What Jazz Music and Plastic Surgery Have In Common, According to Dr. Steven Fagien

Dr. Steven Fagien

Many famous musicians have flown to Boca Raton, Florida, to meet with Dr. Steven Fagien — but not necessarily for an eyelid consultation or surgery. Sure, at the office, the board-certified plastic surgeon specializes in blepharoplasty. But, outside of the operating room, the father of three has a very special interest in jazz.

In 2012, Dr. Fagien, 62, and his identical twin brother Michael (also a physician), opened Jazziz, a jazz club in Boca Raton’s Mizner Park. “We wanted to do something great for the community,” he says. “We had amazing acts — including Brian McKnight, Jefferson StarshipTM, ABBA® — people couldn't believe we would bring to a relatively small club in Boca Raton.”

While the venue has since closed, not all was lost in the nightlife experience. Dr. Fagien still enjoys playing guitar in his spare time, and he realized something important about his professional life. “My strong suit was my practice, and what I do every day,” he says.

In his day-to-day life, Dr. Fagien has mastered the art of fixing eyelids and administering injectables. The Boca Raton-based doctor, who attended the University of Florida℠ for undergraduate, medical school, and his ophthalmology residency, has written a textbook about oculoplastic surgery and given more than 1,000 presentations about his techniques and best practices. He transparently admits, though, that other departments of maintaining a practice — such as social media — aren’t his forte. Every so often, his middle child, 28-year-old Alyssa — who has amassed hundreds of thousands of followers on her @atl_bucketlist Instagram® — will give him advice about photography. Despite being a proud dad and admiring her hustle as CEO and founder of Atlys Media℠, a social media and marketing consultancy, Dr. Fagien hasn’t asked his daughter to help him out. Read on to find out why, learn about the patients he finds most challenging, and how traveling makes him incredibly grateful.

Spotlyte: Did you always want to be a plastic surgeon?

Dr. Steven Fagien: When I went through medical school, I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do. I trained first in ophthalmology. I was always one of the guys that tended to be a leader, not a follower. I would give grand rounds, where you have a meeting every week and you present difficult cases. I would draw things on the board — elegant, elaborate drawings of the point I was trying to make, or a difficult problem that a patient had.

Spotlyte: You had a knack for aesthetics.

SF: Interestingly, the University of Florida faculty knew it before I even realized that's what I wanted to do. I trained in ophthalmology and realized that's not what I wanted to do.

Spotlyte: What inspired you to switch from ophthalmology to oculoplastic surgery?

SF: Even though I thought it would be an interesting combination of medicine and surgery, it really was very routine — a lot of duplicity. It wasn't as challenging and rewarding as when I did things that were more artistic, like plastic surgery.

Spotlyte: If you weren't in medicine, what would you be doing?

SF: I'd be in the music business, without a doubt. Producing music. 

Spotlyte: Why not be a musical artist?

SF: I'm not a great musician, even though some people think I'm pretty good. I like the art of music. I like how things get put together. It's part of the way I'm wired. I've been really lucky to meet some of the greatest singers, musicians, [and] vocalists on the planet.

Spotlyte: Having owned a jazz club with your brother, who are some famous musicians you’ve rubbed elbows with?

SF: Josh Groban and Michael Bublé — all these guys. Mostly because we had a club, but just because it's my passion and they know it. They think it's cool what we did! They’d [also] say, “God, plastic surgery, that's so cool.” I’d say, "No, what you do is really cool."

Spotlyte: Speaking of what you do day-to-day, what does a day in your shoes entail? 

SF: I've limited my surgical practice to two full days a week now. When I operated three days a week, the wait time to get in for injectables was three months, which is unacceptable for people. Adding that extra day for injectables — at least four days a month — brought the wait time to six weeks, eight weeks max. 

My patients make their next injectables appointment when they leave, so it's never a problem for my existing patients to get in.

Spotlyte: What is the most popular treatment or procedure in your office?

SF: I do blepharoplasty, eyelid surgery. It’s the procedure that I'm known for. That's number one. They come to get their eyes done. 

Other than that, I have an injectables practice. For injectables, the number one requested procedure is injectable wrinkle reducer, despite the fact that most of my patients get both fillers and injectable wrinkle reducers.

