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Aesthetic nurses go by many names. You may see them referred to as cosmetic nurses or even nurse injectors. While there may be small differences in the names, the core of what they do in their daily work remains the same—helping patients look and feel their best via cosmetic procedures.
While this niche line of nursing work is certainly a departure from the life-and-death stakes of working in a critical care nursing role, it still depends on skilled and safety-conscious nursing professionals. At face value, it’s an alluring field for some, but there’s a lot to know about aesthetic nursing before you dive in, as it is a fairly significant departure from what you’ll find with most nursing roles.
We’re here to provide expert insight into the role of an aesthetic nurse and what it takes to become one.
What does an aesthetic nurse do?
Aesthetic nurses consult with patients and perform examinations regarding elective procedures. During these consultations, they help patients determine what body changes they would like and suggest options for procedures that can help them reach these goals. There are many procedures aesthetic nurses perform. Some of the most common aesthetic elective procedures include:
- Injectables: Injectables can have a wide range of effects. Neuromodulators (like Botox®) treat fine lines and wrinkles by relaxing the underlying muscle. Dermal fillers, like Juvéderm® and Restylane®, can reduce wrinkles by adding volume to areas like the lips or sagging areas like the hollow of the cheeks or under the eyes.
- Laser and light treatments: Lasers can treat small imperfections like wrinkles, scars and warts. Others use heat to promote collagen production. Lasers are also used for tattoo removal, unwanted hair, spider veins or redness.
- Non-invasive body contouring: There are several ways to remove excess fat from the body. Low-level laser therapy uses cold laser therapy to target and break down adipose cells. Clinicians can also use ultrasound therapy to direct sound waves toward adipose cells and disrupt them or use radiofrequency therapy to destroy adipose cells through heat. Recontouring can also be done through dermal fillers in some areas.
- Skin treatments: These are used to improve the overall appearance and health of the skin. Treatments include chemical peels, dermaplaning, microdermabrasion and microneedling.
Not all aesthetic nurses perform all of these treatments. It depends on the clinic and their capabilities. Aesthetic nurses can work in private practices, hospitals, dermatology offices and medical spas.
Many nurses new to aesthetics start with skin treatments, body contouring and laser/light procedures before getting trained in administering injectables, which takes an advanced knowledge of anatomy and the nuances of working with different injectables.
In addition to performing these procedures, aesthetic nurses also do a lot of education to help patients manage their expectations and care for themselves pre- and post-treatment.
Plastic surgery vs. aesthetic nurse
When examining the work of an aesthetic nurse, it’s important to make a distinction between these nurses and the nurses who work in elective plastic surgery centers. Both roles ultimately strive to help their patients feel at ease in their own skin, but there are significant differences. The easiest way to see this distinction is in the services the different specialties provide.
Aesthetic clinics focus on non-surgical solutions and other in-office treatments to enhance the patient’s appearance.
Plastic surgery nurses specialize in caring for patients who undergo cosmetic surgical procedures like liposuctions, breast augmentation/reductions, face and neck lifts, hair transplants or gender reassignment procedures. This means that a lot of their work is centered around procedures, which include pre- and post-op care. They may also function as the circulating nurse in the operating room.
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