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That Fighting Spirit

The young Maya woman was pregnant and had walked four hours over the mountains of Guatemala with her husband and child.

After Dr. Manuel Pena (’81) and his mission team had repaired her child’s cleft lip, through her husband, who could speak Spanish, she asked softly, “Now, can you fix mine?”

With her husband standing next to her and watching, Pena gently numbed her lip, opting out of general anesthesia due to her pregnancy, and performed the repair.

The next day, the family began the long climb back up 9,000-plus feet to their mountain home. “I thought, I’m never going to see them again,” says Pena. “But at the end of seven days, they were back so I could take out their stitches. I thought, this is incredible. This is why I was put here.”

The mountains of Guatemala might have seemed a far cry from the norm for Pena, a Naples, Florida-based plastic surgeon who specializes in aesthetics. But not if you know Pena’s background and childhood. He grew up just across the Caribbean Sea, on the island of Cuba.

A young Pena (left) soon after moving to the United States A young Pena (left) soon after moving to the United States
While those early years before the rise of Fidel Castro were ones of luxury – Pena was the son of the head of trauma surgery at the hospital in Camaguey, one of the island’s largest provinces – it changed “seemingly overnight,” he recalls. Gone were the cook and the nanny. Gone were the properties, even the family home that had been owned by Penas for over 300 years.

The noose was growing tighter in Cuba. Young Manuel remembers waiting in line with his mother for a ration book that would allow the family to buy basic staples like bread, eggs, sugar or meat as the country’s rich resources were being spent on weapons and elsewhere. Out of fear for their family’s safety, his parents sent Manuel’s sister, then 11, with her godparents to the United States.

The rest of the family fled soon after. “My father and mother and I left Cuba in September of 1964,” says Pena, flying to Mexico where they waited three months for a visa. Then 7, Pena remembers his father taking him to the local pool to swim every day, not knowing that his father wanted him to practice in case they would need to swim the Rio Grande. “He didn’t know how deep it was,” says Pena. “But it didn’t come to that.”

The Penas would land in Miami where the family was reunited. But then came the hard work of rebuilding their lives. His father began the process of being recertified as a physician to work in the United States. And his mother, who had never had to cook or take care of a home and had instead spent her days drawing and playing tennis or canasta, used one of her hobbies to keep the family afloat: sewing.
“She was making shift dresses for $1.50 apiece,” says Pena. “It was a sweat shop, but that’s what kept us going.”

It was a tough mountain to climb, but “we were together, we were free and the world was there for the taking,” says Pena.

With the help of friends and the local Boys Club (predecessor to today’s Boys & Girls Clubs), Pena mastered English. After some time in Alabama, the family moved to Milledgeville, Georgia, where his father – now recertified – worked for Central State Mental Hospital and where a large population of Cuban physicians lived. Pena had started working too – even at that young age recognizing the sacrifice his parents had made to ensure their children had a better life.

After majoring in chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Georgia, Pena joined the first-year class at MCG, part of a large UGA contingent at Georgia’s public medical school. There was still that college feeling: keggers every Friday night at the cafeteria and raucous homecoming parades (Pena was head of MCG’s Entertainment Committee), but very quickly, he found his life’s work.

The first week of medical school, Pena sat in on a talk by Dr. Kenna Given, who had just been named section chief of plastic surgery. The lecture ranged over everything from congenital defects and trauma to microsurgery and aesthetics. “I didn’t know one field could be that broad,” says Pena. “So after the lecture, I followed him back to his office and said, ‘I want to do this. Will you be my clinical advisor?’ And he said, ‘Sure, I just took over so I don’t know exactly how this works, but we’ll figure it out together.’”

Pena with his parents at his 1981 MCG graduationPena with his parents at his 1981 MCG graduation
After graduation, Pena completed an internship in New Orleans at Charity Hospital, Tulane University, followed by a general surgery residency at Jackson Memorial Hospital, University of Miami (where he met his wife, Regina) and a plastic surgery residency at the Medical College of Georgia. He also began to start a family, which would grow to two daughters and two sons. Next came fellowships focusing on congenital defects, facial reconstruction and cosmetic surgery at the University of Miami and the Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital, an affiliate of New York University.

Pena went home to Florida after his training, choosing Naples as the location for his private practice in 1990 after a chance vacation there and a friend who shared that there was a need for a plastic surgery practice in the area. Life was good, and Pena had already begun giving back to the Boys & Girls Club, which had been so instrumental to him as a new immigrant struggling to learn English. Then Guatemala came calling, thanks to another physician friend who encouraged Pena to clear his schedule and join him for an upcoming mission trip, after the original plastic surgeon had to back out. “I went and couldn’t stop,” says Pena.

