The aesthetics industry is experiencing a massive growth moment from a patient perspective. Not only are more people exploring treatments, but those who are treated regularly are increasingly open to new or more substantial treatments. Trends within the industry are changing and, in turn, affecting provider demand.
Between social media filters and the pivot to remote video meetings, public interest in enhancing physical appearance has increased significantly. In fact, a Google trend analysis shows that interest specifically in above-the-shoulder procedures, including searches like Botox and lip augmentation, increased after February 2020. What does this mean for the aesthetics industry?
Allergan, the manufacturer of popular neurotoxin, Botox®, shared that their customer Botox® sales increased around 40 percent last year. There was a large increase in the number of treatments and they anticipate similar growth for this product in the current year. Currently, there are 7 to 8 million people receive Botox treatments each year. But there is a significant opportunity here, considering there are another 30 million who are aware of Botox but have yet to receive treatment. Last year alone, over 1 million patients sought treatment with neurotoxins or fillers for the first time.
Not only is the interest in aesthetic treatments increasing, but the demographics are shifting along with it. Ten years ago, the primary neurotoxin consumers were females between the ages of 44 and 65 receiving an average of 33 units per visit. As the demographic has expanded to include a younger clientele, the average treatment has increased to 40 units. With the increased visibility and normalization of medical aesthetic treatments, typical patients are younger and more open to all treatments right away. The most common initial treatment for patients in their early twenties is a lip filler with products such as Restylane® or Juvéderm®. There is also an increased interest in the male population, often seeking out crow's feet wrinkle correction and jawline filler for a crisper, more defined appearance. Within the transgender population in particular, neurotoxins and fillers have increased in popularity to help achieve a more masculine or feminine appearance.
This type of rapid growth is a challenge with the number of qualified providers available to treat. Demand for aesthetic injectables is higher than ever, which creates an incredible opportunity for other medical professionals to transition into the space. Before discussing different ways to become an injector, please note that aesthetics is one of the most challenging fields to work in, especially when looking at the risk involved with using these products so meticulously. Injecting is much harder than it looks and requires a lot of training and expertise to be successful.
No medical professional’s path to injecting will ever be exactly the same. There are many routes that can be taken into the aesthetics field, and all are equally valid. A provider's short-term and long-term goals may impact the credentials they choose to go after, or not go after. While credentials are important and necessary to get started in the field, experience is extremely valuable for aesthetic injectors. Let’s take a look at the different approaches that can be considered in starting the injector journey.
One place to start as an injector is as a Registered Nurse (RN). This title can be earned in two different ways: through a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or an Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN). The BSN route requires a four-year education with a leadership focus in addition to clinical experience. An ADN can be obtained through a two-year community college, with a heavier emphasis on clinical hours completed.
If you’re interested in taking your traditional education a step further, a master's degree can be obtained to become a Physician Assistant (PA). This additional credential gives providers the capability to prescribe medicine and make a diagnosis, which is not necessary to be a successful injector but increases overall knowledge. Another option is becoming a Nurse Practitioner (NP), which also requires completion of either a master's or doctoral nursing program. While PAs and NPs can take on similar job responsibilities, there are a few key differences in their focus areas. While both programs center on the diagnosis and treatment of disease, masters programs for PAs focus on the medical model whereas NP programs are based on the nursing model of care. In addition, PAs will always work interdependently with a physician, where NPs actually have full practice authority in 24 states.
Finally, an injector can be at the Medical Doctor (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathy (DO) level. This includes all providers from general practitioners, to dermatologists, and plastic surgeons. Medical doctors have the ability to inject in any state, and in most states physicians are required to oversee any and all injectors. As an example, in California, an RN, PA, or NP cannot inject without being associated with a medical director, such as Dr. Patrick Blake, MD, for Portrait.
While it is by no means required to obtain any credentialing other than RN, some providers find the additional education very impactful to their daily practice. Portrait provider, Nicole Brustkern, DNP, FNP-C, CPNP, recently went back to school to become a Doctor of Nursing Practice. Doing so has transformed her into a more confident, independent provider. When she sees patients who may be taking different medications, her depth of knowledge allows her to consider what these substances do and how they may affect treatment response. In addition, learning to do evidence-based research while pursuing her degree has impacted how she makes treatment decisions and cares for her patients. Many small takeaways from additional education add up to making her that much more comfortable in working independently with her own practice.
The Power of Experience
When contemplating who to choose as a provider, don’t get distracted by just the credentials. While a Medical Doctor does complete more schooling to get their degree, that doesn’t mean they are any more qualified or specialized in aesthetics. In theory, one could visit their podiatrist and get filler on the way out, but it might not be the best idea! Unless they’ve got a ton of experience, of course.
In this industry, experience is really the key component. Some of the best and most sought-after injectors are extremely experienced RNs who continue to master & advance their craft. Others are MDs who have transitioned from a specialty into injectables and continue to build their skills. No matter the title, continuous training and hands-on experience are the best ways to increase injector talent and build confidence as a provider. The more experience an injector has, the more valuable their services are, so all providers should increase their prices based on what their experience is and what they’re good at. The better one gets, the more they should charge.