La Jolla physician Steven Cohen has been recognized as one of the top plastic surgeons in America by Castle Connolly and Best Doctors Inc.
He received his plastic surgical training at the University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and completed a fellowship in Craniofacial and Facial Plastic Surgery at UCLA. He specializes in cosmetic and craniofacial surgery,
After working at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Cohen became the chief of Craniofacial Surgery and Surgical Director of the Craniofacial Center at Children’s Hospital of San Diego and founded FACESplus. He is involved in the Plastic Surgical Training program at the UCSD, where he serves as clinical professor and helps direct the Rady Children’s Hospital and UCSD Fresh Start Craniofacial Fellowship.
Cohen is known throughout the world for his contributions in the treatment of children with facial deformities and has spoken and taught around the world.
He and his wife, Sheri, are involved with a number of charities, including Fresh Start Surgical Gifts, where he has served on the Advisory Board and received the 2004 Founder’s Award for his work on children. They also support the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in La Jolla and are helping to lead a fundraising campaign to benefit the Center for Neuro-Craniofacial Surgery at Rady Children’s Hospital.
In addition, Cohen is a painter and sculptor, whose work is in a number of private collections and galleries. He and his wife have three children, Joshua, Hannah and Kate. A morning regular at Pannikin, he enjoys swimming, hiking and the outdoors.
What brought you to La Jolla?
I had come out to visit a close friend, Mike Sager, a writer for Esquire and a novelist. We also had come out for some medical meetings. Sheri and I fell in love with the sheer beauty of the place, the eclectic atmosphere and the small town feel of La Jolla and, of course, the weather. When I called around to see if there might be an opportunity, I was pleasantly surprised to find out I was welcomed. Joel Berger, an outstanding maxillofacial surgeon really convinced me that San Diego would be a great place to practice.
What makes La Jolla special to you?
A walk along the coast. A hike up the back of Soledad with my friends, the view from the top, a spiritual moment on the way, the view of the pier and North Shore, Pannikins. Meeting friends at Georges upstairs, the amazing variety of people and interests, the beauty of the sunsets, swimming the cove, north and west from the balcony at Azul, a whaler at the Whaling Bar, brunch with our family at La Valencia, hearing Fernando speak about Ferrari’s. Seeing Clint Eastwood around town. Windansea Beach, the amazing people I have met who live life to the fullest everyday.
If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in La Jolla?
A wider range of major traveling shows at the Museum of Contemporary Art and a waffle or pancake house.
Who or what inspires you?
My wife, Sheri, and our three kids, Josh, Hannah and Kate inspire me because of the kind of people they are. My patients inspire me because of their positive attitudes and the privilege of their trust. The complex craniofacial patients I care for at Rady because of their courage and ability to overcome dramatic obstacles.
Isamu Noguchi, the Japanese American artist - his sculptures demonstrate a purity of restraint and design that is magnificent. Albert Einstein’s quotes, which support the feeling that “few men see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts” or something like that.
If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?
My immediate family and closest friends, some of whom go back to my earliest childhood in Washington, D.C., and some who live in La Jolla and are more recent. Providing they were also warm, humble and self-deprecating, Albert Einstein, Isamu Noguchi, Warren Buffett would be invited and perhaps, Pablo Neruda, the Chilean poet. I might like to have Snoop Dog, Queen Latifah, Adam Sandler, Woody Allen, Jack Nicholson there.
What are you currently reading?
Mainly medical journals, business books. I do read Pablo Neruda’s poetry from time to time - hauntingly beautiful. They are almost like songs.
What is your most prized possession?
My health and family’s health, my creativity and love of innovation.
What do you do for fun?
Hang out with friends and laugh, hike, swim, dine with friends, fly in my friend’s plane.
Please describe your greatest accomplishment.
I am thrilled with the new center that Fresh Start Surgical Gifts has given to Rady and the craniofacial programs and was glad to be a part of the team that made this happen.
I am most proud of some of the advances in surgery that I have participated in or helped develop - making the first internal distraction device, which is marketed and sold by Stryker. This device helps lengthen facial bones in a less invasive fashion and has helped newborns with airway obstruction caused by a recessed lower jaw. This is now a routine procedure at most major children’s hospital in the U.S.
Our team at Rady helped develop minimally invasive, endoscopic surgical techniques to treat children with premature fusion of skull sutures and severe head deformities from a condition called craniosynostosis. These operations now take less then an hour and the children leave the hospital the next day.
What is your motto or philosophy of life?
It is not a dress rehearsal.