How to Become a Cosmetics Nurse
What is a cosmetic nurse?
Ashley loves her job as an injection/laser specialist in a thriving medspa. Among other procedures, she administers Botox, and for the most part, deals with happy and grateful clients who are thrilled with the results of Ashely’s work.
It’s satisfying because Ashley is the primary professional contact for her patients and provides the majority of aesthetic procedures unsupervised.
Cosmetic nurses, also known as plastic surgery nurses, are RNs with specialized training in cosmetic procedures such as Botox injections, collagen replacement therapy, sclerotherapy, microdermabrasion, chemical peels, photofacials, tattoo removal, and more.
Nurses are performing more and more nonsurgical aesthetic enhancement procedures in this growing industry.
Do I need to be an aesthetician to become a cosmetics nurse?
No, you do NOT need to be an aesthetician. The training required for a registered nurse, in addition to specialized training in skin care and cosmetic procedures, is beyond the training of an aesthetician.
Do I need a license to become a cosmetics nurse?
Currently there is no separate licensing needed for a Registered Nurse to become a cosmetics nurse. Cosmetic nursing is a relatively new and rapidly evolving field. As such, an industry-standard training path hasn’t been finalized as it has for most other nursing specialties.
It is within most states’ nursing scope of practice to perform many cosmetic procedures with proper oversight.
However, additional training on specific procedures is necessary. Training is available from product manufacturers and medical esthetics institutes. Training programs may offer certification in certain procedures, but most states do not require treatment-specific certification or licensing.
Training can be also be provided on the job under the oversight of a physician. On the job training is considered preferable to paid courses by many nurses because it’s free, and learning takes place in a real life clinical setting.
Some employers prefer to hire nurses with outpatient surgical experience, but many hire new grads and train them on the job.
Where can I work as a cosmetic nurse?
Prospective employers include private physicians, medical spas, hospitals, and clinics. You can work for a dermatologist, or plastic surgeon. Make sure the physicians you work with are board certified.
Some clinics specialize in certain procedures, such as IPL photofacials to treat rosacea, light acne scars, and redness, or laser hair removal. Others specialize in cosmetic tattoos, and many provide multiple services.
The successful cosmetics nurse must relate to people well, and in some settings, be able to guide/upsell and educate clients about products and services.
Can cosmetic nurses obtain speciality certification?
It isn’t necessary for cosmetic nurses to have a separate certification to work in cosmetic nursing or plastic surgical nursing, but voluntary certification can help with career advancement as well as professional development. Currently, there are no nationally recognized guidelines for nurse aesthetics certifications offered through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).
The Certified Aesthetics Nurse Specialist (CANS) credential is available through the Plastic Surgical Nursing Certification Board (PSNCB). Obtaining this specialty certification demonstrates competency in carrying out cosmetic procedures.
Eligibility requirements for the CANS exam include an RN license and two years of experience as an RN with one of those years working in facial plastic surgery ENT, plastic/aesthetic surgery, dermatology or ophthalmology. Nurses must re-certify every three years by accruing 45 contact hours through continuing education.
The Dermatology Nurses Association also offers a Dermatology Nurse Certification.
Join the American Society of Plastic Surgical Nurses (ASPSN) for additional educational resources and information. You can also purchase Plastic Surgery: Scope and Standards of Practice 2nd edition, published by the American Nurses Association (ANA) in conjunction with ASPSN.
Can I operate independently?
Generally, Botox, collagen and other soft tissue fillers must be purchased under a physician’s license, so cosmetic nurses need to align with a provider approved by their state who will serve as their Medical Director. Medical Directors can be plastic surgeons, dermatologists, ophthalmologists or any other licensed physician with an interest in medical aesthetics. Their responsibility is to provide supervision to comply with state laws of medical and nursing practice.
Each state has different regulations when it comes to aesthetics, what is defined as “medical” and which professional can do what procedure or treatment.
Some nurses have been successful in opening a medspa and hiring a Medical Director. Typically insurance does not reimburse for cosmetic procedures, so there is no complicated billing and insurance to deal with. Consider consulting an attorney and a business consultant if owning your own business is your goal.
You must diligently research the:
- Governing laws in your state. What is considered a medical procedure (can be performed by MD or under MD oversight only)? Which products can only be obtained
by an MD in your state (Dermal fillers, Botox)?
- Board of Nursing (BON) regulations in your state to find out what your scope of practice is regarding cosmetic procedures/treatments.
- Coverage provided by your insurance carrier to make sure you are insured for the specific procedures you intend to perform.
Best wishes on pursuing a career in medical aesthetics.
Until next time friend,
You can also come visit me at Ask Nurse Beth career column at allnurses.com for all kinds of entertaining and informative career questions and answers, and to submit your own question 🙂