Careers Paths

Six Steps to Becoming a Plastic Surgery Nurse

The goal of plastic surgery nursing is to enhance a patient’s aesthetic appearance through restorative or cosmetic surgery. Patients can benefit from your assistance as a plastic surgery nurse by asking questions, getting ready for surgery, and receiving post-operative care. It’s critical to comprehend the qualifications for becoming a plastic surgery nurse to succeed in this line of employment. In this post, we’ll explain what a plastic surgery nurse is, go over how to become one, and go over various qualifications you can have to advance in the field.

What exactly is a plastic surgery nurse?

A medical practitioner who provides care for patients undergoing aesthetic or reconstructive treatments is a plastic surgery nurse. Facelifts, liposuction, chemical peels, and laser therapy are a few examples of these operations. Cosmetic surgery nurses, also referred to as aesthetic nurses, can work in various settings, such as dermatologists’ clinics, health spas, and cosmetic surgeons’ offices.

What is the role of a plastic surgery nurse?

Depending on their area of expertise and workplace, plastic surgery nurses could be responsible for a diverse variety of tasks. A plastic surgery nurse’s duties may also include:

  • Preparing treatment areas and sanitizing medical equipment
  • Assisting surgeons with operations and cosmetic surgery
  • Examining patients physically, collecting X-rays, and using ultrasounds
  • Giving non-invasive cosmetic treatments, like dermal fillers, chemical peels, and wrinkle injections
  • Getting patients ready for surgery and anesthesia
  • Making sure patients are safe while being treated
  • Keeping up with medical breakthroughs by researching new techniques
  • Evaluating skin-related health issues or issues
  • Changing bandages and giving medication
  • Making appointment plans
  • Registering patients at the facility
  • Providing after-surgery care

Salary and job prospects for plastic surgery nurses

Although there isn’t a precise wage for registered nurses who work in plastic surgery, it is $78,485 on average for all licensed nurses nationwide. Additionally, registered nurses can anticipate a yearly overtime salary of $11,250. According to projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of registered nurses employed will rise by 7% between 2019 and 2029. Depending on their place of employment, registered nurses could also qualify for benefits. Among the most typical advantages that registered nurses enjoy are:

  • Dental Insurance
  • Health insurance
  • 401(k) matching
  • Life insurance
  • 403(b)
  • Vision insurance
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Worker referral program
  • Loan forgiveness
  • License reimbursement
  • Caregiver reimbursement

How to train to work as a plastic surgery nurse

The professional path for plastic surgery nurses is comparable to that of registered nurses, however, they also need additional credentials and specific job experience. You can take the following actions to train to be a plastic surgery nurse:

1. Earn a bachelor’s degree

The majority of plastic surgery nurses finish a Bachelor of Science in nursing to start their employment. Before enrolling in a bachelor’s program, confirm that the university or college has an accredited nursing program by contacting the nursing board in your state. This can assist you in completing the educational requirements needed to qualify as a nurse practitioner (NP) or registered nurse (RN), which is a prerequisite for working as a plastic surgery nurse. A bachelor’s degree in nursing is normally earned in four to five years. You could take some of the following courses as part of your undergraduate degree:

  • Health care policy
  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • General patient care
  • Nursing research
  • Clinical study
  • Psychology
  • Biology
  • General surgery

Getting a nursing associate’s or bachelor’s degree is the first step in becoming a nurse. By using lectures, labs, and clinical experiences in healthcare settings, nurse education trains students to work as registered nurses (RNs).

Employers strongly favor nursing graduates with a four-year BSN degree. A BSN may even be necessary for licensing in certain regions. A two-year degree is an ADN. An RN-to-BSN bridge program is an expedited option that can be finished in 12–18 months for nurses having an ADN who wish to obtain their BSN.

2. Obtain a nursing license

Make an application for your nursing license in the following step. Choose the state you want to work in before completing your application because each state has different nursing qualifications. Your designated state nursing board may require that you submit your finished application together with school transcripts and the results of a background investigation. You must also apply for a Nurse Licensure Compact if you intend to work in several states. To discover more about the prerequisites for applications, research the nursing board regulations in your state.

