Have you ever wondered what the difference between a facial at the spa and at a plastic surgeon’s office is? They both provide skin-healthy benefits, but is there a benefit to having one performed over the other?

These are great questions, and in a nutshell, medical and spa aestheticians are both skincare specialists that provide unique perspectives on skincare. Both professions do have subtle differences, however,  in technique, education and pay. Below are a few reasons medical aestheticians differ from spa aestheticians.


More often than not, a medical aesthetician will work at a dermatologists or plastic surgeon’s office and have a background in the healthcare industry. Medical aestheticians can provide mild skincare treatments like facials, microdermabrasion or a chemical peel, or more advanced procedures that require lasers, potent acids and other chemicals like a CO2 facial or fractional.

A spa aesthetician is usually limited to administering gentler skincare treatments like facials, skin exfoliation and facial massages. These individuals are often found in salons, spas, resorts and fitness centers. Both work in the realm of hair removal and makeup application, but in different ways. A medical aesthetician may use a laser and other tools to remove hair or apply makeup, whereas a spa aesthetician will use traditional methods like wax strips to remove hair and non-permanent makeup for makeup applications.


The education between the two professions does differ slightly, but both professionals must complete a practical training program to be eligible for an license or some kind of degree. Licensure requirements and training programs can vary by state. A spa aesthetician may learn beauty-related services like facials, skin analysis, body treatments, make-up and false lash application, and may be required to take a licensing exam after less than a year of schooling (roughly 6.5-9 months).

Medical aestheticians can receive training in laser and medical aesthetic procedures, like laser hair removal and chemical peels if they don’t have any prior certifications. Some states only allow registered nurses, physician assistants and/or physicians to perform cosmetic injections like BOTOX, Dysport and other dermal fillers, while other states allow vocational licensed nurses and/or medical assistant to perform these services. The education for a medical aesthetician differs by state, so you’ll want to do your research if you’re interested in going to school to become a medical aesthetician.


Generally speaking, medical aestheticians make more money than a spa aesthetician. According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, the salary listed for aestheticians does not differentiate between medical and spa. In 2011, aestheticians who worked in a physicians’ office had an average annual salary of $38,680, while those who worked in spas and salons earned an average annual salary of $30,340. Aestheticians working in medical and surgical hospitals had an average annual salary of $39,300 and those who worked in outpatient care centers earned $40,490. However, these numbers represent an average and are from a few years ago, so an aesthetician’s salary could be higher or lower.

If you wish to set up a consultation with one of our surgeons, please do not hesitate to call us at our Phoenix location. We are easily accessible and here to help. Call us now at (602) 513-8133.

The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.

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