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The Importance of Advanced Education in Medical Esthetics

By: Terri Wojak
Posted: January 29, 2010, from the February 2010 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

The field of esthetics continues to evolve, and during the past five years, highly motivated skin care professionals have sought the advanced training and knowledge that has helped to create and define the emerging role of estheticians in medical practices.

Estheticians have become increasingly important and recognized adjuncts to physicians who practice cosmetic medicine, and they realize many benefits from this. Estheticians not only gain more experience, but the procedures and products used are validated when medical professionals recommend them. This gives estheticians the ability to treat clients more effectively, and therefore, build a solid clientele.

The medical esthetician

Working in a medical office differs in many ways from working in a spa. Because there is no nationwide standard of education for estheticians employed in the medical field, many just use the title “medical esthetician,” which is often not supported by formalized training. Although this is not a legally recognized term and anyone can call themselves a medical esthetician, it is a title generally used by those who have had advanced training or are currently working under the direction of physicians. All estheticians should have a solid education focused on the skin, product knowledge and sanitation procedures. Although it is important to know the basics first, an advanced education will set an esthetician apart from those who are limited by only knowing the fundamentals. The medical esthetician must be trained on the legalities of working in a medical office, as well as advanced techniques, medical procedures and strict medical guidelines. See Firsthand Advice From an Esthetician in the Medical Field.

Adverse reaction awareness

Most physician’s offices offer products and services that may be more effective, but also may have a greater risk of adverse reactions if not used properly. Some of these include medical devices such as ultrasound, higher-level chemical peels, lymphatic drainage massage and dermaplaning. It is important to be aware of any possible contraindications with these procedures because the side effects can be quite serious.

For example, an ultrasound device used with electrical stimulation on a patient with a heart condition could cause serious health risks. Products sold in medical offices often have higher-level active ingredients, as well. Care needs to be taken when combining certain products or adding them into a client’s current product regimen. Also, estheticians must make sure clients discontinue the use of certain products before receiving medical services, such as specific laser treatments. Some of the adverse reactions that may occur include redness, swelling, severe peeling, hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation, and in some cases, even scarring.

Duties in a medical office