3. Become NCLEX-RN certified.

Each state regulatory board employs the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN), a common examination, to decide if a potential nurse licensee is qualified to take the exam. This exam will evaluate your understanding of various processes and safety protocols through multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, and matching questions. Programs are available from several test-prep companies to aid applicants in getting ready to take the NCLEX-RN.

To learn more about these companies and select a test preparation strategy that suits you, use a search engine. It could take up to six weeks to get your NCLEX-RN test outcomes after you take them. You can start looking for jobs as a registered nurse as soon as the nursing board in your state notifies you that you passed the exam.

4. Acquire experience as a licensed nurse

You must get registered nursing experience before you can work as a plastic surgery nurse. The majority of plastic surgery nurses begin their careers as registered nurses for a period of two to three years to lay a solid technical foundation for future career advancement. Before you may submit an application for certification for specialization as a plastic surgery nurse, you may be required to get a year of professional experience in cosmetic nursing. As a registered nurse, you can acquire experience in cosmetics through a variety of methods, such as:

  • Working in a medical spa facility with a plastic surgery nurse
  • Working in an outpatient surgery center with a plastic surgery nurse
  • Working beneath a board-certified medical professional with experience in cosmetic surgery

Licensed nurses can get experience by working in entry-level roles in clinics and hospitals with plastic surgeons. Being a nurse with surgical experience is in high demand, therefore having experience in an operating room might be helpful.

For CPSN certification, you must have completed at least 1,000 hours of clinical work.

5. Work toward being a certified aesthetic nurse specialist.

Many organizations prefer hiring applicants who have this specialty since it displays the competence to undertake cosmetic operations, even if obtaining an aesthetic nursing specialist certificate might not be necessary. Apply to sit for the Certified Aesthetic Nurse Specialist (CANS) exam offered by the Plastic Surgical Nursing Accreditation Board (PSNCB) to acquire your accreditation as an aesthetic nurse specialist. You can work with patients having cosmetic surgery and other aesthetic procedures if you pass this exam and can demonstrate that you have the expertise and knowledge required. To maintain their Certified Aesthetic Nurse Specialist certification, the PSNCB mandates that cosmetic surgery nurses take this exam once every three years.

6. Fill out job applications

You can apply for positions as plastic surgery nurses after passing this exam. To attract potential employers, write a well-written CV that emphasizes your abilities and qualities. Along with your pertinent professional experience, certificates, and state licenses, ensure that you list all of the formal education that you’ve received.

Utilize a search engine to look for plastic surgery nurse jobs after you’ve polished your CV. To find opportunities that fit your ideal location, skill level, and qualifications, you can modify your search options. You can also get in touch with any contacts you established in the professional world during your undergraduate studies or during your time working as a registered nurse in the past to see if they are aware of any clinics that are presently employing nurses for plastic surgery. It can help you stand out from other candidates if one of your industry contacts recommends you for a potential job.

Skills Required for a Plastic Surgery Nurse

The following crucial competencies can assist you in developing your profession as a plastic surgery nurse:

  • Communication abilities: It’s crucial to make sure the patient is relaxed and at peace. Effective plastic surgery nurses attentively listen to their patients’ issues and take note of nonverbal signs to recognize and address them. As a plastic surgery nurse, having strong communication skills can also help you explain a procedure’s intricacies to a patient in terms they can easily comprehend.
  • Dexterity: Plastic surgery nurses might require performing small-scale body procedures and giving non-invasive therapies. Dexterity is a crucial ability that can assist you in working safely and giving your patients the greatest aesthetic outcomes.
  • Compassion: Making patients feel at ease is a key component of a plastic surgery nurse’s job. You may assist your patients to feel more at ease and have a better experience by demonstrating compassion and understanding. Additionally, it might aid in developing a sense of confidence and rapport with your patients.
  • Detail-oriented: During the process, plastic surgery nurses could be in charge of keeping track of vital signs, giving anesthetic, and recording the proceedings with notes. Paying close attention to the little things will help you as a cosmetic surgery nurse to make sure your patient is safe, warn the surgeon of any potential issues, and accurately record the patient’s vitals.
  • Organization: Plastic surgery nurses are in charge of setting up the operating rooms, disinfecting the instruments, and setting them out for the surgeon to use. Being organized might make it simpler for the surgeon to locate the instruments they require and guarantee the process goes without a hitch.

