Esthetician Career | Oncology Esthetician
A cancer diagnosis can spell irreversible physical and mental changes to a person’s life. Although new treatments and better medications continue to improve outcomes, the process of getting well still takes its toll on patients -- especially their skin. If you’re interested in earning your cosmetology license to become a professional esthetician, you may be interested in oncology esthetics, a growing specialty in med spas and clinics around the country.
As cancer treatments become more targeted, consensus grows among health experts that patients need whole body care to achieve more complete recoveries. For example, chemotherapy is supposed to kill abnormal cells and thwart the growth of new ones. But it also leaves skin on other parts of the body red and itchy -- even peeling off. Doctors and surgeons have to focus on beating the disease. But patients’ questions and concerns about their post-cancer bodies can linger long after wounds heal and specialists are out of the picture.
Patients who have a multidisciplinary treatment team that includes an oncology esthetician will benefit at every stage of their experience. Once there’s a diagnosis and a treatment plan in place, the team esthetician can tell the patient how treatment may impact their body and answer any questions. When treatment is underway, the esthetician can watch for changes in skin color or dryness and suggest ways to reduce swelling, peeling and other discomforts.
When a patient completes treatment and begins rehabilitation, their esthetician can monitor the healing process and watch for potential complications. Depending on the season, the esthetician might also make suggestions for protecting potentially fragile skin, such as reminders to wear sun hats and use only specific sunscreen SPFs.
If oncology esthetics appeals to you as a career path, don’t overlook how other areas of cosmetology training might be relevant to your skill set. Take hair styling. If you’re focused on skin care, wigs are probably an afterthought. But chemotherapy patients often wear wigs. Are you comfortable fitting them? What do you know about wig manufacturers and how they rank in quality? Could you shop for a wig by yourself? If not, are local services available that can come to you?
What about nail care? Professional manicures won’t repair nail damage from cancer treatments, but they can make a patient feel better about their appearance and less self-conscious about getting out in public. As an esthetician, nail care won’t be your primary focus. However, it’s a good idea to keep in mind where specific skills might dovetail with your overall training if you decide to become an oncology esthetician.
If you’re interested in helping cancer patients recover from treatment side effects and regain their self-confidence, find an esthetics school near you and ask whether it offers oncology esthetics coursework. Your training could lead to a rewarding career helping cancer patients cope with treatment and find the strength to mentally and physically reclaim their lives.