Artistry and Innovation: This Plastic Surgeon Continues to Break New Ground in Medicine An accomplished artist, author, inventor, and one of the top plastic surgeons in America, Dr. Steven Cohen continues to change the world of medicine and surgery, creating new techniques and devices that have become the gold standard in his field
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By Dr. Steven Cohen's own account, he was not a successful student growing up. Diagnosed with dyslexia at a young age, Cohen struggled through elementary and high school, eventually leaving altogether to attend a military school. However, those early challenges served to open his eyes to a different way of looking at the world – and that has made all the difference in his professional career.
An accomplished artist, author, inventor, and one of the top plastic surgeons in America, Dr. Cohen continues to change the world of medicine and surgery, creating new techniques and devices that have become the gold standard in his field.
What drives someone who has already achieved so much?
"That is just the way I have approached life," Dr. Cohen says. "I know that we are going around one time, not multiple times, so I don't want to miss anything if I can avoid it."
Contributions to Craniofacial Surgery
Before focusing on aesthetic and cosmetic surgery, Dr. Cohen made major contributions to the treatment of children born with facial deformities. One of his most important breakthroughs came in the mid-1990s with the invention of the world's first commercially distributed internal distraction system, a revolutionary tool that fundamentally changed the approach to craniofacial surgery.
"Children born with recessed jaws used to have a tracheostomy if they couldn't breathe, and that would be in for a minimum of two years with an average of 8-9 hours a day of respiratory care by the parents," Dr. Cohen explains.
"What we did was cut the jaw and put in these little distraction devices that gradually turned a millimeter a day. New bone fills in the gap, and that allows us to safely advance the jaw in a 1-week-old infant. I did the first one ever in the world in 1997, and it is now the gold standard."
His work did not stop there, however. At the time, surgeons were performing procedures that required them to move the entire face mask forward, a long and complicated surgery that required bone grafts from other parts of the body.
"Oftentimes, the space created between the covering of the brain, called the dura, and the undersurface, now has bone that has lost its blood supply because we cut it and moved it," Dr. Cohen says.
"That space was prone to infection, so there was a 10% mortality rate for these kids. With the slow movement forward of the mask using my devices, the mortality rate is now 1%."
Innovations in Plastic Surgery
For the past decade, Dr. Cohen has focused his efforts on plastic surgery and aesthetics, continuing to develop new solutions with groundbreaking equipment and procedures at the world-class Faces Plus. He was one of the first adopters of the fractional laser, which has since become common practice in clinics across the country.
He also developed breakthroughs in adipose derived stem-cells, fat grafting and cell rejuvenation, including the invention of the Lipocube Nano, which processes fat grafts and optimizes cells, creating a more youthful appearance as well as healthier tissue.
His revolutionary methods have been adopted and practiced by clinicians and providers around the world – although each person may be "going around one time" in life, Dr. Cohen has created a legacy that will last for generations.
And despite his massive achievements and contributions to the field, he is still not done innovating.
The Artist at Work
For Dr. Cohen, much of his drive and joy comes from the creative process itself. It empowered him to find unorthodox solutions to overcome dyslexia in school, led him to impressive breakthroughs in surgery and medicine, and influences his work and art today.
He sees the world differently, he says, often with the eye of an artist, connecting different ideas in new and interesting ways until he has created something entirely transformative.
"It all stems out of creativity, it is even the same in painting," Dr. Cohen says. "I have learned to allow myself to remain open-minded and I guess in some ways childlike, rather than saying, that's a bad drawing. It allows things to bubble up almost accidentally."
As he continues to influence the worlds of both art and medicine, Dr. Cohen has come to see that the struggles he endured in his youth have evolved to become some of his greatest strengths, allowing him to perceive insights and opportunities where others might cling to old models.
"I think I have this creativity as a result of having learning disabilities and dyslexia," Dr. Cohen says. "As a kid, they were a terrible curse. But as an adult, I have embraced it more and more, because I realized that I am actually bringing new things to the world rather than copying something old."
To learn more about Dr. Cohen's work and practice, please visit www.facesplus.com.