Days of Summer

cautionary tale for my on-line friends in another botched surgery case in Florida.

Let the buyer beware:

In the most recent case, four individuals have been arrested for impersonating surgeons and operating an unlicensed surgery clinic. According to the media reports, only one of the four people charged is a licensed physician, nurse or other trained healthcare provider – but that didn’t stop them from performing major operations such as liposuction and abdominoplasty procedures on their unknowing patients.  While Dr. William Marrocco* was the doctor on record for the clinic – patients report that he wasn’t the one operating!


Unlike many of the ‘chop shops” we’ve written about that take place in garages, motels and private ‘parties’, in this scenario, unwary consumers were duped by a savvy group of criminals who had owned and operated the “Health and Beauty Cosmetic Surgery” clinic in downtown West Palm Beach.

*The good doctor Marrocco remains a legally licensed doctor in the state of Florida – though interestingly enough – he does not have prescriptive privileges.  One the Florida Department of Health website, Dr. Marrocco (whose secondary address corresponds with the clinic address) reports active licenses in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana and Nebraska.

But let’s check it out… so I did my own preliminary online search –

Virginia: No records found.  No active or past licensees (expired in the last five years) found.  So he may have had one – but not recently.

Pennsylvania: William Charles Marrocco held a license in Pennsylvania for a brief two-year period between 1998 to 2000. This includes his period of medical residency training at Temple University Hospital.

Michigan: Three expired licenses – one for student status (resident) and one as a pharmacist.

Indiana: Dr. Marrocco was a licensed plastic surgeon in the state of Indiana from 2000 to 2011 and has a notation “reinstatement pending‘.  Maybe Dr. Marracco is planning on heading back to Indiana – where his license remains unblemished – despite the scandal surrounding the 2003  death of his wife after he performed liposuction on her).  License # 01052282A

Nebraska:  Expired, license #2909, educational license permit (training) affiliated with Indiana University

Jorge Nayib Alarcon Zambrano – (one of the individuals charged) is listed as a member of the Colombian Society of Plastic Surgeons – from Cali, Colombia.  So he may be a trained surgeon, just not a very good one (and not licensed in the United States).

Licensing isn’t everything..

Kind of goes to show some of the pitfalls of relying on licensing boards for consumer protection.  Dr. William Marrocco was a licensed plastic surgeon, but that’s little consolation for many patients at that West Palm Beach clinic.

In fairness to Dr. William Marrocco, Jorge Alarcon and the other individuals in the case – they have been charged with multiple counts, but have not been convicted of any crime.  Until that time, they remain innocent until proven guilty.

Apologies to my loyal readers for the long lapse in posts but my plate has been pretty full.  But I will be finishing my latest assignment in a few weeks and starting a couple of new projects for the summer months.


I applied for and received a new assignment from to expand my focus to include more than just health topics.  Now I will be able to write more articles focusing on life and culture in Latin America.

Colombia Moda 2014

To kick-start my new assignment, I have applied to attend Colombia Moda 2014.

(official image from Colombia Moda / Inexmoda)

As many of you already know, I was able to attend last year – and got a fascinating glimpse into the fashion industry and the future of both fashion and consumerism.

Last year’s speakers were promoting the concept of “re-shoring” and changing from the traditional ‘seasonal’ lines and collections to an ongoing, evolving fashion line with new designs and items being designed, developed and sold to the public in shorter mini cycles.


This year – I’ll be able to cover all of this – along with interviews with individual designers, fashion lines and the Colombian fashion and textile industry.  (Last year, my articles were focused on the role between fashion and plastic surgery).

Fashion is so intrinsic to Colombian life, and many parts of Latin America, so I am really excited about it.  It plays such an important role in the economic, social and an even personal lives of many Colombians.


I won’t have an assistant this year – but I am getting a new lens for the event (I will be journalist/ photographer for the event).

After Colombia Moda, I will be flipping back and forth between writing about culture and my ‘usual’ medicine and health storylines.

