Read about my visits to the OR with Dr. Ramirez here.)
Today, I interviewed the charming young plastic surgeon, Dr. Victor Manuel Ramirez Hernandez, 37. Dr. Ramirez is well-versed in medical tourism – he tells me that 90% of his current practice are American patients. He reports that many of these patients are from nearby areas in California and Arizona but that he has patients from across the United States.
Undoubtedly, these patients found Dr. Ramirez the same way I did – via the internet, thru his well-designed and attractive website, www.cirugiaplasticamexicali.com Parts of the bilingual site are still under construction, so I contacted Dr. Ramirez directly to arrange for an in-person interview. He also offers his services thru Costuco, a medical tourism agency that published their own medical tourism guide. He is one of four local plastic surgeons listed in their recent publication advertising surgical services in the city called guia de cirugia en Mexicali.)
His office is located just a short walk from FCO (Francisco) Maduro, on Calle B – between Reforma and Obregon and across the street from Hospital Hispanol Americano. (Interestingly enough – and coincidentally, his office is next to one of the thoracic surgeons I had previously contacted.)
He readily agreed – and with a minimum of fuss, we sat down together to discuss his practice. He is friendly, polite and patient. (I, myself, am surprisingly nervous – as much of my Spanish deserts me, the usually smoothly phrased questions becoming a jumbled, hurly burly mix.) Luckily for me, Dr. Ramirez has arranged for his nephew, an Arizona native* to stand by and assist with translation as I try and gather my wits and compose myself. Dr. Ramirez, who primarily speaks Spanish tells me that he often does this in order to facilitate communication with his English-speaking clientele.
As we talk, one of the things Dr. Ramirez and his nephew touch on is the importance of medical training and education, and the importance of being able to quantify the validity of this training in Mexico, where training standards and requirements are not standardized.
Dr. Ramirez himself received his medical education** in Morelia, which is the capital of the Mexican state of Michoacan (de Ocampo). He attended the well- respected, and well-reputed Universidad de Michoacana de San Nicolas de Hidalgo***. After graduating in 1997, he completed his general surgery residency (1997 – 2002) at Hospital Central Militar (which is a large military hospital – similar to Bethesda or other American VA facilities, located in Mexico City.)
He completed his plastic and reconstructive specialty surgery at the same facility in 2007 – 2008. During his fellowship, he published several papers in a national medical journal, Revista Sanidad Militar (Military Health Magazine).
He completed additional training in microsurgery and breast reconstruction and received his board certification in plastic, esthetic and reconstructive surgery.
(As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, and in prior publications – not all countries require specialty surgeons such as plastic surgeons, cardiac surgeons etc. to have general surgery training.)
Since then, he has presented, and lectured at several national conferences (Mexican Association of Plastic, Esthetic and Reconstructive Surgery as an active member of this organization.)
He currently performs (on average of) four surgeries a week. He performs a wide range of facial and body procedures including injectables, face-lifts, breast augmentation, abdominoplasties, and liposuction. (This is not an all-inclusive list.) During his initial consultation, Dr. Ramirez performs a full medical evaluation. If patients have uncontrolled diseases (such as diabetes) or are at high rick for surgical complications, Dr. Ramirez will refer patients for further medical evaluation and treatment before undergoing surgery.
For patients who live nearby (but outside Mexicali), Dr. Ramirez recommends a three-day stay with a return to Mexicali for a one week post-operative follow-up. For medical tourists from greater distances, Dr. Ramirez recommends a one week stay in Mexicali. He and his staff will assist in making hotel arrangements, and Dr. Ramirez has nurses that make house calls after surgery.
During my visit today, we also reviewed several of his cases – including before and after photographs. Notably, in the photos viewed, post-operative photos, while showing dramatic differences, also showed natural appearing results. The post-operative breast augmentation photos were particularly interesting – in all of the photos reviewed, the patients had elected for cosmetically appealing, natural looking results [versus dramatically endowed, ‘porn star’ breast implants]. (As discussed in Bogotá! – styles and fashions of plastic surgery may vary among cultures, geographic regions and the general public.)
*It turns out that his nephew, who is currently studying medicine is practically my neighbor, having been raised and attending school in Williams, AZ which is near Flagstaff (my current home.)
** In Mexico, like many countries, students do not attend a separate undergraduate program prior to medical school. Instead, students undertake a six or seven year program that encompasses medicine and general studies.
*** This is one of the oldest universities in Mexico, originally founded as the colegio de San Nicolas de Higaldo in 1540. It became a university in 1917. It is also one of the largest public universities in Mexico. At the Universidad Michoacana – students may apply for the five-year medicine program after completing two years of general study.
Publications: (selected sample, not a full listing)
Clinical experiences in burns at Hospital Central Militar. (2007) full text pdf.