What Does a Medical Aesthetician Do? Plus How to Become One

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated February 2, 2023

Published November 30, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A medical aesthetician performs specialized skin care services in a clinical setting. The role is ideal for those who are interested in helping those with medical issues look and feel good about themselves. Understanding the role medical aestheticians perform, and their career path, is key to determining if this is the career path for you. In this article, we explain what a medical aesthetician does, discuss the training and skills needed to become a medical aesthetician, and detail the salary expectations of medical aestheticians.

What does a medical aesthetician do?

The simplest answer to the question, "What does a medical aesthetician do?" is a medical aesthetician performs non-invasive cosmetic procedures and provides support to the professional medical team when working in a medical setting. The position of medical aesthetician has aspects that are an extension of the skills needed to be an esthetician. The types of work completed by a medical aesthetician based on the setting they work in are as follows:

Medical setting

A medical setting could include a cosmetic or plastic surgery practice, hospital, rehabilitation clinic, or specialty clinic. In these settings a medical aesthetician could:

  • advise patients on skincare prior to a procedure or surgery

  • undertake patient education around skin protection

  • obtain the patient's medical history

  • maintain the medical charts

  • ensure the medical treatment rooms remain safe and sanitary

  • coordinate patient care with the professional medical team

  • undertake pre-and post-operative care

  • complete patient follow up after treatment or discharge

  • assist the professional medical team in performing invasive procedures

When working in specialty clinics such as cancer or burns clinics, often medical aestheticians provide services that are designed to reduce patient anxiety while improving their confidence, which has been key to patient recovery. This could include helping to style a patient's hair, applying makeup, or operating a wig fitting service. These services can help to improve the overall wellbeing of the patient. Medical aestheticians also complete manual lymphatic drainage procedures and other non-invasive medical procedures in cancer clinics.

Related: How to Write a Beauty Therapist Cover Letter (With Example)

Dermatologist's office

The focus for medical aestheticians working in a dermatologist's office relates to minimizing the visual impact of various medical conditions, with the associated physical changes associated with medical issues being a major contributor to depression and anxiety. This could include conditions such as acne, hyperpigmentation, and eczema, or skin changes associated with a traumatic injury, such as burns. Medical aestheticians may also be responsible for various laser treatments and vascular lesion reductions.

Medical spa

Medical aestheticians working at medical spas might see clients with hyperpigmentation, scarring, or other skin conditions. Some medical aestheticians become the owners and managers of medical spas. In a medical spa setting, medical aestheticians can be responsible for the following:

  • chemical peels

  • tattoo removals

  • discolouration corrections

  • permanent makeup applications

  • microdermabrasion treatments

  • laser acne treatments

  • vascular lesion reductions

  • laser cellulite reductions

Medical aesthetician, aesthetician, or esthetician?

Aesthetician and esthetician are used interchangeably in Canada and the United States, with aesthetician predominantly used in Canada and esthetician in the United States. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. In some instances, aesthetician describes the specialized medical role we have referred to as medical aesthetician, while esthetician describes a more general role mainly carried out in beauty salons and spas. It can be confusing, so if you are looking for information, especially in the context of training programs and licensing, it is important to make sure you are clear about the role that is being discussed.

Related: A Guide on How to Become an Esthetician

Difference between medical aesthetician vs. esthetician

A medical aesthetician is a specialized position, while an esthetician performs a more general role and provides routine skin care services, usually at a beauty spa or salon. Most medical aestheticians complete training as an aesthetician either before commencing specialist training or as part of their training to become a medical aesthetician.

Besides having extensive knowledge of different beauty products and the benefits that each provides, estheticians perform the following services:

  • facial cleansing

  • hair removal (waxing and laser removal)

  • massaging

  • body wraps

  • skin repairs

  • exfoliation and extraction

  • eyelash extensions

  • skin rejuvenation

Read more:

  • Aesthetician vs. Esthetician: What's the Difference?