I will be staying in Colombia for several weeks as well as covering the Latin American Association of Thoracics (ALAT) conference at the end of July.   It’s one of the biggest international conferences in thoracic medicine/ surgery with many of the legends of thoracic surgery planning to be in attendance.

Sponsors del Congreso ALAT 2014

In August, I’ll be heading across the globe to interview the head of an innovative surgical program.

I’ll be checking in along the way – and posting photos, interviews and articles as I go.


Colombia Moda 2013: In-sourcing and Re-shoring

Handicapped accessible machinery for clothing construction allows disabled Colombians to return to the workforce

Handicapped accessible machinery for clothing construction allows disabled Colombians to return to the workforce

Colombia Moda is the Colombian version of fashion week.  While it escapes the notice of most North Americans; it shouldn’t.  Colombia Moda is more than just runways, lovey models and concept collections.  Colombia Moda is an event that gives context to many of the Latin American beauty ideals.  This week, while attending Colombia Moda, we will be talking about emerging plastic surgery trends and their relationship to fashion, but as part of a series of articles, we will also be discussing other reasons why Americans should pay attention to a “fashion show” in Medellin, Colombia.

Beyond pretty clothes, ColombiaModa is also a meeting of the biggest minds in fashion and textiles.   The show itself brings in 137.7 million dollars to Colombia, which has the fourth largest economy in Latin America (behind population giants like Brazil and Mexico).  More importantly, it brings industry leaders, in design, clothing manufacturing and textiles from around the world.


Clothing construction and textiles are the heart of this conference, and what Americans should really take notice of.  Other Americans have, like the founder of American Apparel, who is speaking here later this week.  It’s about “reshoring” as it was called during a lecture by a professor of FIT.


Reshoring is the fashion industry’s term for moving clothing production back to the Americas; both north and south. It’s an idea that is gaining ground in the textile industry in the aftermath of several disastrous fires in Bangladeshi clothing factories that have highlighted the poor working conditions, as well as increasing bureaucratic restrictions and rising minimal wages in these countries.  China alone accounts for 38% of all clothing purchased in the United States.

Delays and long production timelines due to shipping and production issues also favor continental garment fabrication. This along with a transition to more frequent fashion lines, called “short lines” with new fashions being released seven or more times a year, instead of the traditional 2 to 4, heralds increased economic opportunities for companies willing to ‘re-shore’ their production lines from India, China, Vietnam, Bangladesh or other overseas areas to the Americas. But where?

Colombia appears poised to take the market, but the United States shouldn’t sit back and just watch. It’s an opportunity to bring jobs back to the Americas – all of the Americas, and it shouldn’t be ignored.

In the next article, we will present several Colombia companies that have done just that.

The photographers of ColombiaModa 2013

As a nurse, and a writer who mainly covers medicine and surgery – I was a bit nervous when I embarked on the Colombia Moda project.  However, with fashion and beauty playing such a large role in Medellin (and other cities in Colombia), I thought it would be a huge mistake not to cover this event.

the other end of the runway (Matt Rines)

the other end of the runway (Matt Rines)

So far – it’s been wonderful – and my fellow writers and photographers have been particularly so.  I was worried with my lack of fashion photography background/ experience that the other prensa (press) at the event would be daunting, or intimidating.

friendly Colombian photographers help the newbies

friendly Colombian photographer, Stevin Ortega helps the newby

But they haven’t been – they have been friendly, nice and amazingly helpful.  Before the first runway – there they were – scooting over so my additional photographer (Matt Rines) and I would have a good view of the runway – and giving us tips on using the best camera setting to capture images in this sort of setting.