Education for Plastic Surgery Nurses

To become a licensed registered nurse (RN), one must complete a nursing degree. Earning an ADN is the quickest path, but doing so can restrict employment options and growth potential.

Degree in ADN

The prerequisite for taking the NCLEX-RN exam and applying for an RN licensure is having earned an ADN.

The quickest way to become an RN is to complete the two-year degree, which prepares future nurses for practice. ADN credits may be transferred to a BSN or RN-to-BSN program, among other nursing programs.

  • Entry requirements: A GPA of 2.0 or above; a high school diploma or GED; ACT or SAT scores, a personal essay, and letters of recommendation
  • Curriculum for the Program: An overview of the nursing field, including nursing issues and nursing ethics, microbiology, completing health assessments, immunology, and nursing for certain patient categories (pediatrics, maternal, and medical-surgical patients).
  • Duration: two years
  • Learning Objectives: Providing safe, effective patient care in coordination with other medical professionals

A BSN degree

Although a candidate for a nursing license can be eligible for an ADN, many organizations prefer or demand that candidates possess a four-year nursing degree. A BSN degree encourages the growth of expert leadership, management, and informatics skills for nurses as well as critical thinking abilities.

  • Entry Requirements: High school graduation or GED, minimum 2.5–3.0 GPA, SAT or ACT scores, a personal essay, letters of recommendation, and volunteer work (for some nursing programs) are all required.
  • Curriculum for the Program: Anatomy and physiology, nursing informatics, pharmacology, leadership and management, research and statistics, psychology, and clinical nursing for safe, high-quality treatment of patients
  • Duration: Four years (or 12–18 months if enrolled in an expedited BSN program)
  • Skills Acquired: Adult and pediatric nursing care, community health promotion, leadership abilities for clinical settings, case management

Certification and Licensure for Plastic Surgery Nurses

To work, plastic surgery nurses have to be registered nurses (RNs) in their state of residence. For jobs where nurses carry out nonsurgical operations, some companies demand a higher-level practice nursing licensure.

In addition to having an ADN or a BSN, candidates for nursing must also pass the NCLEX-RN test and satisfy any additional state-specific criteria, such as background checks and fingerprints. Nurses have to complete continuing education in all but 11 states to renew their licenses.

While certification is not required, some businesses prefer it. Additional job alternatives and the possibility of increased pay are other potential benefits. A current RN license, two years of work experience, and 1,000 hours of hands-on training are prerequisites for both certificates.

What makes a good plastic surgery nurse?

Plastic surgery nursing is concerned with the care of patients who are undergoing cosmetic surgery to feel and look better. The correct nurse is necessary to help patients feel secure and at ease in their treatment because this might be a significant change. An effective plastic nurse must have empathy and compassion.

Patients getting a cosmetic procedure could be hypersensitive to a nurse’s expressions or facial emotions. To put patients at ease, plastic surgery nurses have to be friendly and compassionate.

The nurse who does plastic surgery should be meticulous. They ought to be able to spot issues during a process to support the surgeon in giving the patient the ideal result.

Having a job as a plastic surgery nurse

RNs who want to collaborate with plastic surgeons who operate in private practice, hospitals, or spa clinics can apply. Working as a medical-surgical nurse might help you obtain expertise in the operating room.

Noninvasive therapy administration may be taught on the job by some employers, or they may assist nurses in obtaining the further education and certification required. Through ongoing education, registered nurses can get certification to carry out particular treatments. As a result, they may have easier access to the market and job openings in the industry.

The duties and remuneration of plastic surgery nurses differ depending on the workplace.

The duties and remuneration of plastic surgery nurses differ depending on the workplace. For instance, a nurse employed by a private clinic may normally put in a 40-hour workweek, whereas a nurse employed by a hospital may put in 12-hour shifts, including weekend and evening hours.

