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An inside look at CSF 2019


Dr. Joel Schlessinger prides himself on creating an interactive and open discussion opportunity at Cosmetic Surgery Forum, and he says his reasoning is simple: Why speculate when the experts are in the room?

Joel Schlessinger, M.D.

Dr. Schlessinger

It was the 11th year of Cosmetic Surgery Forum (CSF), and its first year in Nashville, Tenn., and founder Joel Schlessinger, M.D., Omaha, Neb., continues to facilitate every presentation, engaging with the audience and asking the hard questions.

“If there's a part of the lecture that I think maybe the audience is struggling with, or might struggle with, or might have a question about, I'm going to amplify it at the end,” he says.

Known to be a highly interactive conference environment, Dr. Schlessinger says it’s one of the reasons he thinks CSF is so successful.

“We have… a wealth of ideas, a wealth of experience [and] a wealth of knowledge in the room,” he says.

Dr. Schlessinger recalls calling upon physicians sitting in the audience at CSF to ask their expertise on a discussed topic.

At this year’s CSF, “We were talking about parabens and the fact that [they’re] being taken out of everything, and we asked [Matthew Zirwas, M.D.] what his thought on it was,” he says. “He responded that parabens are the non-allergen of the year.”

Parabens, Dr. Zirwas pointed out, are the safest and most effective of the available preservatives.

“The problem is that we're taking parabens out of products to please a public sentiment, but in reality, they're an extraordinarily useful tool, and nothing does it as well as parabens, so we had that great discussion.”

Dr. Schlessinger says that some of his favorite presentations this year surround inclusivity.

“Obagi started out the day with a lecture on inclusiveness and their Skinclusion program,” he says.

The program, designed to help individuals recognize unconscious biases in the name of safe and effective skin treatments, places particular emphasis on Fitzpatrick skin types IV to VI, “and explaining how that system can work for them,” says Dr. Schlessinger.

Another standout discussion for Dr. Schlessinger that focused on inclusion was Doris Day, M.D.’s presentation on hormones and transitioning patients.

“We had a great discussion about transgender patients and what we're doing for them because a lot of times, we're stumped when it comes to a patient that might have a particular problem that is new,” he says.


CSF’s multi-disciplinary approach with David Goldberg, M.D., and Dr. Day generated engaging discussion about specific gender rejuvenation devices. 

“There's just so much in that area that is new in dermatology and that we're looking at making part of our armamentarium,” says Dr. Schlessinger.

And the conference’s prescribed interactivity was highlighted in Dr. Schlessinger’s own presentation, “Is Sunscreen Safe?” with diverse opinion voiced from the audience about reef safety and whether chemical-based sunscreen should be banned for use on children.

“We got a chance to have people speak their opinion, decide whether they feel like we ought to approach sunscreens a little differently,” he says. “But it was a great collegial discussion and one that I think helped people come to a different opinion in some cases or validate their own opinion. It was really exciting to see the room come alive for that.”

Above all, Dr. Schlessinger is aware of the role CSF plays in continuing the education of physicians on new and exciting topics and technologies in the specialty.

“So many people are looking for it, but the knowledge hasn't been available in one particular place,” he says. “We're… bringing it together.”

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