Colombian photographer before the show

Colombian photographer, Federico Rios before the show

Watching the professional photographers is a little awe-inspiring.. Since we are sitting shoulder-to-shoulder (and even closer sometimes!), I can see their photos almost at the moment the shot is taken (on the digital display), and these guys are just amazing!  The clarity, the vision (to see that it’s going to be a good shot) is just phenomenal.  I was actually sucking in my breath –  a couple times as I glanced at some of my neighbors photos while we waited for the next model to come out..

with Juan Bouhot and Juan Estaban (Colombian press) - waiting for the runway to start

with Juan Bouhot and Juan Estaban (Colombian press) – waiting for the runway to start

International Press but little American representation

The majority of the journalists are from Colombia (InFashion, Caracol, El Colombiano and just about every Colombian magazine/ paper you can think of) but I have seen journalists from Panama, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile and even Australia.  Matt and I haven’t seen any other press from the United States yet – but somehow that doesn’t surprise me.  (When I was pitching this story to two different news outlets – both said that readers weren’t interested in stories about Colombia.)

But for my readers here – I’d like to get closer, and get some more stories about the people who shoot the photos.

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More than Colombian News

But this isn’t a story about Colombia, really.  It’s more of a story about fashion, beauty and all that goes with.   Fashion is international – and this event certainly proves that. One of the big focuses this year – is trying to “reshore” the clothing construction industry as one of this year’s lecturers from the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) explained.

It’s no longer cheaper, or easier to have clothing made in Bangladesh, India or China.. And that (previous) cheapness came with other complications – like long wait times, and a lot of bureaucratic headaches for designers and retailers.. Relocating these industries to the Americas is a boon for everyone.  Especially now that designers and retailers are changing their selling models – to embrace 7 or more lines a year “short lines” versus the traditional 2 to 4 lines.  But we’ll talk about that later – it’s almost time for the next runway to start!

Impanema runway model

Ipanema runway model (K. Eckland)

If you want to see more images by some of the photographers I have met:

LookatU – Paolo Trujillo

Julian Carvajal – (I was peeking over his shoulder at times – he’s a fantastic photographer).

Style Street –  fashion + photography

Estudio 8A – photographer, Jorge Ochoa from Argentina


John Drews  – highlights some of the work of Medellin-based John Erick Velasquez M.

What the runway looks like from behind the lens



As for me – I am working on several articles for other outlets – so I will post more information, and links when they are done. For the time being, you can follow my Colombia Moda twitter feed: K. Eckland for up-to-date photos and news.

Plastic surgery & Colombia Moda 2013

ad for Colombia Moda 2013 from Inxemoda

ad for Colombia Moda 2013 from Inxemoda

Fashion + Beauty are intrinsically tied together.  Sometimes it’s hard to tell where one ends and the other begins… (This is the more in-depth discussion from an article published on

Fashion as the evolution of beauty

Fashion is the evolutionary arm of our concepts of Beauty..  While ad campaigns talk about ‘timeless beauty”, in reality, the standards of beauty are constantly evolving, changing, expanding..  This has occurred throughout recorded history.. with dramatic examples of idealized beauty in ancient Rome, feudal  Japan, China and the noble houses of Europe.  With that in mind – the evolution of beauty over time has more impact on (mainly) women, but also economics, surgery and technology.

Changing and conforming to beauty ideals throughout time

Since the earliest of times, we’ve used cosmetics, clothing, and even surgery (yes, surgery) to change our looks to conform to the beauty standards of that time/ place/ culture.  With the advent of the internet age, ‘global beauty’ is the concept that cultural differences in beauty ideals are breaking down and becoming enmeshed into a single universal ideal.. While my fellow writers could (and have written) millions of words on the sociological and psychological aspects of attempting to fit into a ‘beauty ideal’ – I am not interested in discussing the ethics, moral or personal beliefs of independent individuals nor shall I attempt to impose those opinions on readers.. What I want to know, and to see – (and be able to watch and identify) as these beauty ideals morph and change.

So – I am heading to fashion week 2013 here in Medellin with high hopes.. Medellin has long been a leader in fashion, beauty and plastic surgery – and I want to see what’s trending now – and what’s coming next.  Not so much interested in the styles of the clothes, as I am, in the bodies beneath the clothes, and how the clothes showcase or encase certain areas of the bodies..  Is the focus on hips and buttocks this year, or is it swan-like necks and slim backs?  High rounded breasts or sleek arms and shoulders?

