Medical tourism in Mexico is booming and an estimated 1.4 million people have come from the U.S., Canada and Europe to take advantage of up to a 60% reduction in costs for procedures according to Patients Beyond Borders. Mexico also boasts highly skilled doctors and nurses who often speak great English, a high quality of care and excellent amenities and conveniences.
Social media is teeming with aesthetic dermatology practitioners and promises and can be hard to navigate; you might even wonder if medical tourism is safe.
For a professional perspective, MND conducted an exclusive interview with expert dermatologist Dr. Daniela Lara Del Valle, founder and CEO of Clinica de la Piel Dermantra, San Miguel de Allende, about what to look for when considering cosmetic and aesthetic procedures, and her journey to running a successful clinic, where 80% of her new clients travel from the US and Canada.
Dr. Lara completed her training in General Medicine 17 years ago, at Mexico City’s prestigious UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico) followed by 2 years at La Salle University, before specializing in dermatology at the Dermatologic Hospital at UNAM. She then received a Fellowship in oncodermatology and dermatologic surgery with the CM Teknon Group at Barcelona University. Today, she attends up to five international congresses per year to keep her license as a Dermatologist and surgical Dermatologist current, in accordance with the Mexican Dermatology Board guidelines.
Over the next few months, Dr. Lara will answer MND readers’ questions about age-preventive treatments – Botox, neurotoxin therapy, dermal and lip fillers, treatment for lines and wrinkles – and provide top skin care tips.
Dr. Lara specializes in dermatology and aesthetic and cosmetic procedures
In retrospect, my journey to dermatology was interesting. Since I can remember, I dreamed about becoming a doctor, even though medicine was not part of my family history. I would play doctor, dressed up in one of my father’s white shirts for a doctor’s coat! Even in high school, I maintained excellence and aced exams. My mantra was always, ‘I’ll be successful!’ – but my drive was really due to an innate passion to help people. Medicine is definitely a calling.
I fell in love with dermatology during my 4th year rotation at the General Hospital of Mexico where I was taught and mentored by Dr. Amado Saul Cano, one of the most renowned dermatologists in Mexico. Friends and family encouraged me to persist in gynecology or oncology – which I had applied to and been accepted in rotation. I had to push back against the stigma that dermatology is a ‘lesser’ category of medicine, and as a woman, you are somehow less equipped as a doctor. These stereotypes persist, but a good reputation and success can prove otherwise! When I left college, I took an unpaid internship with one of the most prestigious dermatologists in CDMX, Dr. Isela Mendez, who remains a dear friend. I learned the importance of excellent customer experience and attended many advanced aesthetic training sessions with luminaries in the field like Nabil Fakih of Merz Pharma and Mark Stefanelli.
As a dermatologist, I can often figure out the problem and a solution within 5 minutes, just using a pen and paper. It’s a field where one has the power to literally change a person’s life, no matter what age – treating acne, lichen simplex, pityriasis rosea – you name it.
How did you come to San Miguel de Allende and what are your future business plans?
In 2017 I lost one of my three clinics in CDMX in the earthquake, and my concern for my two children’s safety increased, so I took a leap of faith and moved to San Miguel. I didn’t know the city, but my mother once owned a house here. People told me I was crazy, but my intuition was strong. It’s been an amazing city to build my business and raise my children.
Currently, my clinic, Dermantra, has seven medical offices, an ambulatory surgical room and three aesthetic rooms for cosmetic procedures. I employ three other doctors and one other dermatologist. We’re remodeling and expanding and I’m looking for some land to build a larger state-of-the-art clinic – either in San Miguel or Queretaro.
What services do you offer, and what are the most popular cosmetic and aesthetic treatments?
We offer all the services of Clinical Dermatology; treatment for diseases (acne psoriasis, melasma, rosacea, atopic dermatitis, hair loss, etc.), routine skin cancer diagnostics (i.e. full body check-ups), skin cancer or benign tumors surgery (lipomas, cyst, etc.).
In cosmetic dermatology and aesthetics, we offer services including skin rejuvenation, hair removal, etc. We have top of the line technology, like the Erbium fractionated laser, Dermapen (for microneedling treatments) and Micro Focalized Ultrasound with Visualization, called Ultherapy. For cosmetic services, we offer European, American, Japanese and Korean brands.
Botox treatment with neurotoxins or neuromodulators (wrinkle-relaxing injections of botulinum toxin), facial fillers and lip fillers or enhancements, are the most popular treatments. I also offer bolometric lifting, applying Botox to the upper corners of the face – which lifts the whole face. This is proving to be very popular, and not all doctors offer this. It’s one of my specialties.
Many of my clients have Dermantra recommended to them, and 80% of my cosmetic clients come from Texas, Los Angeles, New York and Canada. I’m happy that we also find the time to help the underserved in the community with facial dermatological issues. Community is very important to me.
Are cosmetic and dermatological procedures in Mexico easier on the wallet?
Many of my U.S. clients come to Mexico for Botox and filler treatments. The cost for most of my treatments is about a third of the cost of treatment in the U.S. The consultation alone is less expensive than a decent meal! If you’ve done your research to source a good, qualified doctor, the proximity of Mexico to the U.S. makes it a great reason to travel. My clients tell me they value the longer one-on-one time in my consultations compared to their experiences in the US. I think that level of nurturing and care is also a very Mexican trait!
What’s your expert opinion on getting aesthetic dermatology procedures in Mexico?
In aesthetic procedures, in both the U.S. and Mexico, a nurse, hairdresser or medical assistant can get a license to inject. Sadly, a general lack of regulation can lead to poor training, the use of fake or non-FDA approved products, and unregulated procedures – all of which can lead to unsatisfactory patient experiences.
Prestigious brands like Allergan or Merz seek out professionals like myself to be a part of their VIP doctor program and to invest in training for their products with some of the very best aestheticians in the world like Dr. Arthur Swift and Jani Van Loghen. Due to the worldwide reach of these companies, I travel and learn from the very best. I feel very blessed, and my work is very much about sharing those blessings. Helping change people’s outward identities to feel happier is a big responsibility, and I am proud of feeling up to that task.
For excellent results, make sure to work with someone who has invested time in their continuing education and always vet their credentials. In this business, a good reputation direct from clients is much more important than social media fame!
Hear Dr. Daniela Lara’s expert advice on Botox and similar treatments in tomorrow’s article.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal or medical advice. The writer and Mexico News Daily assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions in the content on this site. Individuals should always consult with qualified professionals regarding medical procedures, including plastic and/or cosmetic surgery, and medical aesthetic treatments, as well as consider their jurisdiction’s applicable laws and regulations.
Henrietta Weekes is a writer, editor, actor and narrator. She divides her time between San Miguel de Allende, New York and Oxford, UK.