  • What Does an Esthetician Do? (With Skills and How to Become)

Difference between medical aesthetician and nurse aesthetician

While a medical aesthetician can carry out non-invasive procedures, they rarely perform invasive procedures. A nurse aesthetician first trains to become a registered nurse before completing specialist aesthetic training. They perform invasive procedures such as a dermal filling or Botox injections. Some nurse aestheticians work in the prosthetics field, creating lifelike prosthetics. There are large areas of the role of a medical aesthetician and a nurse aesthetician that overlap, with nurse aestheticians also performing most non-invasive procedures as part of their job.

Read more: How to Become an Aesthetic Nurse (With Skills and FAQs)

Skills needed to become a medical aesthetician

Successful medical aestheticians have the following skills and traits:

  • good communication and active listening skills

  • attention to detail

  • creativity

  • patience

  • open-mindedness

  • analytical skills

  • customer service skills

For medical aestheticians that aspire to own and operate their own medical spa, a good knowledge of business practices and financial management is considered essential. Those choosing this career path also require good people management skills.

Related: Business Development Skills: Definition and Examples

How to become a medical aesthetician

Medical aesthetican's have several options regarding the scope of their role and their work setting. To learn how to become a medical aesthetician follow these steps:

1. Complete a recognized medical aesthetics course

There are a number of medical aesthetic diploma courses throughout Canada that typically require between 1,000 and 1,100 hours of training to complete. The training is broken into two parts, theoretical learning in the classroom, and practical sessions in a clinical setting. Each province has its own requirements regarding the number of hours of learning that are required to obtain a practice licence. It's important when you are choosing your medical aesthetics course, you make sure it meets the requirements of the province where you are planning to work.

A medical aesthetics course typically covers the skills and knowledge required to be an esthetician before expanding into the areas that are specific to the medical aesthetician role. It involves study in the following areas:

  • cells, anatomy, and physiology of the skim

  • human anatomy and physiology

  • advanced facial techniques

  • medical and skin care therapy

  • manicure

  • pedicure

  • makeup artistry

  • corrective makeup

  • special effects makeup

  • superfluous hair treatments

  • body therapy

  • spa management

2. Obtain provincial licence

The requirements to obtain a practicing licence in each province are subject to change, so it's important to contact the respective provincial regulatory authority to obtain the most up-to-date information. Most provinces require candidates to be a minimum age (between 16 and 18), meet a minimum high school education requirement (either the completion of 10th grade, or to graduate), and sit an examination testing aesthetic practices and scientific concepts. Once you've obtained your licence, there are continuing education requirements to retain it.

3. Obtain certifications in areas of interest

Many of the procedures and duties that medical aestheticians carry out require specialist skills or advanced knowledge. Although there are no compulsory certification requirements for medical aestheticians, an appropriate certification can improve client confidence and make you more attractive to future employers. Certifications are available in a range of areas, including:

  • Laser treatments: Using laser technology for hair removal and skin care treatments.

  • Advanced aesthetics: Performing procedures such as skin tag removal, microdermabrasion, peels, and broken capillary treatments. Some certifications cover treatment for certain medical conditions, such as eczema or acne.

  • Advanced skin care: Undertaking skin analysis and skin care plan development, including other aspects of skin care, such as facial cleansing and body care.

  • Advanced makeup artistry: Covering skin type assessments, makeup application, and eyelash extensions.

  • Electrolysis: Using electrolysis for permanent hair removal, thermology, and understanding the required sterilization and infection control procedures.

Salary expectations and career prospects

The beauty industry has expanded exponentially as technology has advanced and more procedures offering more definitive results have become available. As a result, the demand for medical aestheticians is strong and is likely to remain that way for the foreseeable future. The national average salary for a medical aesthetician is $34,368 per year. The cities that pay the best salaries to medical aestheticians are Vancouver, where the average salary for a medical aesthetician is $40,906 per year, and Toronto, where the average salary for a medical aesthetician is $37,362 per year.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries‌ ‌may‌ ‌‌vary‌‌ ‌depending‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌hiring‌ ‌organization‌ ‌and‌ ‌a‌ ‌candidate's‌ ‌experience,‌ ‌academic‌ background‌, ‌and‌ ‌location.‌

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