Dr. Rodrigo Diaz is a plastic surgeon at the Clinicas de Las Americas in Medellin. He primarily specializes in facial plastic surgery (rhinoplasty, blepharoplasty, forehead surgery, facial endoscopy, face-lifts and fillers) and breast surgery (augmentation/ reduction). He reports that he receives most of his clients by work of mouth but does see a significant percentage of medical tourists.
The majority of his patients are private practice (self-pay) patients but he does see patients from many of the major Colombian health care insurance plans such as Colseguro, Liberty, Sur America, Colsanitas. While American insurance companies do not traditionally cover elective cosmetic procedures, it is worth investigating with your insurer as many of the larger plans such as Blue Cross/ Anthem now have ancillary plans for cosmetic procedures.
Dr. Diaz has been a practicing plastic surgeon for thirty years, and a professor of plastic surgery at the Universidad de Antioquia for the past 12 years. He attended the Universidad de Antioquia medical school and completed his plastic surgery residency there as well.
Like all Colombian surgeons profiled here at Latin American Surgery.com, he is a member of the Colombian Society of Plastic, Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery. He is also a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and the International Society of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic surgery.
As we talk, he reviews the pre-operative process for his patients. “It usually starts with an email from the patient,”he states. Then he solicits a complete medical history from the patient, including medications, past surgeries, social habits (smoking, drinking etc), current and past medical problems (like hypertension) and family history. This also includes photographs so he can best determine exactly what procedure(s) they will need, plan the procedure and discuss anticipated results.
If they have a single problem (like high blood pressure), then he sends the patient for a complete medical evaluation.
All smokers are required to quit at least 2 months before the procedure, and Aspirin (and other anti-platelets) must be discontinued 8 days before the scheduled procedure.
Out-of-town patients are encouraged to bring another adult with them, and additional translators are provided as needed.
Plan for adequate recovery time
One of the things he stresses heavily during our interview is the need for medical tourists to allocate adequate time to the recovery process before returning to their home country. This is something that has been brought up in previous interviews with other surgeons, as well but bears repeating. Even smaller surgeries require adequate healing time, so the idea of a ‘weekend surgical makeover’ should be dismissed from the minds of potential clients.
Most important aspect is post-operative care
The time necessary for adequate healing is usually 15 days to three weeks depending on the procedures. This period is also important for surgeons to be able to detect small problems such as delayed healing before it becomes a bigger problem. “It is better for me to see an incision that isn’t healing right away so I can treat it immediately, then for the patient to put it off – and then seek treatment weeks later when it is a much larger problem.”
Another reason he encourages patients to not to rush home, is that surgeons in their home countries may be unwilling to care for patients who have surgery elsewhere.
Patients take priority
Dr. Diaz prides himself in providing excellent post-operative care. All patients have his cell phone, and he encourages them to use it for all and every question or concern – day or night. “If they need me, I am here.”
And – don’t worry, if you are hesitant to call him – he is going to call you anyway, just to check in and make sure you are doing well, and your pain is controlled. He calls all of his patients the day after surgery, and continues to check-in and see patients frequently during the first weeks after surgery.
“My patients always take priority, even after they return home. If I have a patient Skyping me in the office – well, that takes priority over other things because I know what a hassle it is for them.”
He speaks English fluently but reports he continues to take weekly classes in English and American culture. He feels that it is impossible to have a complete understanding and good communication of his clients without understanding the culture.
Trends in facial plastic surgery
During his lengthy plastic surgery career, Dr. Diaz has seen a lot of trends come and go in aesthetics. He reports that one of the main trends he has seen over the last few years, is a trend for lesser facial procedures such as facial endoscopy, eyelid surgery or use of fillers by his clients versus a full face-lift. He states the reasons are multiple. Patients want to avoid the dreaded “plasticized / surgerized” artifical appearance that has been highly visible in popular media such as American reality shows, and prefer more subtle results, so his patients tend to seek treatment earlier, just a lines and folds appear. While many of these treatments are temporary like fillers or laser re-surfacing, the results are more natural and aesthetically pleasing.
Secondly, patients want to avoid the longer downtown involved with a larger procedure like a face-lift which may have residual bruising, or swelling for several weeks. These patients want to be refreshed and back in the office quickly.
Lastly, as he reflects on his career and the ‘style’ of plastic surgery – he reports that for many of his clients (particularly Colombian client), the focus is so heavily on the body (breast and buttock augmentation) that the face is secondary in consideration.
Dr. Ruy Rodrigo Diaz
Calle 32 No 72-28
Clinica de Las Americas, 4th floor