictioner - clindamycin cream can also be effective but more expensive than the 2.5% BP from

I'm turning 29 shortly (male) and still have breakouts (which is much less severe, less frequent, and lasts less long after going on the 2.5% BP morning and night). My coworkers (female) in their 30s still get breakouts every so often. My mother had breakouts into her 40s.

Staying hydrated, avoiding stress, and getting enough sleep go long ways in preventing breakouts. When I drink heavily, I'm more prone to breakouts. When I stopped smoking for 3 months my breakouts were much less frequent. Air quality may make a difference, too.

If you start taking zinc supplements, it may increase your horniness libido and in males, may increase the volume of your ejaculations.
posted by porpoise at 3:25 PM on June 20, 2007

Don't go to a celebrity who will give you, at best, normal-doctor advice.

2.5% benzoyl peroxide twice a day, low doses of zinc, chromium, and niacinamide every other day or once a day. give it 3 weeks and see what happens. then go see a regular dermatologist if you aren't happy. ask for Duac, not Benzaclin, it's a much better formulation for your skin.
posted by rxrfrx at 6:09 PM on June 20, 2007

I second rxrfrx, I've tried a variety of acne medicines and none were even even close to as good as the plan that is at, which is essentially 2.5% benzoyl peroxide and then moisturizing (I'd suggest something with alpha hydroxy), after using it for a year, my acne is almost entirely gone and now I just use the moisturizer everyday and use the benzoyl peroxide when I start to break out. I would give it a shot for a month before going to a dr.
posted by whoaali at 6:59 PM on June 20, 2007

he got a 3-yr suspension of his licence in May 2004. A friend of mine, who had terrible acne, went to see him a few years ago (but, now that I think about it, since he had his license suspended) and thought he was very nice. He sold her facewash and prescribed antibiotics. Her face did, in fact, clear up. But I would avoid him.
posted by chelseagirl at 8:56 PM on June 20, 2007

I know of one person that went to Dr. Zizmor approximately 15 years ago for severe acne. Her face did clear up.
posted by Julnyes at 9:08 PM on June 20, 2007

Just to toss in my 2cents re: acne treatment, rather than Dr. Ziz:

I, too, had really bad acne all throughout my teens and early 20s, and I also went on Accutane (twice!). It worked at the time, but the results only lasted for about 6 months after I was on it (sooooo not worth the pain of the previous 5 months taking the drug!). I tried pretty much everything a dermatologist would recommend and still ended up without results. Finally, two years ago, I caved and went to my ob-gyn to get put on the pill - and *bam* - acne gone.

The moral of the story: dermatologists treat the surface of your skin. Every dermatologist I saw was trying to fix my skin, without ever considering that the problems in my skin were originating in another part of my body. Acne has many causes - hormonal, in my case, sometimes it's bacteria, sometimes improper amounts of sebum, etc etc. If it's truly your skin that is causing the problem, then a dermatologist will be able to help you - but if your acne is actually a *symptom* of an imbalance elsewhere in your body/diet/lifestyle, etc, a dermatologist will just cost you money, time, and discomfort. It's best to go to a general practitioner first to discuss all of the possible causes of your acne - they can either try to fix it with you, or refer you to the proper specialist, be that a nutritionist, gynecologist, endocrinologist, or dermatologist. But go to the root first, before you try the branches.

I could've had my acne taken care of at 15, not 25.... aaaaaaargh.

Good luck!
posted by AthenaPolias at 9:57 AM on June 21, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks guys -- these answers are all amazing! I'm going to try out the 2.5% BP, then ask one of you nice folks for a referral to a doctor if that doesn't work. Thanks!
posted by tweebiscuit at 1:50 PM on June 22, 2007

Nothing to add, just that I'm seriously bookmarking this for my own personal gain. Thanks tweebiscuit!
posted by Green With You at 8:21 PM on June 22, 2007

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