Carmel Valley’s Dr. Robert Ferdowsmakan, the founder of Torrey Hills Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, has volunteered his time over the past five years to treat hundreds of patients with facial injuries free of charge at Rady Children’s Hospital.
Ferdowsmakan has found it incredibly rewarding to provide life-changing surgeries to children who are uninsured or underinsured after treatment for severe injuries or trauma.
A Phoenix native, Ferdowsmakan is the past chief of oral and maxillofacial surgery at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla and is the secretary/treasurer of the San Diego County Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Club. He is also a general anesthesia evaluator for the state of California.
Ferdowsmakan opted to go into the specialty of oral surgery after his first week of dental school at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine in 1996. It just took one lecture from an oral and maxillofacial surgeon for him to “fall in love” with the specialty.
He graduated from dental school with top honors and received his medical degree from the UC Los Angeles School of Medicine. He completed his surgical training and residency at UCLA Medical Center.
In 2005, he moved to Carmel Valley, where he opened his own practice.
“I always wanted to have my own private practice. We just reached our nine-year anniversary and we have grown tremendously since the first year,” Ferdowsmakan said. “We started out with no patients when we opened the doors. I met with dentists and physicians in the community, and fortunately it progressed quickly.”
The most common office-based surgeries Ferdowsmakan performs in his state-of-the-art center are impacted wisdom teeth, dental implants and corrective jaw surgeries.
Most minor surgeries can be done in the office, but more complex surgeries, typically trauma-based ones, are done at the hospital. He is on staff at Rady Children’s, Scripps Memorial and Sharp Mesa Hospital in Kearny Mesa.
One of the treatments he has a true passion for is corrective jaw surgery — for people with severe under- or overbites, and people with facial asymmetry.
“It’s a very gratifying type of surgery I can provide, to really make instantaneous benefits and changes for patients,” he said. “I describe it as life-changing, because it really is changing people’s lives for the better.”
To see someone fall in love with their new smile or see their face restored and confidence rebuilt after a traumatic injury is pretty amazing, he said.
Ferdowsmakan has been on staff at Rady since 2010, and is part of the rotational call panel of surgeons who come into the emergency department when patients arrive with traumas or injuries.
“I wanted to be a part of Rady to work with more of the pediatric population,” said Ferdowsmakan, father of a 2-year-old. “I very much enjoy working with kids.”
Through his pro-bono work at Rady, he has seen a wide variety of cases from sports injuries, falls from bicycles and scooters, and unfortunately, victims of violence.
“One stands out in my mind, a dog bite injury recently,” Ferdowsmakan said. “It’s something that I don’t think I’ll ever forget.”
The victim was an 11-year-old boy, and there were a lot of emotions at play after the attack by a family dog.
“He had a great result and a good recovery,” Ferdowsmakan said. “It’s a very dramatic experience as a surgeon to reassure a child that they will be OK, and that you will do your best to get them back to where they were.”
Another patient at Rady had been assaulted at school by older students. Ferdowsmakan helped repair his broken jaw.
At Rady, a high number of patients don’t have medical insurance, but Ferdowsmakan does the surgeries whether they can afford it or not. He writes off the surgeries and continues to see the patients in his office for post-op care.
“I do it just to be a part of the overall community, and do my small part to give back a little bit,” he said.
Besides his pro-bono work at Rady, for the past five years Ferdowsmakan has also volunteered with Fresh Start Surgical Gifts, an organization founded in San Diego in 1991 to perform surgeries on children who can’t afford the medical attention they need.
“It’s very rewarding,” Ferdowsmakan said. “They are both great organizations, and I hope to continue working with them for a long time.”
Visit torreyhillsoms.com or call 858-481-8248.