Internationally recognized plastic surgeon Steven Cohen is a major contributor to aesthetic and cosmetic surgery of the face and body. In this enlightening interview, the surgeon, professor, artist and author shares his thoughts on the current state of plastic surgery, and what innovations we can expect next in this hot field.
What’s currently at stake in cosmetic surgery?
Dr Cohen says cosmetic surgery has long been associated with invasive operations such as liposuction and facelifts, procedures often linked to painful recovery, large hematomas and unnatural outcomes. But patients’ expectations have been evolving. “They now want to undergo surgery with no downtime and natural outcomes,” says Dr Cohen, whose natural, nuanced and artistic work is respected throughout the world by his peers and by his patients.
Dr Cohen’s subtle, refined outcomes are a reflection of his surgical philosophy: use less invasive procedures to “prevent” aging rather than traditional, invasive surgery to “treat” the effects of aging.
“Surgery becomes part of a continuum”
Cosmetic surgery should move “towards less surgery” and more prevention, anti-aging and minimally invasive treatments, says Dr Cohen. He envisions a “more intelligent application of surgery techniques” (like regenerative medicine) to gradually replace and rejuvenate aging tissues, skin and bone. Cohen explains that surgeons should choose more targeted interventions and use the right surgery for the patient’s anatomic findings.
There’s a real need for education for patients and surgeons. It’s a win-win for everyone.
– Dr Cohen
He thus believes that doctors should encourage and educate patients to keep up with the process of aging so they can fix things gradually as they begin to wear out. This way, he says, “surgery becomes part of a continuum” instead of a “unique and punctual intervention.” Dr Cohen’s vision is to encourage more surgeons to learn how to target the causes of aging, not just the visible results of aging.
As more surgeons embrace this paradigm, Dr Cohen predicts that expensive face interventions such as facelifts, will be replaced by multiple, smaller procedures that are tailored to the patient’s anatomic findings. For example, restoring the vascular supply to the patient’s skin may provide better, more natural results than a facelift could ever offer.
How can cosmetic surgeons re-invent their surgical practice?
Dr Cohen declares there are several ways to use innovation in one’s surgical practice. For instance, by tackling cases with a more holistic approach, developing anti-aging and prevention strategies. Both notions are interrelated and need to be treated as such.
The future of surgery lies in adopting a holistic approach of the patient.
– Dr Cohen
Dr Cohen also thinks that surgeons need to intelligently address the issues of the patients’ aging appearance. For example, surgery needs to stop favoring facelifts (since they don’t address the underlying bone deficiency but only skin laxity) and to find a way to take action on a the deeper cause, rather than the visible effects.
Finally, Dr Cohen explains that there’s a real need for education for patients and surgeons. In the case of skin laxity, if patients are well-educated about the need for prevention, and surgeons master anti-aging techniques, maybe people won’t get the same degree of laxity in their skin anymore. “It’s a win-win for everyone,” says Dr Cohen, “surgeons get solicited more often and clients don’t experience the same level of damage.”
Surgery training with Dr Cohen
Dr Cohen has been an invited speaker throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, South America and Australia and is an honorary member of the Royal College of Australian Surgeons. He has been an invited surgeon to a number of centers to demonstrate and teach regenerative surgery techniques. You can register for Dr Cohen’s upcoming courses on minimally invasive, “natural” cosmetic surgery by joining the Invivox medical training community.
Photo credits: Thenounproject.com (parkjisun)