David L. Colen, MD, is a plastic and reconstructive surgeon who specializes in hand surgery and extremity reconstruction.
The best part of his job, Dr. Colen says, is restoring form and function to his patients, particularly to their hands.
“We all use our hands in our daily lives. The hand is a sensory organ that gives us information about our surroundings through touch, and also an implement for our brain to interact with our environment and carry out important tasks such as feeding ourselves, doing manual labor, tying our shoes, and so much more,” he says. “The hand is also a key component of communication that it is used not only for gesticulation and sign language, but also for typing and writing.”
Dr. Colen respects the complexity of the hand, which includes nerves, arteries, veins, muscles, tendons, and bones all within a small and intricate architecture. “As a hand surgeon, there is no problem too simple or too complex for me to treat, because for me, the challenge is not whether I can fix it—it’s whether I can help the patient return to their desired lifestyle and enjoy a happy and fulfilling life,” he says.
Dr. Colen treats conditions that are congenital (present at birth) or acquired as a result of trauma, infections, or cancer treatment. He is also skilled at lower extremity reconstruction and in using microsurgical techniques to transfer soft tissue in order to preserve and salvage limbs.
During his training, Dr. Colen participated in a series bilateral hand transplants, including the world’s first pediatric case. His research interests include methods of optimizing outcomes following traumatic and congenital hand reconstruction, and improving hand function after tendon injury or infection.
Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital