Aesthetic Nurses

Aesthetic nurses perform or assist with aesthetic procedures that are outside the scope of cosmetologists and aestheticians. They need broad and deep knowledge of healthcare to assess and monitor treatment. Treatments can include Botox injections, chemical peels, skin resurfacing, micro-needling, and laser treatments.

Giving injectable treatments is such a common duty that some refer to aesthetic nurses as injection nurses. This type of injection is an art as well as a science. However, the term is relatively narrow – these professionals can do quite a bit. Some wield lasers. They may remove tattoos or remove hair. They may assist with plastic surgery, taking on perioperative duties such as pre-op, post-op, circulator, and scrub.

Nurses go into aesthetics for multiple reasons. They may state that they don’t want the emotional toll of working in life and death situations or that they love the way people respond when they see themselves after a treatment. Aesthetic nursing can be lucrative. Some manage to make it a business.

Aesthetic nurses practice at multiple levels. RNs perform treatments under direction of doctors or advanced practice nurses. Advanced practices nurses, on the other hand, may write the treatment orders. The level of autonomy granted to nurse practitioners varies from state to state.

LPNs typically have a more limited scope.

Aesthetic Nurse Education and Training

Aesthetic nurses start out as generalists. Ultimately they need training beyond what is included in the basic nursing program. They can pursue training through continuing education. Continuing education takes different forms, including conferences. It can be helpful to do a bit of networking as well.

Nurses who are interested in the cosmetology field can begin by taking courses like Botox injection. There are many aesthetic courses: sclerotherapyand microdemabrasion. The following are among the aesthetic course providers:

• National Laser Institute
• Empire Medical Training
• American Academy of Procedural Medicine
• The Aesthetic Academy
• Aesthetic Mentor

It can help to have nursing experience – it adds to a nurse’s credibility.

This can be a difficult field to break into. Aesthetic nurses may charge for shadowing. It can help to have a mentor at the student stage.

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Aesthetic Nurse Professional Certification

An experienced aesthetic nurse can pursue certification as a Certified Aesthetic Nurse Specialist, or CANS; this is issued by the Plastic Surgical Nursing Certification Board. CANS certification is RN-level. The candidate will need at least two years of experience with no fewer than 1,000 hours accrued in the prior two years. He or she must be working with a doctor who is Board certified in one of the following areas: plastic/aesthetic surgery, facial plastic surgery, dermatology, or ophthalmology.

CANS certification can be renewed through continuing education or re-examination.

The Plastic Surgical Nursing Certification Board also issues the Certified Plastic Surgical Nurse (CPSN).

Aesthetic nursing may be practiced as a sub-specialty of dermatology nursing. Aesthetic nurses may be certified as dermatology nurses or dermatology nurse practitioners. In this case, the certifying body will be the Dermatology Certification Board or the Dermatology Nurse Practitioner Certification Board.

Aesthetic Nurse Work Settings

Aesthetic nurses may work in settings such as private medical practices, ophthalmologist offices, laser clinics, and ‘med spas’. Opthalmologists perform more aesthetic services than one might imagine – their scope includes the area around the eye, not just the eye itself. Med spas can be a great place to work but RNs do need to exert caution that the business is a legitimate medical facility that won’t expect them to work under inadequate supervision. Without an advance practice credential, cosmetology nurses are not independent professionals. This doesn’t necessarily mean, though, that there has to be a medical professional onsite at all times.

Many practices are small. Some aesthetic centers are part of hospital-affiliated health systems. Emory Aesthetic Center in Atlanta is an example.

Some aesthetic nurses have their own businesses – potentially a very fulfilling work option. They need to make sure they are operating within their scope of practice. A nurse must take a state-specific approach. The North Carolina Board of Nursing, for example, makes it clear that this is an allowable for RNs when criteria are followed (

Aesthetic Nurse Scope of Practice

The International Society of Plastic and Aesthetic Nurses (ISPAN) has published decision trees for nurses to use when determining whether a particular procedure is within their scope of practice.

ISPAN has issued position statements about laser, light, and energy therapy (LLE) and injections. LLE training was to include biophysics and tissue interactions, patient care and management, clinical applications, and adverse events, among other topics.

Actual scope of practice is set at the state level, and here, too, training and competence are paramount. A number of states have issued advisory statements about the scope of practice for aesthetic nurses at different levels.


The International Society of Plastic and Aesthetic Nurses is a membership organization for aesthetic nurses (

National Nurses in Business provides resources for nurse entrepreneurs (

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