Jennifer loves going to work every day. She helps her patients feel beautiful and is a sought-after practitioner. Jennifer is a cosmetic nurse, also known as a plastic surgery nurse.
Jennifer performs specialized cosmetic procedures such as Botox injections, collagen replacement therapy, sclerotherapy, microdermabrasion, chemical peels, photo facials, tattoo removal, and more.
Cosmetics is a growing industry, and nurses are performing more and more nonsurgical aesthetic enhancement procedures. Cosmetics is appealing to nurses who enjoy working traditional office hours with a minimum of supervision.
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.
It’s not required to be an aesthetician in order to be a cosmetics nurse. The training required for a registered nurse, in addition to specialized training in skincare and cosmetic procedures, is beyond the training of an aesthetician.
Some employers prefer to hire nurses with outpatient surgical experience, but many hire new grads and train them on the job.
It is within most states’ nursing scope of practice to perform many cosmetic procedures with medical oversight.
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 many other nursing specialties.
Often training is provided on the job. On the job training is often considered preferable to paid courses because it takes place in a real-life clinical setting. Additional training on specific procedures is provided 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.
Prospective employers include private physicians, medical spas, hospitals, and clinics. You can work for a dermatologist or a 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.
Cosmetic nurses do not need to be certified 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.
Botox, collagen and other dermal fillers must typically 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 entraprenurial 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 also diligently research the following:
- 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.
About Nurse Beth
Beth Hawkes (Nurse Beth) is an accomplished nurse working in Acute Care as a Staff Development Professional Specialist. She is also an accomplished author, blogger, speaker, and columnist. As Nurse Beth, she regularly answers career-related questions at allnurses.com. Check out her book, “Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Job”.