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Excellence in Plastic Surgery in a Tropical Paradise
a profile of Dr. Carlos Gomez by Bob Cohen

While still in high school, a near fatal injury and successful reconstructive surgery inspired Gomez to become a plastic surgeon - a decision that changed the course of his life.

Dr. Carlos Gomez discusses aesthetic and reconstructive surgery from his clinic in Puerto Vallarta.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3
With the growing popularity of people coming "south of the border" for cosmetic and plastic surgeries, many of those experiences covered in Banderas News, I questioned my medical friends about the competency and quality of plastic surgeons in Puerto Vallarta. The response was similar; the best plastic surgeons were located in Guadalajara. I was informed that Guadalajara produces more plastic surgeries than any city in the world other than Rio de Janeiro.

Due to many letters sent to Banderas News requesting information about what is offered in Puerto Vallarta, I set out on a quest to meet with the most capable and competent plastic surgeons locally. Speaking with medical people, many were hesitant to recommend anyone, while some others sang the praises of just one plastic surgeon (never being the same surgeon.)

Then I met Dr. Carlos Gomez. We met a few times, each time Dr. Carlos impressed me immensely with his passion, dedication and unique ability for plastic surgery procedures. With full belief I had met the best, we scheduled an interview to be profiled in Banderas News as a service to our readers. The first obvious question was "Why did you choose plastic surgery?" Dr. Carlos lifted up his shirt and he showed me a horrendous scar that covered his chest, stomach, going around to the side of his torso.

In high school, his passion was racing sports cars, and he aspired to professionally race and study to be an engineer with an F1 license. Then came the accident and the successful reconstructive surgery and his future plans were immediately altered. Dr. Carlos has always owned the belief that any negative can be turned into a positive, a belief he still holds close to his being.

Still in high school, his future goal changed due to his injury and then aspired to become a plastic as well as a reconstructive surgeon. His own near fatal experience changed the course of his life. He began to help in the emergency rooms while in high school and became so excited about the field that he even recruited member of his own family to have plastic surgery done to enhance their appearance.

He went on to study undergraduate work at the Universidad De Autonomia in Guadalajara. He graduated with honors and went on to medical school at the same prestigious university leaving with the medical status as a General Practitioner. Many physicians in the United States as well as worldwide study at the university; the standards are extremely high, and the competition intense.

Dr. Carlos then went to Mexico City for his residence (internship) in General Surgery, spending his first year at Gustavo Vagande Vas Hospital. He was promoted as the head of all residents of plastic surgery at the end of his first year, chosen ahead of those with three years in residency. During the following three years as the Chief of residents, he spent time at Hermann Hospital in Houston, part of the University of Texas. He studied under the supervision of Dr. Parks and Dr. Wexler, two leaders in the field, while in Texas.

I asked Dr. Carlos why he didn't consider himself a cosmetic surgeon, rather than a plastic surgeon? My understanding was that a cosmetic surgeon was the politically correct term, but he explained the difference. "They (cosmetic surgeons) start working like they are their own society, that being together they are more powerful and can protect themselves. There is quite a bit more involved as a plastic surgeon."

Another question was about certification, and he responded; "the same certifications apply in Mexico as those in the United States, Canada and Europe. Everybody has to be board certified and there are some colleges of plastic surgeons also." Dr. Carlos serves on the Board of Plastic Surgery for the State of Jalisco. "The Board has to decide who is competent for performing plastic surgery. If one is not Board certified, it means that you are lacking some knowledge and/or skills."

Due to his own personal experience with reconstructive surgery, he immediately pursued the desire to learn and practice in the other side of plastic surgery as well as the field of enhancing one's looks. "I try to take the good of the worst experience. If you don't have a positive attitude about what you are confronting, sometimes you just lose the edge," he explained, "If someone now asks me if I want to race cars, I answer that I enjoy sports cars, but it is not as important to me. I am so happy with what I'm doing now. I enjoy my time with the patients in the office as well as in the operating room. It means so much more to me to have the patient smiling with their aesthetic or reconstructive surgery, that it feels better to me than being the Formula One champion."

Turning on his computer, Dr. Carlos showed me photos of many of his procedures; the before and after type that are dated to show the healing process over periods of times. His methods are different than most, as he specializes in minimal incisions, therefore allowing for much faster healing and fewer complications, although the time in the operating room might be a bit longer. He explained and showed me photos of a traditional face lift where all the skin is completely peeled back and the surgery needed is performed. Then we looked at photos of his minimal incision technique, prior to surgery, during surgery and follow ups after just three days, a week and three weeks.

The more rapid healing was an incredible sight to see. In just three days a complete face lift showed very minimal scarring and after a week all scarring was virtually impossible to see with the naked eye. Not only the face lift, but he showed me photos of almost every surgical technique and the rapid healing was a startling sight to see.

One amazing groups of photos quickly taught me the other side of his profession; the reconstructive side. About 15 years ago a man came into a hospital where he was then the Chief of Plastic Surgery, with his hand and wrist wrapped in a newspaper, bearing his arm where it became detached with tendons, ligaments and the such dangling from his bloody arm. The time since the accident was two hours and Dr. Carlos was summoned to surgery where he spent the next 12 hours, intricately reattaching the wrist and hand to his arm. Photos told the whole story and to this day the man has complete use of that hand.

The doctor is not all about money either, and for that reason he chose to open his own clinic in Puerto Vallarta. He turned down offers to work in the United States and was recruited by the finest hospitals locally and graciously turned down the offers. He is able to do much pro bono work, another passion of his. The way he described feeling after performing cleft and lip palate surgery to young needy kids, at no cost, has given them an opportunity to succeed in life without such obvious physical drawbacks. Being unaffiliated also affords him the opportunity to take on extreme cases when all else fails.

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