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Physicians and Estheticians: A Rewarding Partnership

By: Carl Thornfeldt, MD, FAAD
Posted: January 28, 2011, from the February 2011 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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If the patient’s plan includes surgery or laser resurfacing, estheticians will assist in outlining proper pre- and post-treatment care in order to help the patient attain optimal skin health before surgery and to prepare the skin for post-procedure healing. They will also document patient progress with before-and-after photographs, and record treatment notes in the patient’s chart. Under the physician’s recommendation, the esthetician may provide deep cleansing facials before surgery, followed by soothing facials to help the skin heal after surgery.

In a dermatologist’s office. In a dermatologist’s office, the focus is much more clinical than in a cosmetic surgery practice or a medical spa, and the esthetician often is more utilized as a medical assistant. While the physician administers advanced chemical peels in this environment, the esthetician performs simple facial cleansings, assists during surgeries, performs extractions and keeps supplies stocked.

In a medical spa. In a medical spa that is attached to a physician’s office, an esthetician may be assigned to manage the product retail center, and will assist in choosing and selling professional cosmeceutical lines. Estheticians often provide makeup consultation services for post-procedure camouflage, and in a physician- or nurse practitioner-supervised medical spa, some states allow a licensed esthetician to provide laser therapies, such as laser hair removal, vascular, spider vein or intense pulsed light (IPL) treatments, along with body-shaping procedures and treatments for improving the appearance of cellulite.

Unfortunately, due to abuse by inadequately trained spa professionals that has resulted in client injury, many states have had to tighten laws that control procedures performed by estheticians. The requirements for training and having a physician on-site are being enacted and aggressively enforced in many states.

7 tips for success

Following are seven tips that can help estheticians interested in entering the medical arena enjoy a successful and fulfilling career.