Since 1997, Pena has completed nine mission trips, providing major surgical care for more than 250 patients. Along with countries in South America, he has traveled to Jamaica, and Uganda and Burkina Faso in Africa. Back home, he has hosted regular fundraisers such as crawfish boils to raise funds to cover all the equipment and supplies needed. (The boils are ongoing and are now benefiting the Boys & Girls Club of Collier County.)

It’s a need that hits close to home for Pena, who will never forget leaving Cuba, the sacrifice of his parents and the helping hands of so many who have brought him to where he is today. “There’s a great old Chinese proverb. It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness. You do just a little bit. That’s all you can do. You can’t fix the world, but if something comes up and you can fix it, you do it.”

The Pena family—Manny, Pena, Regina, Savannah Rose, Athens and Monica—during a trip back to Cuba in 2006The Pena family—Manny, Pena, Regina, Savannah Rose, Athens and Monica—during a trip back to Cuba in 2006.

Originally published: http://magazines.augusta.edu/

RENUVA the Filler that Stimulates your own fat

MTF,the worlds larges accredited tissue bank, has just introduced RENUVA!   This is an Allograft Adipose Matrix  or in plain English, adipose cellular material from the highest quality donors. The "remnants" of the fat cells (processed to keep the fat stimulation properties) have no imunogenic activity. Thus no skin test is necessary. No anesthesia is necessary! This could replace fat grafts in small volumes  and can be used to correct minor "dents". Of course this is being used in cosmetic procedures to rplace certain fillers. Cheeks and hands  are two areas that have caught the attention of some of the early adopters of this new Biostimulator.

                            Cheek Volume Restoration

                            Hand Rejuvenation

  In essence the material comes in a syringe and it is prepared by mixing or rehydrating it with saline. It is then ready for injection! The material tricks the body into making fat where it has been injected. Most studies demonstrate a 40% volume retentin long term in areas treated with RENUVA. AS larger volumes become available surgeons and dermatologists will address "Larger targets" such as buttocks or even breasts! 

While Autologous Fat grafts will not be replaced by these Allograft Adipose Matrixes, they will add one more tool into our cosmetic and reconstructive group of options. The growth factors contained in the Renuva has even been shown to help heal certain types of wounds and soften longstanding scars much like those autologous fat grafts/ Call the office at 2390348-7362 to see if this could be benficial to your goals.

ThermiNeck Plus Nonsurgical Neck lift+Micro-liposuction and Barbed Suture

There is a new combination of Non-Surgical neck lift that combines Thermi (Radiofrequency heating) of the skin with micro suctioning of the fat under the skin and below the  jaw line. The  "tightening" usually takes place over a year or so.  To speed up the process with an immediate result, we have added the use of barbed sutures that are placed through the same punctures used for the Thermi and micro-liposuction.  The procedure is done under local anesthesia and takes approximately 45 minutes from beginning to end.  Downtime can be as little as 48 hours and discomfort is minimal.  Here is an interview with the patient that has undergone this procedure.

 

Dr. Manuel Peña Featured in Augusta University Magazine

Naples Plastic Surgeon Dr. Manuel PenaDr. Peña Manuel received his medical degree from the Medical College of Georgia (MCG) in 1981. After completing his general surgery residency and fellowship at Charity Hospital, Tulane University and Jackson Memorial Hospital, University of Miami, he would return to MCG to complete his plastic surgery residency. While a good student and a now a well-respected alumnus, an article featuring Dr. Peña in the latest MCG magazine focuses not on his professional accomplishments as a plastic surgeon, but on his mission trips and philanthropy.

Dr. Peña came to the United States with his family in 1964. Leaving Cuba just a few years following Castro’s rise to power, the Peña family spent several months in Mexico waiting for visa approval before finally landing in Miami, where Dr. Peña and his parents were reunited with his sister who had earlier been sent to live with godparents.

Life in those early years was not always easy for the Peña family, but all the same, Dr. Peña remembers the newly free family being together and supportive. All of these things – leaving Cuba, finding a new home, adjusting to a new county, dealing with economic and social disparity – likely played a role in Dr. Peña’s desire to help, serving to fuel his mission work later in life.

 “We were together, we were free, and the world was there for the taking.” – Dr. Peña

Dr. Peña has completed nine mission trips and provided surgical care for over 250 patients who otherwise would have gone without assistance. In addition to his mission trips to Africa, Burkina Faso, Jamaica, and South America, Dr. Peña routinely hosts fundraisers in and around Naples to raise money for the equipment and supplies needed on these trips.  Contact our office to learn how you can help support these mission trips.

“There’s a great old Chinese proverb. It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness. You do just a little bit. That’s all you can do. You can’t fix the world, but if something comes up and you can fix it, you do it.” – Dr. Peña

Dr. Peña is a board-certified plastic surgeon serving Estero, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, and surrounding areas from his office in Naples. If you are looking for an experienced, dedicated, and caring plastic surgeon in Florida, give us a call at 239-348-7362 to schedule a consultation today.

