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Cosmetic Surgery Close to Home


It was February 2009 two months shy of my 40th birthday. I decided to treat myself to some cosmetic enhancements to mark this milestone in my life. I embraced turning 40  I just didn want to look it. I began to explore my options and having previously lived abroad decided to extend my search for doctors and hospitals beyond U.S. borders.

My search took me to the Medical Tourism Association. I was pleased to find a member cosmetic surgery clinic in Guatemala City where I had lived and worked a few years earlier.I decided to pursue cosmetic surgery in Guatemala.

Familiar with the country I even had friends there who could look in on me after the surgery and so I felt comfortable about having it done there. Next step I contacted Renova Comprehensive Center for Plastic Surgery.

Easy Decision

I visited Renovas Web site and sent an e-mail inquiry. I received a surprisingly prompt response from the medical director himself Dr. Germán Vargas within a couple of days. His professionalism and accessibility impressed me from the beginning. I knew after only two or three e-mail exchanges that I had found my surgeon.

Further review of the credentials of Dr. Vargas and the rest of the Renova staff solidified my decision. Dr. Vargas holds leadership positions in national and international associations such as the International Confederation of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery (IPRAS) and the Iberian Latin American Federation of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (FILACP).

He previously sat on the advisory council for FILACP and served as its director of new technology for two years. Currently he heads the committee for scientific discoveries.His innovative thinking inspired him to envision a cosmetic surgery center that offered patients complete solutions  both invasive and non-invasive.

Renova is the result of Dr. Vargass vision. The first floor is dedicated to patient consultation the entire second floor contains the operating facilities and patient recovery suites and the third floor is a full-service medical spa. Dr. Vargas also hand-picked his staff recruiting Drs. Guillermo Echeverría and Emilio Menéses acclaimed surgeons with whom he had been acquainted previously in his career to join him in his practice.I e-mailed Dr. Vargas photos of the areas I wanted enhanced and we scheduled my surgery for May 5.

I was interested in a breast augmentation tummy tuck and liposuction to the back and abdominal areas. That left me a little more than two months to prepare for surgery.During those two months I e-mailed Dr. Vargas several times each week as questions occurred to me.

He always responded quickly and honestly reassuring me every step of the way. I marveled at his dedication knowing full well I would never have enjoyed such a direct line to my surgeon here in the States.

Complete Confidence

On May 4 I visited Renova for the first time in person for my pre-surgery consultation. The building façade and entryway were modern and pristine rivaling high-end spas back home. The office staff welcomed me and I immediately felt calm with a sense that I was in very good hands. I took a seat and waited to be called enjoying the tranquil sounds of water cascading down the slate tile of the built-in waterfall.

Meeting Dr. Vargas for the first time his kind and assuring demeanor indicated I was in the presence of not only a world-class surgeon but also someone who truly cared about my well-being and satisfaction with my body image. Dr. Vargas exudes a unique mixture of professionalism and compassion that almost seems absent in our hurried American existence.

He examined me and determined that I was a good candidate for breast augmentation with smaller implants just to provide some lift and take me from my full-B to a C cup. A peri-areolar incision would work well and minimize scars.

He also determined that the tightening I wanted below the navel could be achieved with a mini tummy tuck rather than a full tummy tuck. He would also perform liposuction to my upper and lower back flanks and abdomen with the added bonus of injecting some of the fat back into my gluteal region for a rounder backside.

The Big Day

The morning of surgery I arrived to Renova at 7:30 and was escorted to the suite where I would be staying after surgery to store my belongings. The suite reminded me more of a five-star resort than a hospital room. There was a complete lack of the cold institutional feel so common to most medical facilities.

It featured cozy minimalist décor and was spotless.I was fitted for my post-surgery compression garment and whisked away in a wheelchair to the operating room.As the surgical team and anesthesiologist were setting up Dr. Vargas began marking my body for the different procedures.

I then climbed onto the gurney was administered anesthesia and drifted off with total peace of mind. What seemed like five minutes later but was actually five hours later I awoke in my suite surrounded by a close friend and very attentive nursing staff.

Seamless Follow-Up

I spent four nights in my hospital suite at Renova. The first night both Dr. Vargas and the anesthesiologist Dr. Sandoval visited my bedside to make sure I was comfortable and to let me know the surgery had gone beautifully. I saw Dr. Vargas daily during my stay at Renova and each time he took great care to answer my questions and provide details about my procedures and recovery.

The nursing staff was so nurturing and caring that I was moved to tears when I was discharged to go to the hotel for the remainder of my in-country recovery.For the next 10 days I was a guest at Clarion Suites in Guatemala Citys prestigious Zone 10. This particular hotel has been a pioneer in medical tourism in Central America for years offering specially priced packages tailored to patients who travel to Guatemala for medical care.

Clarion Suites has the distinction of being the only all-suites hotel in Guatemala and it has designed accommodations based on the needs of its special clientele. The director of the hotel himself told me that the wood floors found in every suite are the result of patients needing a hypo-allergenic environment.Plush terry slippers and bathrobe as well as a complete collection of toiletries are a standard part of the guest pampering.

To ensure quality rest the beds are far more comfortable than standard hotel beds with luxurious comforters and pillows to spare. Rooms designated for patients in recovery are strategically located in quiet areas where street noise and floor traffic are minimal.The hotel restaurant La Poza ranks among the best five-star eateries Ive sampled in the world  at a fraction of the price. Healthy fare is a menu staple and the chef will even customize meals according to your nutritional needs upon request.

Whats more as part of the medical tourism package breakfast is included and delivered via room service at no additional cost.Clarion Suites was the perfect place for my recovery. The hotel staff tended to my every need delivering meals to my door arranging for meds to be brought from a nearby pharmacy calling a taxi when I needed one  there truly were no limits to their guest services.

Heading Home

Amazingly I never felt a single twinge of pain. From the moment I left the operating room until now two months later I have had nothing but minor muscle soreness from the liposuction. I was off pain meds one week after surgery and have not taken anything since.Dr. Vargas and I continue to communicate about my progress. Many people fear the coming home part of their medical tourism experience because they feel the follow-up care will be lacking.

I have received better more complete care from Dr. Vargas even long-distance than I have ever received from any local physician.I sincerely recommend Renova to anyone in the United States considering plastic surgery. The patient benefits are numerous and include:

  • Highly qualified internationally renowned surgeons
  • Surgeon membership in key industry organizations such as the Medical Tourism Association
  • Personalized plan for surgery and recovery
  • State-of-the-art medical technology and modern well-appointed facilities that meet or exceed U.S. standards
  • Full-service medical spa
  • Commitment to use only the best surgical products
  • Close proximity to the United States with three- to five-hour flights from most locations
  • Average savings of 50% to 66% over U.S. costs

The multiple procedures I had done would have easily cost between $25000 and $30000 in the United States. Renovas fee for the same procedures ranges between $8500 and $10000 U.S. Even with the added expense of airfare and hotel accommodations for a week or two the full amount is still from one-third to one-half the total cost in the United States.Renova doesn just improve physical features  it transforms lives.

I couldn be happier with my new body and self-confidence.For more information about Renova contact (502) 2329-6363 and for the Clarion Suites contact (502) 2421-3333.Dana Zambon is a professional copywriter and published author based in Houston Texas who is a long-time proponent of medical tourism. Contact her to learn more about her experience or visit her Web site at

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