The role of a nurse practitioner in cosmetic medicine

The Role of a Nurse Practitioner in Cosmetic Medicine

By Kym Cullen, Nurse Practitioner at Academy Face and Body and Clinical Preceptor for Master of Nurse Practitioner (Curtin University)

The term ‘cosmetic’ appeared early in 17th century as a noun denoting the art of beautifying the body. It has French and Greek roots ‘kosmein’ to arrange or adorn. The adjective ‘cosmetic’ relates to treatment intended to restore or improve appearance of a person.

The role of a Nurse Practitioner (NP) in the field of cosmetic medicine and cosmetic nursing is broad and encompasses the particular needs and desires of a population. From skin lesion removal strategies and tissue repair to cosmetic procedures and dermal therapies, this is a continually emerging and interesting science.

There are many skills advanced NP cosmetic nurses may use in this role including; assessment, diagnostics, treatment, referral, education, follow up and data collection. The role is much broader than most imagine, ie. it’s not just about administering ‘botox’ and ‘filler’, but rather providing a spectrum of services such as:

  • Laser and light-based procedures, safety and physics
  • Cosmetic injectables; may include treatment for hyperhidrosis, migraine headache, overactive muscles and palsy improvement
  • Platelet rich plasma injections for aesthetic and wound healing purposes
  • Dermal therapies and cosmeceutical selection
  • Skin tightening procedures using energy-based systems
  • Non-invasive body contouring
  • Surgical assisting, scrub, scout perioperative in cosmetic surgery or reconstruction
  • Pre and post-operative assessment, including medication review, complete physical assessment, patient teaching, ordering diagnostic tests and medical collaboration where required
  • Skin assessment, lesion biopsy and result management

It is not viable to think that all the above can be achieved in one role, although more than one does complement another and will widen your patient base. Finding opportunity that matches your interest is the ideal way to achieve great outcomes for the NP, patient and collaborative work team. The Australasian Academy of Cosmetic Dermal Science is well placed for networking, information and education, now affiliated with Curtin University NP program.

The NP role in cosmetic medicine and cosmetic nursing complements other health providers. Autonomous practice can address minor patient concerns in a timely manner. Issues with Medicare remuneration for NP practice – currently billing for time in consult is in the process of change. Procedural billing, including for surgeon assist, is being addressed by Australian College of Nurse Practitioners (ACNP) to Australian Government. MBS claims cannot be made for purely cosmetic consultations where no health issues are assessed or followed up.

Medication Management and Prescribing

Medications for cosmetic injecting (S4) may be prescribed by the NP who has formal training in this area (formal training refers to a qualification that is recognised on the Australian Qualification Framework such as the Graduate Diploma of Cosmetic Nursing and Injectables). Purchasing arrangements for injectable product is through a collaborative arrangement with a licensed Medical Practitioner. Keeping in mind that any medication prescribing is always kept within NP current scope of practice.

Pre-procedure assessment includes patient health history, medications, vitamin supplements and type of procedure indicated. Included in this documentation to be considered are; allergies, age, weight, skin condition, diet and patient preferences. The NP role at Academy Face and Body is supported in that there are prescribing guidelines for certain circumstances. The NP knowledge of interactions/effect of medications/vitamins and herbs on vascular health improves the safety and efficacy of invasive procedures.

Holistic Patient Assessment and Treatment

Cosmetic treatment, whether it be surgical or non-surgical, should involve a holistic assessment and treatment approach. A Nurse Practitioner has the knowledge and skills to investigate aspects of patient health that may be contributing to certain skin concerns. For example, a patient undergoing a facelift may also be educated about diet and lifestyle factors that may contribute to ageing skin. Providing this information empowers the patient to change aspects of their diet and lifestyle to extend the longevity of the facelift results. Likewise, patients undergoing treatment for a range of dermatologic conditions should always be assessed and treated holistically. The treatment approach often encompasses a combination of dermal therapies, topical or oral medications (if required) and diet and lifestyle changes.

It is extremely rewarding to be a Nurse Practitioner making a difference, improving not only appearance but overall skin health maintenance. This in turn may improve mental health and longevity.

NP Program Entry Requirements

If you’re considering a NP career pathway, your next step is to discuss program entry requirements with a Course Coordinator. For further information about Curtin University’s Master of Nurse Practitioner, please click here to view their handbook.