A doctor of unique standing

Benjamin (Ben) Talei is a very special man; he is a surgeon whose name you will recognized very soon. And he is about to open his two unique medical centers in Beverly Hills, California.

Dr. Benjamin (Ben) Talei

Dr. Benjamin (Ben) Talei

I got to know the Talei family, residing in Los Angeles, early this year and we have become instant friends. I recently met Ben in New York where his is both, teaching and constantly improving his surgical techniques, before heading to reside in Beverly Hills. I was beyond impressed with the man I met. Two hours with him confirms his all-round rareness.

From childhood as was told to me by his father:

“When Ben was in elementary school first grade, one day his teacher (Morah = teacher, in Hebrew, Shula) called me to school to show me one of Ben’s drawings on the assignment, ‘Draw Your Dream House!’

“He had drawn a detailed two-story house but the interesting part was that the garage was on the second floor. His Morah (teacher) Shula asked him: “Why did you put the garage on the second floor?”

BT: “Because when we go looking for a house, my father routinely expresses his dislike when he sees that the garage is right in front of the house. So, I hid it upstairs!”

MS: “Then how would you suggest taking the car up there to the garage, which is on the second floor?”
BT: “Oh! That’s simple. With an elevator!”

Ben was only six years old then, and Morah Shula gave us the first warning that he is beautifully unusual!
“And that’s how he turned out to be.

“He has an inherent Solomonic wisdom that has provided him with an understanding of goodness and independence. I say that not to blow my horns as a father, rather, to simply state how blessed I have been to have had witnessed his appearance and growth in my earthly life. He is a good surgeon and an excellent artist. His spiritual sides live in harmony with his physical parts.

“By the way, why not write an article about Ben to welcome him as good news for the Los Angeles community?”

And so I did. I picked up my pen and paper, called Ben, as I address him in this article, in New York, and here is my story about a person worthwhile knowing.

For the last several years, Ben has been getting as much sub-specialty training, as possible, while working – and having fun. When speaking with him, it seems to me that operating and helping people is not work or a job for him, rather a mean to obtain enormous gratification and joy. For several years, before developing his own techniques, Ben was on a non-stop search path to master and improve himself the techniques the leaders in his field use. After training at the Medical Centers of Columbia and Cornell Universities, Ben moved to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. From there he moved to join the New York Center for Facial Plastic & Laser Surgery, performing only facial cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. However, this was not enough for him, so, before returning to Beverly Hills, Ben decided to begin his work in Pediatric Facial Plastic Surgery and Vascular Anomalies at Lennox Hill and Manhattan Eye Ear And Throat Hospital (MEETH) in New York City.

Dr. Talei at work

Dr. Talei at work

Next step, Ben joined the Vascular Birthmark Institute of New York, as a full time volunteer, operating with his prior mentors, Dr. Milton Waner and Dr. Teresa O. This leading institute in the world treats children and adults with the rarest vascular anomalies and facial deformities. Dr. Waner is considered the forefather in the treatment of vascular birthmarks and patients come to the institute from all over the world to receive the most effective and difficult treatments. Upon his return to Los Angeles Ben will incorporate these methods into his Hemangiom & Vascular Birthmark Practice. For general knowledge, there are less than a handful of centers in the United States equipped to deal with the more difficult anomalies.

Dr. Talei with his staff

Dr. Talei with his staff

Dr. Talei is Board Certified in surgeries of the head & neck and a true sub-specialist after having completed two separate fellowships in Facial Cosmetic & Reconstructive Surgery as well as Pediatric Facial Plastic Surgery and Vascular Anomalies. He specializes in advanced facelift techniques, rhinoplasty (nosejob), and minimally invasive facial rejuvenation as well as hemangiomas, vascular birthmarks, and facial deformities.

Dr. Talei makes an ear for a patient

Dr. Talei makes an ear for a patient

The plan

Ben has now decided to move his practice and open two centers in Beverly Hills (BH), California, in October 2014. The Beverly Hills Center for Plastic & Laser Surgery will focus on Facial cosmetics and reconstruction performing advanced facelifting, rhinoplasty, reconstruction and more while the Center for Hemangiomas & Vascular Anomalies will care for children and adults with surgical, medical and laser treatments.

