How to Become a Medical Aesthetician

Written by Terri A. Wojak, L.E.

The term medical aesthetician is not recognized by regulating boards, since there is no separate or advanced licensure to become a medical aesthetician. When discussing, medical aesthetician simply refers to an aesthetician working in a medical setting.

There are several roles an aesthetician can have in a medical setting, depending on the practice needs and individual state regulations. Performing facial treatments and recommending skin care products is usually at the top of the list. Many practices will also have the aesthetician assist with medical procedures, cleanse the skin prior, and apply the appropriate post-care following procedures. Aestheticians also play an important role in retention since skin care services are typically done on a monthly basis.
In some states, aestheticians can perform more advanced treatments including lasers, radio frequency, and microneedling. This gives a great advantage to the physician to be able to have subproviders perform the treatments for them. In other states, a physician may delegate a medical service to anyone after doing the initial consultation. This can be confusing because certain state regulatory boards prohibit the practice of medical procedures by an aesthetician. If this is the case, the aesthetician cannot hold themselves as an aesthetician while performing these treatments, for legal reasons or state regulations; instead, they would then be considered an assistant to the physician.

GET EDUCATED
Taking extra training courses that offer certifications, especially for medical and advanced aesthetics in general, will help expand overall repertoire. Although aestheticians cannot perform certain medical procedures, it is important to be knowledgeable of them to know how to treat the skin safely surrounding them. For instance, in most, if not all, states, injectables, including neurotoxins and facial fillers, can never be performed by an aesthetician, but, when working in a practice that offers them, it is necessary to be able to talk to clients about these procedures with confidence. Performing facials and other non-invasive treatments around these procedures can be counter-productive if not properly considered or administered. However, when timed correctly, they greatly enhance final outcomes. Knowing the details about medical procedures will give an advantage over others that have not been trained.
In some states, laser treatments can be performed by aestheticians. Like injectables, even if the professional will not be performing laser treatments, having a good understanding of them will help. Lasers are a popular skin rejuvenation technique and one must be careful to treat the skin appropriately before and after these procedures. There are also specific treatments, including dermaplaning and chemical peels, that, when spaced appropriately, can enhance the results of laser treatments. Other medical services to be knowledgeable in include skin tightening treatments, like radio frequency, ultrasound, body contouring, and microneedling.
Aesthetic treatments commonly performed in a medical setting differ from those at a salon or day spa. Chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and hydradermabrasion are the most commonly performed aesthetic treatments when working in cosmetic medicine. Dermaplaning is also a frequently requested treatment in medical settings. These treatments should be mastered to work in cosmetic medicine.
There are also medical compliance lessons that must be learned to work safely and effectively. OSHA and HIPAA regulations are absolutely necessary in the medical setting and required by all medical professionals as well as non-medical licensed or laid personnel. OSHA stands for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. This is a regulatory board that helps to ensure a safe workplace for employees. When working in a medical office, there are higher risks involved that one needs to be aware of. OSHA was put in place for professionals’ safety, as well as the client’s safety. One example of such risks is an accidental needle stick. This could create cause for alarm if someone else was injected with the needle first – there is a risk of transmitting bloodborne pathogens that could cause disease. OSHA training is required and should be updated on a yearly basis. HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, is strictly enforced in medical offices, as well. HIPAA was created to protect patients’ private health information and is taken very seriously. This means that all patient information must be kept private and secure. Something as simple as leaving a message about an upcoming appointment or addressing a patient outside the office can lead to significant fines. OSHA and HIPAA regulations should be taught on the job, but it is always an advantage to know them when applying.
If looking to work for a plastic surgeon, professionals should know pre- and post-operative procedures. A general understanding is typically sufficient, as each practice will likely have their own protocols. Protocols may include preparing the skin for surgery with facial treatments and topical products, followed by manual lymphatic drainage massage or ultrasound post-operatively. Lymphatic massage and ultrasound both help to reduce swelling and downtime. Manual lymphatic drainage training and certification, whether implemented or not, is always appreciated. It tells the surgeon there is an understanding of wound healing and how the body heals itself. Another role of the aesthetician is to apply and teach camouflage makeup; following surgery or even injectables, patients could experience some bruising and may want to get back to their daily activities without others knowing that they had something done.
Internship programs are another great way to learn the ins and outs of a medical office with first-hand experience. Offering free time to local dermatologists, plastic surgeons, or medical spas is not only a learning experience, but can also help to get a foot in the door for a position. This is a chance to prove yourself, show work ethic by working hard and acting professionally, and demonstrate what you can do for the practice throughout the day by bringing patients back, preparing them for treatment, and recommending products for homecare. Another bonus of interning is that it could be a great networking opportunity; if that practice is not hiring, they may know of one that is. Your internship time may not be in-line with the practice’s hire needs, but they always remember who stood out and, depending on the practice, will sometimes make exceptions.
To take it a step further, get an additional degree in the medical field. This one is a bit more of a commitment, but many offices will hire someone with an aesthetics license and a medical degree since it gives the best of both worlds. Often a practice will lean toward the individual who has the most diverse training background regardless of experience. Registered nursing degrees start at associates in applied science and take roughly three years of schooling. This could significantly advance opportunities. This could also enable a professional to do more advanced treatments like botox and dermal fillers, if allowed in their state.

