Getting Technical: The Difference Between Standard and Medical Aesthetics

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You are passionate about empowering others to feel confident in their own skin. You love mastering new techniques and witnessing transformations. You enjoy the challenge of learning complex procedures. A career in medical aesthetics might be your calling. 

Embarking on a journey into the realm of medical aesthetics can be both exciting and overwhelming, especially if you are at the crossroads of trying to decide whether standard aesthetics or medical aesthetics is the best path for you. 

Don’t let the confusion of where to start hinder you from embarking on an exciting career in medical aesthetics. This article offers a roadmap to kickstart your fulfilling career. We will provide you with clarity on the distinctions between standard and medical aesthetics, career options, and training. 

Table of Contents

What Is the Field of Medical Aesthetics?

Medical aesthetics refers to medical interventions aimed to enhance the cosmetic appearance of patients. 

Think of medical aesthetics as the middle ground between plastic surgery procedures and routine beauty treatments. Medical aesthetics are treatments without the invasiveness of major surgical interventions but including science-backed treatments performed by estheticians with advanced training. 

How Has Medical Aesthetics Evolved?

While the beauty industry may have exploded with TikTok, medical aesthetics is not new. Aesthetic medicine dates all the way back to ancient Egypt.

There have been many advancements in the medical aesthetic industry over the last 30 years. Many of the treatments that were previously done in surgical suites can now be performed in offices. The medical aesthetic industry is booming as many people want that middle ground — more impactful results than typical beauty treatments without invasive surgery and downtime. 

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What Is the Difference Between Standard Aesthetics and Medical Aesthetics? 

Basic Aesthetics

So what types of services can a basic esthetician provide? 

Here are a few common treatments: 

  • Facials
  • Brow and body waxing
  • Body wraps
  • Skincare consultation
  • Lash extension (with a certificate)
  • Dermaplaning (with a certificate)

Medical Aesthetics 

Medical aesthetics involve more complex treatments that need to be done by skilled professionals with advanced training. These treatments involve using medical equipment such as lasers. This medical equipment can penetrate the epidermis unlike the equipment used in basic aesthetics. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates this medical equipment.

So what types of services can an esthetician provide with medical aesthetics training? 

Here are a few common treatments:

  • Laser hair removal
  • Skin rejuvenation
  • Tattoo removal
  • Cellulite reduction
  • Body contouring 
  • RF Microneedling 

Plastic surgeons and medical doctors can also perform advanced medical aesthetic procedures including surgeries like liposuction, breast augmentation, etc.  

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How Does Training Differ for Standard Estheticians vs. Estheticians Who Work in Medical Aesthetics?

As to be expected, estheticians who work in medical aesthetics require more training than standard estheticians. Given medical aesthetics procedures require the use of medical-grade devices, estheticians performing these procedures need to have the proper training and knowledge of anatomy and physiology.  

The state of Oregon requires a certification in Advanced Esthetics to perform medical aesthetics services. First, you need to have your general esthetician license plus an additional 500 hours of training. Additional hours are specific to different types of procedures such as laser hair removal.

An esthetician with medical aesthetics certification will allow you to work in medical spaces like dermatologists’ or plastic surgeons’ offices. 

Medical Aesthetics Training Involves Learning How To Use Devices That Are Considered ‘Medical’

The risk can be much greater in medical aesthetics, so training is extremely important. Part of medical aesthetics training is learning the proper use of medical devices. Let’s review a few of the devices that are used in medical aesthetics. 

Advanced Skin Rejuvenation Devices

Advanced skin rejuvenation devices target various skin problems such as wrinkles, sun damage, acne scars, and more. There are several treatments such as Radio Frequency (RF) Microneedling, advanced chemical peels, etc. 

The RF microneedling devices have rows of small needles or pins that are inserted into the skin while heat is applied. This stimulates collagen production, which reduces the appearance of wrinkles and scars. The FDA warns of common risks such as redness, itching, and peeling with RF microneedling. This is why it’s extremely important to have proper training. 

Laser Devices

Lasers are also a very common device for hair removal, tattoo removal, and skin resurfacing. 

The laser emits a concentrated beam of light. The light is absorbed by the hair’s pigment and then converted to heat — damaging the hair follicles and preventing hair growth. 

Similarly, lasers used for tattoo removal require several treatment sessions. The lasers cause the pigments to break down into smaller particles for your immune system to scavenge and eliminate from your body.  

Lasers are also used for skin resurfacing for acne and other texture issues. This laser removes the skin’s outermost layer. The layer underneath is heated which stimulates collagen production, improving the texture of the skin.  

Body Contouring Devices

Non-surgical body contouring methods reduce cellulite and fat in certain areas of the body. Unlike invasive surgical procedures which remove tissue, body contouring can improve the tightness of skin and reduce small areas of excess fat.

There are several body contouring techniques. One technique called cryolipolysis (sometimes referred to as fat freezing) targets an area by using an applicator with a vacuum to cool the skin to a temperature low enough to cause the fat cells to die. 

Each type of body contouring treatment involves the use of FDA-approved devices, which requires esthetician training and education. 

Cellulite Reduction Devices

There are also cellulite reduction treatments that require specialized medical aesthetic training. The FDA has approved both laser and non-laser treatments for cellulite. 

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Career Options for People Who Have Received Training in Medical Aesthetics

There are several promising career prospects for people who have training in medical aesthetics, including:

  • Clinical Esthetician
  • Laser Hair Removal Technician
  • Business Development Manager
  • Capital Equipment Rep
  • Advanced Device Trainer
  • Consultant

Read more about exciting career opportunities here. An esthetician with medical aesthetics certification will allow you to work in medical spaces like dermatologists’ or plastic surgeons’ offices. 

Where Can You Receive Training in Medical Aesthetics?

As discussed, proper training in medical aesthetics is critical! It’s important to find an esthetician program that not only satisfies your state’s requirement of hours but also leaves graduates feeling prepared and trained. Most states also require passing a state exam after your coursework to receive your certification in medical aesthetics. 

Continuing Education in the Medical Aesthetic Field

The medical aesthetic industry is always advancing. It’s important to stay in the know about all the latest treatments, advances in technology, etc.

Even as a seasoned esthetician in medical aesthetics, it’s important to complete continuing education. 

Spectrum Advanced Aesthetics offers onsite and virtual continuing education classes that will keep you current on all the latest technology and new treatments! 

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Spectrum Advanced Aesthetics: Premier Medical Aesthetics Training Located in Portland, Oregon

Are you ready to take your practice to the next level and become an esthetician with medical aesthetic training? Spectrum Advanced Aesthetics offers unmatched training and education in medical aesthetics. 

Our advanced course goes above and beyond in training estheticians. This 500-hour curriculum prepares estheticians for state board exams by going above Oregon state’s requirement for hands-on training, as we believe in preparing our students beyond the minimum standards. Our instructors are passionate about medical aesthetics and all have their own active practices, offering real-life perspectives to our students. Our commitment to excellence shines through the highest pass rate in Oregon's board exams, ensuring your success in the evolving field of esthetics.

The content in this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.