Apart from being a specialty doctor, Ben truly loves life and exerts the utmost of it. He is a great cook, who happens to have a mile-long list of his own recipes; he is an artist of stone sculptures, pencil sketching and upholstery work; he is a piano player and composer, writing music since he was 12 years old; he races cars and boats; he used to work as a Ski Patrol, and his latest “gig” is fund raising, organizing a cross country drive for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. (http://www.ncadv.org/)

I asked Ben, “How do you find the time for all your activities?”

His answer was, “I sleep less.”

“What is about plastic surgery that you love so much?” I asked.

“It is fun and engaging. You never do the same surgery twice. Everyone looks at medicine from a morbid perspective, I don’t. For me, plastic surgery is very engaging because each patient looks different and you have to have an artistic eye to really see what needs to be done for the patient. More importantly, you need the necessary skills to actually implement what your eyes see and to do what you promised the patient. I never analyze a patient in my head unless they ask me to. When I do, I try think of every single tiny issue that I could, which would make that patient happy. If a surgeon cannot put himself/herself in the patient’s shoes and doesn’t have the right eye, skill, or flexibility to do what the patient needs – or wants – the interaction might not be successful. It took me a very long time and a lot of work and understanding, but I have managed to develop the skills necessary to implement what many other doctors cannot do. I love the cosmetic aspect of my work because it is challenging; I like the reconstruction because I’m very familiar with facial deformities having a huge negative affect on someone’s quality of life, and I love the pediatric aspect because I love kids and I realize that if I do not treat them, only few others can do for them what they need. A parent may be afraid to seek treatment for their child’s facial deformity, but it is my duty and job to help them understand the benefits and consequences of treating, or not treating, and help them understand how their child, in all likelihood, be able to interact differently with the world.”
“To be a good surgeon, you truly have to understand people first, and how they interact with the world around them.”

Dr. Talei with a patient

Dr. Talei with a patient

Fundraising Drive

On September 29th, 2014 Ben, joined by his brother Nathan, will be driving Ben’s Mini Cooper S, which has been designed by Ben and is now all dressed up for the occasion. They will drive from New York to Miami and from Miami to Los Angeles to raise awareness and funds for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence Organization. The goal is to collect at least $15,000 and to have supporters and drivers join them along the way. All advertising is done through social media, while the vehicle graphic wrap, the professional videographry and photography were all donated. Since Ben loves cars so much he is hoping that along the way supporters will come join them for events and drive along with them and the fundraising goal will turn exponentially higher.

NCADV Drive Against Domestic Violence – Beverly Hills Center for Plastic & Laser Surgery

Applying his own specialty

Ben worked with many specialists and has learned from the best of the best. During his residency and 2nd fellowship Ben trained with the top and most renowned doctors in these fields and over time he added and developed his own taste and techniques. Now, recognizing his talent, these top specialists are asking Dr. Talei for his advice. Because, Dr. Ben Talei is rather opinionated and critiques, he develops, enhances, improves and constantly changes his work, by continuously developing and improving what he knows well so he can be the best in his fields, and perhaps even better than the best.

Changing lives

For a long while Dr. Ben Talei has been changing the world, one patient at the time in the United States as well as in many places in the world, servicing places like Honduras, Ecuador and Colombia.

“To us,” says his father, “the trips to remote places, is all nerve racking, to him, it is what he needs to do. There is that amazing story about the young girl in Honduras who was shot repeatedly and Benny (as his father calls him) ‘fixed her up.’ Or the line of people seeking his healing hands and skills, in Colombia, while he was being guarded by almost 20 armed men.”

Dr. Talei on the HUGS (Help Us Give Smiles) mission to Quito, Ecuador

Dr. Talei on the HUGS (Help Us Give Smiles) mission to Quito, Ecuador

When we met in New York, I was privy to have seen some of Dr. Talei’s work, in photos he took. I understood perfectly well what I have written about, above.

Dr. Ben Talei’s goal is to change many more peoples’ life, behind the surgery mask in Beverly Hills. For him, although he may not always be lifesaving, his goal is to help as many people as possible by life-changing.

I close with my personal welcome of Dr. Benjamin (Ben) Talei back home, to be close to his parents, and siblings, and I bestow his many talents on the Los Angeles, community. In time the community will be thankful he returned home and he is one of us again.