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Steven Fagien, MD, FACS: His Vantage Point

By: Cathy Christensen
Posted: March 4, 2010, from the March 2010 issue of
Dr. Steven Fagien injecting a patient

Fagien specializes in only two procedures: cosmetic eyelid surgery and injectables. Photography by Steve Levine/Steady70

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Although he spends plenty of time with his patients, Fagien also finds the time to write, a talent of his he’s practiced, becoming a published author on the topics of plastic surgery—and jazz. Fagien’s twin brother began JAZZIZ magazine during their college years, and it is now one of the top jazz publications in the world. “I wrote for the magazine for awhile,” says Fagien. “I wasn’t good at it, though. I can write, but it is much easier for me to write about plastic surgery.” And he does; Fagien has authored more than 300 articles in his field. “Being in private practice somewhat removes you from academia, and writing helps me stay involved,” he says. Fagien also is the author of the book Putterman’s Cosmetic Oculoplastic Surgery (Elsevier, 2008), an honor that was bestowed on him by his former professor and mentor, Putterman.

Writing isn’t his only passion, or even his primary one, however—that honor belongs to his wife and three daughters. Although he admits maintaining balance can be a challenge due to professional obligations, he is grateful to have enjoyed a calmer period of time when his children were younger.

“Fortunately, the times when I was growing my practice and I was less busy, my kids needed me the most and I was around much more. When they got to be teenagers and didn’t really care if I was around as much was about the time I started traveling quite a bit,” he says. One appointment that still rarely gets canceled though is Fagien’s nightly dinner at home with his family. “That’s a really special time. We’ve done it for 20 years, and that we never compromised.”

Fagien’s secret to maintaining personal and professional balance? “You pick and choose. You prioritize and figure out what’s important,” he says, and one of the things that helps Fagien keep this balance is making ample time to get away with his family. “I like going away and sometimes doing absolutely nothing,” he shares, saying he does see a time when he will be ready to hang up the day-to-day responsibilities of his practice—but not for quite awhile.

“I think sometimes surgeons need to retire,” he laughs. “I think you have to realize when it’s time to call it quits. I am very hopeful that I am as good at 70 as I am in my 50s, but I’m not sure I will be. I have a lot of colleagues that I respect, and we’ve promised each other that we would tell each other when that day comes.”

A feeling of accomplishment