Plastic Surgery Nurse

What Is a Plastic Surgery Nurse?

The term plastic surgery nurse falls under an umbrella that's used to refer to aesthetic nurses and reconstructive surgery nurses. Although aesthetic nurses and reconstructive surgery nurses are both plastic surgery nurses, the two should be distinguished from one another. Reconstructive surgery nurses specialize is nursing care in the surgical specialty that involves the reconstruction or restoration of a patient's body. Reconstructive surgery is more than just a vanity procedure that has to do with aesthetics. Often this kind of surgery is absolutely necessary to improve or restore the proper function of a patient's body. Aesthetic or cosmetic nursing focuses not on the function of the body, but instead on the form. Aesthetic nurses are involved in caring for patients who are undergoing procedures like injections, fillers, liposuction, laser surgeries, chemical peels, microdermabrasion and others.

What Are Some Plastic Surgery Nurse Duties?

  • Making sure the surgical environment is safe and aseptic to avoid any infections/complications
  • Reviewing medical history and screening patients
  • Providing a caring, non-judgmental environment for patients who are undergoing cosmetic or reconstructive procedures
  • Assessing the overall health of patients which includes their psychosocial status
  • Administering intravenous or venipuncture therapy
  • Peri-operative management
  • Staying current with any cosmetic surgery standards, new procedures, or protocols
  • Educating patients and their families regarding post-operation expectations and healing process
  • Assisting during breast augmentation procedures, gender reassignment procedures, liposuction procedures, and more
  • Collaborating with physicians and other nurses
  • Administering treatments like chemical peels, Botox, or light and laser treatments
  • Scheduling reconstructive surgeries and cosmetic procedures
  • Preparing the operating room

Where Do Plastic Surgery Nurses Work?

Plastic surgery nurses can find employment in a variety of medical facilities, to include:

  • Private medical offices
  • Outpatient surgery clinics
  • Dermatology offices
  • Hospitals
  • Private organizations that specialize in plastic and/or reconstructive surgery

How to Become a Plastic Surgery Nurse

Those thinking about entering a plastic surgery nursing specialty should know that it requires a nursing degree (BSN is preferred), specialty certifications, and experience in the field. Those with a general medical-surgical background may find it easy to cross over into plastic surgery nursing, as well as those with a dermatology background (especially for aesthetics nursing positions).

Step 1: Educational Requirements

As mentioned above, those who are interested in the field of plastic surgery nursing must first obtain an ADN or BSN degree. Most healthcare organizations and medical offices prefer prospective employees to have earned a BSN. You will need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam after completing your degree to become licensed as an RN. To become licensed as a Certified Plastic Surgical Nurse (CPSN) or as a Certified Aesthetic Nurse Specialist (CANS), you will first need two years of experience as an RN, then you must complete 1,000 hours of nursing practice in a plastic/aesthetic surgery setting before a supervising physician endorses your certification application. The final requirement is to take and pass the certification examination.

Do Plastic Surgery Nurses Need an RN Degree?

To be either an aesthetic nurse or reconstructive surgery nurse, you first are required to become licensed as a registered nurse (RN). Once you have obtained your RN, you will then need to earn additional certifications in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery.

Step 2: Required Plastic Surgery Nurse Certifications/Credentials

Certification for plastic surgery nurses is carried out by the Plastic Surgical Nursing Certification Board (PSNCB), which is part of the American Society of Plastic Surgical Nurses. There are two certifications one can obtain to be considered a plastic surgery nurse: the Certified Plastic Surgical Nurse (CPSN) and the Certified Aesthetic Nurse Specialist (CANS).

To be eligible for certification as a Certified Plastic Surgical Nurse (CPSN), you must:

  • Have a current, unencumbered RN license
  • Have at least two years of plastic surgical nursing experience as a registered nurse within the last three years
  • Have a total of 1,000 practice hours in a plastic surgery nursing setting during the last two years
  • Successfully pass a certification exam

To be eligible for certification as a Certified Aesthetic Nurse Specialist (CANS), you must:

  • Possess a current, unencumbered RN license
  • Be employed under a doctor who is board-certified in Plastic/Aesthetic Surgery, Facial Plastic Surgery, Dermatology, or Ophthalmology
  • Have at least two years of nursing experience as an RN
  • Have a total of 1,000 hours of nursing practice in Plastic/Aesthetic Surgery, Facial Plastic Surgery, Dermatology, or Ophthalmology
  • Have the physician who supervises you endorse the application
  • Pass the certification test

Depending on the organization that you're working for, you made need additional certifications like Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) and/or a sedation certification.

Plastic Surgery Nurse Jobs, Salary & Employment

The availability of jobs and salaries for plastic surgery nurses will vary widely depending on the region they're working in. Certified Aesthetic Nurse Specialist (CANS) and Certified Plastic Surgical Nurse (CPSN) will have an easier time finding employment in larger metropolitan areas.

Job Description & Information

  • Essential Skills Needed - The ability to learn and adapt quickly, strong interpersonal communication skills, a high degree of empathy and sensitivity to patients' needs, must be able to communicate effectively with patients, surgeons, and other medical staff
  • Job Outlook - The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has predicted that the employment growth rate for plastic surgery nurses will grow approximately 16% between 2014 and 2024. Because there has been a large increase in the demand for cosmetic procedures, it's likely that the field will grow even more.

What Is the Average Salary of a Plastic Surgery Nurse?

ZipRecruiter lists the current average salary for plastic surgery nurses at around $64,796 nationwide, those this figure can vary due to location, employer, experience level, and more. Benefits packages will depend on the specific organization a plastic surgery nurse works for. Most plastic surgery nurses who are employed full time will receive insurance plans which include dental, medical, vision, and prescription coverage. Some paid time off each year is also the norm for this profession.

How Much Do Plastic Surgery Nurses Make per Year?

  • $22,500 – $116,000 annually

How Much Do Plastic Surgery Nurses Make per Hour?

  • $31.00 average hourly wage

Plastic Surgery Nurse Resources