GET NOTICED
Creating a brand for yourself helps put your name on the map. This is something that could be done even if already working at a dream job. The company you want to work for could have clients that already know about you from social media and by word of mouth. Starting an aesthetics blog page or website can help you get noticed faster. As long as the postings are accurate and relevant, adding this piece to a portfolio will impress many companies.
Utilize resources including social media. Keeping a constant post flow on social media can help you get noticed by fellow aestheticians and potential employers. Take before and after photos of clients to post, but make sure to get their consent first. Hashtag anything relevant to the post and tag brands used, or even places, that can notice the posts. With the increasing demand to be on social media, offices will likely recognize those that are more active and want them on their teams. Marketing is a huge part of the job as an aesthetician, regardless of where one is working.
There are many educational forums that are useful resources to gain more knowledge of the industry, including medical aesthetics. These can either be online or in-person groups of industry professionals who gather to chat about relevant aesthetic topics, ask and answer questions, and give advice and suggestions. Joining a forum can give the advantage of having everyone’s
knowledge in one safe place to utilize. Look for forums and groups on Facebook and LinkedIn that focus on aesthetics in the medical field and be sure to follow posts on cosmetic medicine, as well.
Networking is one of the most overlooked avenues through which solid employment opportunities present themselves. Going to local events, such as tradeshows, training classes, and seminars, can help with networking with fellow industry professionals, brand representatives, and even company owners. These events also host educational presentations to help master a skillset and receive continuing education units. Always act professionally, including dressing the part. Be personable and open to everyone when networking; you never know who you are talking to.

GET IN THE DOOR
When seeking a position as a medical aesthetician, it is essential to have a professional resume – in most cases, it will be the first impression to a potential employer. It must be a true representation of your abilities, but also should be direct and to the point. Misspellings, poor organization, or bad punctuation can all give the impression that your are careless. If you are careless with a one to two-page document, how will that carry on to other duties? This is especially true when seeking a position in a medical office – documentation cannot be taken lightly. The look of the resume should be clean, concise, and consistent. A professional summary stating skills and what you can bring to the table should be on top. Use words that pertain to the position you are seeking. When looking for a job in the medical field, highlight medical education or experience.
If a resume makes the right impression, the interview is the next step. First, dress the part. Regardless of the position a professional is applying for, a clean, ironed suit with hair and makeup conservatively done is a good option. Before the interview, be sure to have a solid grasp of what your personal strengths are and why you would be an asset to the practice you are applying to. The person conducting the interview will likely ask a multitude of questions including employment history, current understanding of the company, and how you see yourself as an asset there. This means you should do homework; learn about the doctor, their specialty, years in business, and professional associations. It is also important to research the services and products offered to gain as much understanding on them as you can before the interview. Show passion for the industry and explain why you want to work as an aesthetician in the medical field.
Performing case studies is a good way to try advanced procedures on willing participants. This will show an employer you can properly follow protocol and achieve desired results. The case studies can be used to create a portfolio to have on-hand for interviews. This is a great way to showcase qualifications and work in person. This would include a copy of your license, certificates, badges, or medals, client before and after photos, and branding or marketing materials.
Be willing to work your way up. Starting as a receptionist or assistant is common in medical offices for aestheticians. Be prepared for at least a few months of training while working a non-aesthetic position in order to become a regular medical aesthetician. This is also a great way to be introduced to potential clients for when you are ready and trained. Take this time to shadow aestheticians and medical providers. This is one of the best ways to learn what a patient experiences first-hand.

Finding the right job can be a job in itself; be persistent. The first step is to advance one’s education – most undergraduate aesthetic schools do not teach advanced procedures. When seeking education, look at the company’s reputation. Ask for testimonials or talk to past students about their experience. The next step is to get noticed; make a name for yourself by being visible to others in the industry. Be creative and utilize resources including social media. Finally, get yourself in the door with a great resume, portfolio, and interview skills.

Terri Wojak 2019Terri Wojak is a highly sought-after professional with over 20 years of experience in the aesthetic industry. Along with Steven H. Dayan, MD FACS, Wojak developed True U Education, a corporation focused on providing advanced education for professionals in the aesthetic industry. She is a respected authority on skin care in a medical setting, education, and business development on multiple levels. She has published two books, number one on Amazon best-seller in skin care “Aesthetics Exposed: Mastering Skin Care in a Medical Setting & Beyond,” in May 2014, and “Mastering Medical Esthetics,” debuted in 2009.

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