I asked one of my peers the other day what question she frequently gets from patients. She said that two questions she gets are: what is the difference between medical grade home care and store bought home care, and what is the difference between an esthetician and a medical esthetician? I have written on a few occasions about the importance of using medical grade home care for optimal results, but I don’t think I have ever talked about the difference between what I used to be and what I now am.
Although the services of an esthetician have changed over the years, some things remain constant. An esthetician should be able to determine skin types, should know the best products for the patient and should be able to detect some basic skin disorders or disease. She should be good at doing a basic or even an advanced facial, including knowing proper massage techniques for their skin type. She should know during a facial what is best used on that person’s skin.
The esthetician should know how to do a manicure, pedicure, waxing and some estheticians are very good with body treatments, such as scrubs or wraps. Most estheticians work within the epidermis of the skin. Although an esthetician can often detect a nail fungus, rosacea, broken vessels or acne, she is limited to what she can do to help alleviate these problems. I remember doing the most amazing facials at a clinic I worked in. I had also been trained in aromatherapy and several massage techniques. When my patient came in for a facial with good skin, my facial was fantastic. However, when they would come in with a skin condition, I felt my hands were tied. Not only was I not equipped to help, I really didn’t possess the knowledge as to what to suggest to the patient to alleviate her problems.
As a medical esthetician, it is back to school to learn in depth so much more about the skin, what lasers and other treatments can do to treat skin conditions that regular estheticians are unable to help with. Each medical esthetic program is slightly different, but they will all primarily focus on lasers, IPL or BBL, chemical peels and microdermabrasion. With a basic understanding of each of these treatments, how they work and what they do, the esthetician is thrown out into the medical field to get experience and a better understanding of what she is now capable of doing for her patient.
There is constant training with the services and the products offered at each clinic. It is important that the medical esthetician is always current and aware of the ever-changing landscape in her field. She must keep up to date on the latest trends as well as be aware of new procedures, new lasers and be up to date on new options with the machines she is already working with.
At Toronto Dermatology Centre, the medical esthetician is an extension of our dermatologists. The patient may be seen by the dermatologist, diagnosed and then sent to us to finish the consult. It is our job to direct the patient in the right direction when medication isn’t enough, or isn’t right in the first place. We are responsible for helping guide the patient towards a proper treatment or topical product that will either enhance what the doctor has prescribed, or offer proper treatment for the occasion when medication isn’t an option at all. We are informed at regular intervals of new medications on the market, what they do and how they interact with the patient’s skin. We are taught how to increase the probability of positive results for the patient.
All in all, there is a time and place for both estheticians and medical estheticians. And while I loved being an esthetician, for me there is no comparison to how I can now help more patients with more extreme skin concerns. I may not do nails anymore, but I can get rid of sun spots, acne, rosacea and more. How awesome is that?
~ Sheri Roselle, Medical Esthetician at Toronto Dermatology Centre