Editor's Note

Injectable wrinkle reducers are used to temporarily smooth the look of moderate to severe wrinkles in certain areas of the face such as the forehead, frown lines, and crow’s feet. They should not be used more frequently than every three months. Like any medical treatment, they have potential risks and side effects. Be sure to talk to a licensed provider to see if they’re right for you. 

Spotlyte: Do you administer a lot of filler as well?

SF: It's close now, with fillers. It's really right on [injectable wrinkle reducers’] tail.

Spotlyte: Do you personally get any fillers or injectables done?

SF: I do not. I've never had a needle poked in my face.

Spotlyte: What percentage of patients are coming to you for injectables?

SF: Half of patients. It's a lot. I realized back in the ‘80s and early ‘90s that the injectable world [of collagen] was just about to explode, but most people hadn't embraced it. I was an early adopter of all [injectables].

Spotlyte: Do you find that, because you're in Florida, squinting from the sun is causing wrinkles and eyelid issues?

SF: Yeah. There's a lot of animation, a lot of sunlight, and a lot of ambient light — and people do tend to squint. It's not unique to Florida. It's in California, or any place where it's sunny all the time. There are more wrinkles, more sun exposure, and more dyschromia [a.k.a. skin discoloration].

Spotlyte: What about your job excites you the most?

SF: Happy patients. When somebody is really happy with what you've done for them, it brings a different kind of feeling that is way beyond financial success. 

I have a lot of [patients] who come in with baggy eyelids. They have low self-esteem. Some of the most incredible successes were transforming these young women into very self-assured people with high self-esteem, who feel real good about themselves and are more outgoing. 

Spotlyte: What’s an important aspect of your job that is commonly overlooked?

SF: I take painstaking maneuvers to make sure I advise people if they ask for my advice. You sit with them, you talk, and you hear what their concerns are: what they want to look like, and what they expect out of whatever procedure you're doing. It's such a simple, very fundamental thing.

If you don't listen to them, then you're not necessarily doing things that make them happy. You're doing things that you think are going to make them happy, because you've missed the [proper] diagnosis. You have to listen. You have to engage with them. You have to communicate. 

Spotlyte: What is the most challenging part of your job?

SF: The difficult patients are the ones previously operated on, with problems that are not completely fixable. 

Body dysmorphia is a problem, [too], which I spend a lot of time with. I'm not there to counsel them, other than regarding surgery, but sometimes you just have to tell someone that you don't think that surgery is in their best interest. That's a hard thing to do. 

On the business side, people feel like they want to capture everyone, and they don't realize that is not in the patient's best interest. Ultimately, for you and your reputation at your practice, it's not in your best interest either.

Spotlyte: Other than music, what else do you like to do in your spare time?

SF: I like to spend a lot of time with my kids. I enjoy traveling for pleasure, mostly visiting my kids — Samantha, 30, Alyssa, 28, and Kayla, 23 — and going places with them.

I get asked to speak at a lot of meetings around the world, on [almost] every continent. I'm able to go and visit these places, and enjoy visiting a different culture.

One of the things I've learned about traveling is that I have a greater appreciation of how wonderful it is here in the U.S. You don't necessarily appreciate what we have that others wish they had: just being able to walk down the street and feel safe, and that we actually have traffic regulations and rules, and people that watch how you drive. I've been to countries where you don't want to step anywhere near the road.

Spotlyte: Where have you traveled to recently?

SF: I love Australia. Sydney is one of my favorite places. I love Europe, and I've been all throughout Europe. I was just in Brazil. I love the people. 

Spotlyte: Have any of your daughters followed in your footsteps?

SF: Samantha, 30, is an ICU nurse educator in Dallas. Kayla, 23, is getting her Master’s in Business at the University of Florida. Alyssa, 28, worked for a marketing firm in Atlanta, and did a lot of social media for them. Then, she started her Instagram @ATL_bucketlist. She blogs about food and restaurants, and fun things to do in Atlanta. 

Spotlyte: Has your daughter Alyssa taught you anything about social media?

SF: Yes. She thinks I'm a dinosaur. We'll take a picture of all the kids, and she'll go, "Dad, what kind of angle is that?" She goes, "Dad, you are such a bad photographer. This is how you take a picture.” She tries to give me lessons. It hasn't worked.

Spotlyte: Does she do your social media?

SF: No, she doesn't. With all the things she needed to do to grow her business, I didn't want to bog her down by taking care of her dad.

Dr. Steven Fagien is a paid Allergan® consultant.