The median annual income for registered nurses (RNs) was $77,600 as of May 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, even though it does not expressly publish wage information for plastic surgery nurses. According to Payscale, the typical hourly wage for a plastic surgery nurse in May 2022 is $32.

Where do nurses in plastic surgery work?

The following are just a few of the environments in which nurses with a focus on plastic surgery practice:

  • Private clinics
  • Operating rooms in hospitals
  • Clinics for non-patients
  • Burn hospitals
  • A dermatology clinic
  • Centers for outpatient surgical procedures
  • Specialty clinics for ear, nose, and throat (ENT)
  • Clinics for pediatric surgery
  • Health spas
  • Offices of plastic surgeons

What types of nurses work specifically in plastic surgery?

Plastic surgery nurses have even more options for specialization. Here are some particular subcategories of plastic surgery nurses:

  • Aesthetic nurses: They apply injectables, carry out aesthetic procedures, fix flaws, or slow down the aging process.
  • Burn surgery nurses: They provide all facets of burn treatment for patients who are in the acute or reconstructive phases of burns.
  • Craniofacial surgery nurses: They work alongside physicians to perform numerous craniofacial procedures on the face, jaw, and neck.
  • Neuroplastic reconstructive nurses: They treat adult patients with facial or skull injuries, deformities, tumors, or trauma.

The typical day of a plastic surgery nurse

An eight-hour shift is common for a plastic surgery nurse’s day. In a busy practice, you might see up to 10 patients each day in an outpatient office environment where you will see patients. The speed of a plastic surgery nurse’s day is slower than in other settings, including inpatient, because plastic surgery operations are thought of as elective.

Patients are seen in the office for consultations, follow-up visits, or quick treatments. You might provide injectables for lip injections or cosmetic contouring as a plastic surgery nurse. There can be patient phone calls to make in addition to other administrative duties.

You might alternate “clinic days” with “surgery days” if you collaborate with a plastic surgeon who does procedures like rhinoplasty or abdominoplasty, depending on the timetable.

Giving patients a fresh appearance will fill every day with educational possibilities and emotionally satisfying activities.


Plastic surgery is not just for the wealthy and famous. Plastic surgeons treat people of all ages, providing both reconstructive and cosmetic operations. Alongside them, the nurses have a significant impact on assisting patients at every stage. You may assist patients in gaining more self-assurance with a profession as a plastic surgery nurse, regardless of if they decide to alter some aspect of their look.

Frequently Asked Questions about plastic surgery nurses

  • What is the typical training period for plastic surgery nurses?

The education needed to obtain a nursing license must be completed in at least two to four years (two for an ADN and four for a BSN). A minimum of two years of working experience as a plastic surgery nurse is required for nurses who want to get certified.

  • What kinds of nurses work in plastic surgery?

The majority of plastic surgery nurses are registered nurses (RNs), who are trained in both aesthetic and reconstructive treatments. Some nurses, also referred to as cosmetic nurses, choose to pursue accreditation as certified aesthetic nurse specialists.

Along with collaborating with doctors on more invasive operations, these nurses offer noninvasive cosmetic procedures like micro-needling, injections, body contouring, and tattoo removal.

  • What does a nurse in plastic surgery do?

Patients undergoing reconstructive or cosmetic surgery are looked after by plastic surgery nurses. These could be simple optional treatments like injecting Botox or more involved ones like reconstructing the face after a serious sickness or injury.

There is a widespread tendency toward making advanced degrees mandatory for nurses. A BSN is being considered as a requirement for first licensing in some states due to research showing that nurses with bachelor’s degrees or higher provide superior patient outcomes.

The preparation of patients and surgical rooms, assistance to the surgeon during operations, and rehabilitation following surgery, including wound treatment, are all tasks carried out by nurses. Some nurses who specialize in plastic surgery also provide nonsurgical care.

  • Which degree is the best for training as a plastic surgery nurse?

Although an ADN can be used to become a plastic surgery nurse, many businesses prefer to work with RNs who have a bachelor’s degree and are licensed.

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