The medical aesthetics industry has witnessed nothing short of explosive growth in the past few years.
In fact, consumers spent more than $16 billion on cosmetic procedures last year.
The health and beauty market’s compound annual growth rate is projected at 10.8% from 2015 to 2020.
Medical Aesthetics Training & Expertise
Medical aesthetics is a rather broad term used to describe the industry, one that actually consists of several different areas of training and expertise.
In one area, plastic surgeons perform cosmetic surgeries requiring significant downtime. In another area, physicians, nurses, physician assistants and other medical professionals perform ablative and non-ablative laser- and IPL-based treatments as well cosmetic injectables including Botox, dermal fillers and Kybella.
And in another area, cosmetic laser technicians (who may or may not have an aesthetician or cosmetologist background) perform a number of non-ablative laser- and IPL-based treatments including:
- Laser and IPL Hair Removal
- IPL Photofacial
- Acne Reduction
- Laser Tattoo Removal
- Laser Spider Vein
- Fat Reduction
- Cellulite Reduction
- Micro Current
- Dermal Infusion/Vibration non-crystal advanced Microderm
- Radio Frequency Skin Tightening
- Laser Facial Peel
What’s Driving the Growth?
Though many experts accredit the growth to our selfie-saturated society and/or the rising popularity of television celebrities who frequently get medical aesthetics procedures, then promote these and other beauty-related products via social media, there’s probably more to it than meets the eye.
In more recent years, laser technology has improved dramatically, making procedures both faster and more results-oriented. Also, better technology has led to decreased (if any) downtime or pain. Of equal if not greater significance is the decreased price of many medical aesthetics procedures, opening up the market to a younger demographic more interested in cosmetic enhancement and preventative maintenance than corrective procedures.
What Background Training is Required?
People are often surprised to learn that in most states, no medical or esthetics background is required to perform cosmetic treatments. Necessary training can be achieved by attending a one- to two-week training course that includes both classroom instruction on skin anatomy, Fitzpatrick skin types, tissue interaction and laser safety as well as many hours of hands-on training.
While some laser manufacturers will provide training at no cost on a particular piece of equipment (notably, one that they distribute), the trainee is typically exposed to only one training style and one type of laser whereas in a comprehensive course, the trainee is exposed to a number of different training styles and modalities. This latter type of all-inclusive training can also be highly attractive to potential employers.
Job Opportunities in Medical Aesthetics
While it’s now a fairly common scenario in many states for cosmetic laser technicians to work under the supervision of a medical director (either on- or off-site, depending on the individual state’s regulations), there are many exciting career options for today’s laser technicians. Let’s take a closer look at some of these:
Physicians’ offices – Today’s average healthcare patient wants to look as good as they feel, so being able to offer both health and beauty services makes perfect sense. Once considered the exclusive domain of plastic surgeons and dermatologists, now many types of physicians from primary care providers to OB/GYNs, are also discovering the financial benefits of adding medical aesthetics services to their current practices. Clients love the convenience of a “one stop shop” and physicians appreciate that these are cash-based services, not subject to insurance hassles. As the demand for medical aesthetics procedures continues to rise, so, too, is the demand for qualified cosmetic laser technicians and medical professionals with aesthetic skills.
Medical spas – Just a decade or so, medical spas tended to focus on laser- and IPL-based skin rejuvenation, tattoo removal and hair removal as well as a limited number of cosmetic injectables. But with a plethora of technological and scientific advances made since that time, many medical spas are expanding their services to include a much larger range of combined aesthetically- and medically-based services including bioidentical hormone replacement therapy or BHRT, nonsurgical body contouring with HCG weight loss and microneedling with PRP.
Day spas, hair and beauty salons – Even though day spas tend to focus more on relaxation and rejuvenation, they, too, have recognized the need to offer services that deliver more dramatic results such as microcurrent technologies. The same is true for many hair and beauty salons. Some establishments have also begun bringing in a doctor or nurse a few days or evenings a week, providing medical aesthetics services to their established clientele who may have been going elsewhere for Botox and dermal fillers.
Niche boutiques – These have become especially popular for laser hair and tattoo removal, both of which typically require multiple treatment sessions to obtain optimal results, meaning that new clients can be easily be turned into repeat clients who will then recommend the boutique to friends. Small boutiques focusing only on one type of treatment can keep overhead costs lower while providing fast, efficient service.
Career Options for Medical Professionals
While some medical professionals have augmented their existing practices with medical aesthetics services, those with more of an entrepreneurial spirit have chosen to exit the daily grind of insurance hassles and open their own medical spas. Either way, one thing is certain for medical professionals wanting to offer medical aesthetics services to their patients: Botox and dermal fillers are now just the tip of the iceberg.
Cosmetic injectables have expanded to include Kybella for moderate to severe submental chin fat as well as PRP injections that can be used alone and with modalities such as microneedling to encourage collagen growth and improve skin’s tone and texture. PRP can also be used with radiofrequency to obtain dramatic results in female rejuvenation.
The Future is Bright
Technology associated with medical aesthetics will continue to improve, as will consumer demand for services. Whether you’re a career changer completely new to the industry, an aesthetician or cosmetologist wanting to add cosmetic laser services to your current skill set or a medical professional wanting to increase your bottom line, learning the industry’s latest techniques and procedures can prove to be very rewarding, indeed.