Medical Aesthetician or Esthetician

Most people do not understand what the difference is between an esthetician and a medical aesthetician. Although the two professions do have some similarities, there are also some vast differences as well. It is important to understand the difference if you are considering a career in esthetics or medical aesthetics, and you will want to know the differences in the training, license requirements and job potential.

Estheticians are those who are performing skin care services, which can include massage, hair removal, skin cleansing and skin toning. Medical aestheticians may also perform the same tasks that an esthetician does, however, medical aestheticians also have further training that allows for them to work in a clinical setting where they can perform more specialized treatments. Therefore, while estheticians can usually be found working in a salon or a spa, medical aestheticians are more likely to be working in a rehabilitation center or a plastic surgeon’s office.

Estheticians generally are working with clients who have minor skin problems, like age spots or dry skin. Medical aestheticians tend to work with clients who are suffering from much more serious skin problems, including burns, trauma or helping people after they have had plastic surgery.

Estheticians usually are required to take at least 600 hours’ worth of training in order to obtain their license. Their studies will include training on skin conditions, hair removal, massage techniques, facial cleansings and management of salons. Medical aestheticians will usually be trained in these same areas, but their training might also include pre- and post-surgical skincare, permanent makeup, eyelash extensions, advanced hair removal and manual lymphatic drainage.

The career path for estheticians and medical aestheticians will vary as well. Spa estheticians will work in a salon or spa performing the tasks in which they were trained. They might also one day become a beauty educator and that would involve visiting various locations and training estheticians on different beauty products.

Cosmetic medical aestheticians will usually work either in a hospital or a rehabilitation center to help patients after they have suffered a trauma or an illness. Medical spa aestheticians will usually work in a salon or spa and will usually help clients with sun damage, perform chemical peels, do tattoo removal or cauterize varicose veins. A medical aesthetician might also eventually become a medical aesthetician training inspector and that job involves going to rehabilitation centers and medical spas to make sure that all regulations are being followed.

A small sampling of the services provided by estheticians and medical
aestheticians includes:
  • Microdermabrasion
  • Chemical peels
  • Laser resurfacing
  • Laser skin rejuvenation
  • Light therapy
  • Thermage
  • Waxing/threading/chemical hair removal
  • Facials
  • Face and body masks and wraps
  • Makeup application
  • Manual or mechanical extraction
  • Pore cleansing
  • Body scrubs (salt and sugar scrubs) and other types of exfoliation
  • Aromatherapy
  • Moisturizing treatments
  • Acne treatments
  • Scalp massage and treatments

The disadvantages of both careers:

  • Both spend a lot of time on their feet.
  • Some of the chemicals used to treat people's skin may have strong odors or pose potential risks if used improperly.
  • It's common for both to work evenings and weekends to accommodate clients' schedules.
  • Many jobs factor commissions into pay structures, based on the services provided and the products sold.
  • No matter how adept you are at choosing and applying the right treatment for each client, some will be unhappy with your services.
Amaris, J. (2015, February 20). Get radiant skin, hair and nails naturally
Cohen, J. L. (2010, September). Enhancing the growth of natural eyelashes: The mechanism of bimatoprost-induced eyelash growth. Dermatologic Surgery, 36(9), 1361-1371
Jones, D. (2011, February). Enhanced eyelashes: Prescription and over-the-counter options. Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, 35(1), 116-121
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2014, January 2). Iron deficiency anemia
Photo Credit: Gideon Hezekiah


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