Estheticians and the Medical Practice

Doctors and estheticians are natural allies in the field of cosmetic medicine, but including estheticians in a medical setting requires thought and training.

Skincare services are a natural fit for medical cosmetic practices. Hiring an esthetician to provide services, such as facials and microdermabrasion, will increase the number of times a patient enters your facility and can help prolong the results of medical procedures and increase patient satisfaction. In addition, these services—and the presence of an esthetician—can help support retail sales. “Practices need someone to educate patients on products and services and handle the retail skincare products in the practice,” says Wm. Philip Werschler, MD, assistant clinical professor of medicine and dermatology, University of Washington. “And estheticians have begun to take over these roles.”

Training and Orientation

If you are considering adding estheticians and non-medical skincare services to your practice, the first step is to determine what role the esthetician will play. “People look at dermatologists as skincare professionals; they don’t want to be referred to an esthetician to talk about skin care,” says Lorrie Klein, MD, president of OC Dermatology in Laguna Niguel, California. “Plastic surgeons, on the other hand, often smartly have estheticians who act as the skincare specialists and are available to answer patients’ questions and discuss products. It depends on your patients’ expectations and the interests of the provider. Do you want to delegate skincare questions and concerns? Or do you want to provide these services yourself?”

Though the services provided by estheticians in a medical aesthetic facility are similar to those provided in a spa, there are some key differences between the two settings. Dr. Werschler, who was one of the first dermatologists to employ estheticians in a dermatology practice, admits there were some initial challenges in integrating the two groups. “Estheticians are not medical professionals. They don’t use the same vernacular, so we weren’t speaking the same language. And even though we have the same end goals, the courses of our treatments are very different,” he says. “Estheticians needed to raise the bar on their training, and dermatologists needed to recognize the value of esthetic services.”