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Steven H. Dayan, MD, FACS: A Difference-maker

By: Cathy Christensen
Posted: January 28, 2010, from the November 2009 issue of
Dr. Steven H. Dayan and a student practice injections.

As the father of three daughters, Dayan believes many of the lessons he has learned in his practice have made him a better parent. Photography by Michelle CD Mueller, Michelle CD Mueller Photography

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After graduating again near the top of his class in medical school, Dayan struggled to choose a specialty. “I decided to become a neurosurgeon because I thought it was the pinnacle of the pinnacle, and I called a doctor I have respected for a long time and asked for a recommendation on where I should go. His advice: ‘Absolutely do not become a neurosurgeon.’ He said I was romanticizing it and pointed out that my lifestyle would never get better, and my patients would always get sick and die. It’s not a happy field,” Dayan says.

As a person with a vibrant creative side, Dayan had long dabbled in art and sculpture, leading him to consider plastics, which he eventually chose by studying otolaryngology first. “Plastics is the last field in medicine where you can really be creative,” he says.

A big impact

Although Dayan is one of the best in his field, he didn’t rise to the top on his surgical skills alone. The combination of his leadership ability, marketing know-how and altruistic personality have resulted in his becoming a medical and business powerhouse. Dayan is an international lecturer, a national physician educator and has achieved double board certification by both the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the American Board of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery. He also heads up five different companies: his facial plastic surgery practice; True Skin Care Center, which offers aesthetic skin care services, and True University, providing advanced education programs for estheticians and students; the College of Cosmetic Medicine, offering aesthetic medicine education to physicians; IF Marketing, a complete marketing firm; DeNova Research, specializing in aesthetic medicine; and perhaps his most unique venture, Enhance Educational Foundation, a nonprofit educational charity he created to promote the ongoing education of students in the Chicago Public School (CPS) system.

Through this foundation, Dayan donates a $25,000 scholarship every year to a deserving student and provides additional smaller scholarships, as well. “I wanted to provide a big scholarship because I wanted to make an impact,” he says, and he also opens his office to an internship program that allows students to spend time there shadowing him and his staff to get an idea about what medicine is like. “When the students are here, I ask them if they ever thought about practicing medicine, and many say they didn’t think it was possible. But when they leave, they do think it’s possible and it makes me feel good,” Dayan says.

With that inspiring feeling driving the way, he also believes in the power education has to improve the world. “Education is the key to getting ahead, and it’s the key to inner growth. People who are educated typically aren’t racist or bigoted; education destroys all prejudices,” he says, and his attempts to foster education don’t stop within the Chicago city limits. In fact, Dayan has recently set his sights on building a school in Cambodia where, on a recent visit, he says he simply became affected by the conditions. “I couldn’t believe these people who lived in utter poverty, and the only thing keeping the kids from being educated was the lack of a physical structure,” he explains. He hopes the project will become a reality in the near future.

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