A brief history of Fashion (and Beauty)

In the last century alone – we’ve seen dramatic sweeping changes in beauty ideals.. From the corseted Gibson Girl with her sweeping locks to the androgynous flat chested flappers with eton crops – the pendulum of beauty swings bag and forth..

As flappers out grew their short locks, styles in the 1930’s featured more natural but subdued curves..  to the mannish shoulders and aggressive features of our 1940’s gals..  Back to the softly overblown 1950’s pin-ups.. as the swinging sixties came in – so did Twiggy.. slim boy-like 70’s to anorexic 80’s with icons like Jane Fonda.. The 90’s heralded the rise of J. Lo, and the voluptuous figure once more..  But what comes next?

We’re heading off to Colombia Moda 2013 this month to see if we can spot the latest trends in beauty (and plastic surgery)

Additional references

The Gibson Girl – a (Virginia native like myself)

Heisan beauty ideals

How to dress like a flapper

Betty Grable and her great gams

Bettie Page


Miss Korea candidates and plastic surgery

Latin American pageant winners and plastic surgery

Talking with Ketty Tinoco

Cartagena’s Fashionable Best

One of the things that I really enjoy about Colombia is the accessibility to arts, literature, entertainment and to those that provide  these contributions to local culture.  As a small country of only 45 million, there’s just a greater chance to encounter these national treasures.

Today was another example of that – as I had the opportunity to talk to one of Cartagena’s home grown fashion designers, the fabulous Ketty Tinoco and her son, Jose Vergara.

This wonderful chance encounter with the queen of elegance with her trademark crisp cool linens was absolutely thrilling.  As long time friends and readers know – medicine/ surgery are my life, and my obsession – but clothing design and fashion are a close second.  It all stems from an elective course at Dalhousie University many (too many!) years ago when I was just a few classes short of graduation.
Dalhousie University is well-known to everyone (except this gringa) for its costume studies program – and after taking one class – I was hooked forever with a love of design, fashion and fabric.
Some of you have read about my love of native Bogotano fashion, and how I
haunted the shop windows during the months I lived in Bogotá.  Now, I turn my eyes to the coast..

So here I am, sitting next to Ketty Tinoco as she gives me a sneak peek of her upcoming collection – coming out September 1st.   (Yes – the collection is luscious, beautiful – and no – all of you will have to wait – no sneak peeks here at Cartagena Surgery.)  Ms. Tinoco speaks just a little English, and while looking at her lovely, lovely pieces, all of my adjectives in Spanish just desert me.  I am speechless with wonder as I look at the way the fabric is soft, yet crisp, simply elegant yet beautifully detailed.
All the fancy terms I learned in school – are instantly erased – I have no words to describe the loose drape, the relaxed yet classic looks.

Her clothing evokes images of romantic evenings in the steamy Cartagena heat – a return to the glamour of the past. Lauren Bacall, Casablanca, Marlene Dietrich and Katherine Hepburn in those fabulous trousers, this is what it makes me think of.  A time when people dressed to impress and dressed for dinner.  And these clothes  make me long for that.

While all the pieces are beautiful, there is one piece of such classic beauty that my heart just stops – this dress it calls to me, it speaks to me, it evokes images of screen legends and black and white films, of forgotten eras.  This dress is so amazingly beautiful and brings to mind such lovely feelings – that tears come to my eyes.  And that is fashion, my friends.

from the Ketty Tinoco Collection

Now that I’ve had a chance to share my lovely afternoon with you – let me share a little more about the charming, elegant, talented Ms. Tinoco.  She started sewing at home over thirty years ago (just barely 52, and certainly doesn’t look it!)

Since then she has earned a reputation for her style and extensive use of washed linens in her work, as one of Cartagena’s best known designers.

Ketty Tinoco

 (Centro Historico)

Calle Baloco, Edif.
Pineres Local 1

Cartagena, Colombia

57 5 664 0525


Ketty Tinoco’s boutique in historic El Centro

Hotel Hilton Cartagena, Local H

Cartagena, Colombia

57 5 665 0660 ext 217


This video is in Spanish – but you certainly don’t need to know Spanish to love her style!