Founder & Chairman – Medical Director Emeritus

In 1988, R. Merrel Olesen, MD founded La Jolla Cosmetic Surgery Centre & Medical Spa to meet the unique needs of the cosmetic surgery patient. He wanted to create a special place where doctors, nurses and administrative staff work as a team to not only provide quality surgical results but also a wonderful patient experience. Today, La Jolla Cosmetic is one of the premier cosmetic surgery practices not only in San Diego, but is known nationally for the quality of its patient care and communication. Readers of the San Diego Union-Tribune have voted the La Jolla Cosmetic Surgery Centre & Medical Spa as San Diego’s Best 20 times since 2008.

Dr. Olesen is known for his industry-transforming work in patient and peer education. LJC began patient satisfaction surveys in the late 1980’s and determined that cosmetic patients wanted more information and better communication. Dr. Olesen then authored informed consent and patient communication materials that have been translated into five languages and are being used by over 1100 plastic surgeons in the U.S. and around the globe.

With his wife Marie, a nationally known cosmetic surgery consultant, Dr. Olesen authored Cosmetic Surgery For Dummies, a guidebook for cosmetic surgery consumers.

To enable La Jolla Cosmetic and other plastic surgery practices to improve patient education and communication, Dr. Olesen also founded a cosmetic surgery software and consulting company, Inform Solutions, which was acquired in 2003 by Mentor Corporation, the industry leader in aesthetic medical devices.

Dr. Olesen is also noted for his volunteer work at La Mesa Penitentiary in Tijuana Mexico, where for ten years, he donated his reconstructive surgical skills to prisoners with congenital or acquired deformities. He worked with Sister Antonia Brenner, an American Catholic nun who is known worldwide for her work in this prison. He and his wife Marie continue to support her work to this day.

Dr. Olesen appeared on “Good Morning America” and numerous television and talk shows. He has also been featured on programs prepared by the BBC in both England and Australia. National print coverage has included Parade, USA Today and Harper’s Bazaar.

Prior to founding La Jolla Cosmetic, Dr. Olesen was head of Plastic Surgery at Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation for eight years. He holds dual board certifications from the American Board of Medical Specialties in Plastic Surgery and Otolaryngology (head and neck surgery). Dr. Olesen completed surgical residencies at the University of Michigan and Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, NYC. He attended medical school at Loma Linda University where he was a member of Alpha Omega Alpha, compromised of the top 10% of medical students. Dr. Olesen, a former president of the San Diego Plastic Surgery Society, has been a clinical instructor for plastic surgery at the University of California at San Diego since 1970.

Dr. Olesen retired from active practice in 2005. He continues to be interested in the Centre and misses his colleagues and wonderful staff. He serves as Chairman of the Board at La Jolla Cosmetic. He maintains a keen interest in what is happening at LJC and how to continue its rich traditions of quality patient care and excellent communication.

Dr. Olesen is enjoying retirement with his wife, Marie and their dogs, Bingo and Yogi. Dr. Olesen loves playing duplicate bridge, reading, and playing golf. He studied in France as a youth and keeps his French up-to-date with regular participation in a French conversational group. He is the proud father of three and grandfather of two granddaughters who attend UCLA and UC Berkley.