Body Contouring Options

Board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Manuel Peña offers a range of body contouring procedures that can be used alone or in combination to produce a toned, trimmed, and attractive physique. If there are areas of your body that you are unhappy with, areas that are obscured by loose skin, excess fat, or a lumpy and uneven appearance, give us a call at 239-348-7362 to schedule a consultation at our Naples, FL office and learn how Dr. Peña can help you look and feel your absolute best.

Liposuction

Liposuction is the most popular body contouring treatment at our Southwest Florida location. With this procedure, Dr. Peña can target stubborn deposits of fat in nearly any area of the body, helping restore ideal contours to the treatment area.

Dr. Peña offers PAL (power assisted liposuction), a technique that uses special surgical tools to break even the most tenacious fat deposits apart, allowing for more thorough removal of unwanted fat. Using this technique may also help reduce postoperative discomfort and can help shorten recovery. During your initial consultation, Dr. Peña would be happy to discuss liposuction in greater detail to help you determineif it is a good fit for your body.

Liposuction is an incredibly effective way to eliminate fat deposits that have failed to respond to diet and exercise, but it is not the most effective way to deal with loose skin, stretch marks, and other side-effects of weight gain. For those issues, lift or tuck procedures will need to be combined with liposuction.

Which lift or tuck procedure is right for you? Read on to learn more.

Tummy Tuck

Tummy Tuck Naples, FLTummy tuck (abdominoplasty) is designed to restore both strength and beauty to the entire midsection of the body. Tummy tuck surgery is used to:

  • Remove loose and sagging skin from the abdomen and hips
  • Draw in the waist
  • Reattach abdominal muscles that have separated (diastasis recti)

Deep core muscles can separate with weight gain and pregnancy. These muscles often cannot be restored through exercise, and failure to reattach them may increase chances for herniation. Tummy tuck surgery, while cosmetic in aim, addresses this medical issue to help prevent herniation and assist in rebuilding strength. Pulling the abdominal wall together also cinches the waist, producing more defined and pleasing contours throughout the midsection of the body.

Tummy tuck surgery is a popular option following both weight loss and pregnancy because it is capable of eliminating abdominal fat along with sagging skin, stretch marks, and other issues brought about by an expanding abdominal area.

Butt Lift

Dr. Peña offers the popular Brazilian Butt Lift, a procedure in which your own fat is used to augment, redefine, and enhance your backside. Butt lift surgery can be used to produce a fuller, firmer, and more lifted appearance, helping create ideal contours for your entire lower body.

To perform a butt lift, Dr. Peña will first need to select an area of your body through which fat can be extracted with liposuction. This allows the butt lift procedure to sculpt additional areas of the body while enhancing the derriere. Augmenting your buttocks with your own fat is also a longer-lasting and safer alternative to buttock implants which can be rejected by the body and cause serious complications.

Other Lift Procedures

In addition to liposuction, tummy tuck, and butt lift, Dr. Peña offers:

  • Thigh lift to sculpt the upper legs
  • Arm lift to eliminate loose and flabby arm skin
  • Neck lift to remove fat deposits in the chin and neck

Body lift surgery, a complex procedure in which multiple lift and tuck procedures are combined, is available for men and women experiencing diminished definition throughout the body. This particular option is often best as a post-bariatric surgery procedure as it addresses all of the issues brought about by rapid weight loss.

Mommy Makeover

The mommy makeover procedure combines body contouring options like liposuction and tummy tuck with breast surgery to fully address those areas most impacted by pregnancy and nursing. While not strictly a body contouring procedure, mommy makeover surgery often includes many of these services, enabling Dr. Peña to produce an appearance that is both womanly and youthful.

Each mommy makeover procedure is different because no two women experience identical changes following pregnancy. The best way to learn which body and breast procedures would be of most benefit to your body is through a one-on-one consultation at the Naples, Florida office of Peña Plastic Surgery.

Alternatives to Surgery

Surgical body contouring is incredibly effective, but it is entirely unnecessary for some patients. As alternatives to body contouring surgery, Dr. Peña is pleased to offer:

  • SculpSure® – Also known as “laser liposuction,” SculpSure® uses laser energy to emulsify fat deposits, allowing for their removal through the body’s natural process of elimination. This nonsurgical body contouring treatment can be used nearly anywhere liposuction can and is a wonderful alternative for people who are not interested in a more invasive procedure
  • Kybella® – Utilizing an acid extracted from the human body, Kybella® safely and effectively eliminates fat deposits underneath the chin. A nonsurgical alternative to neck lift for the removal of double chin, Kybella® can help redefine the jawline and restore a lifted and better-contoured appearance to the lower face
  • ThermiTight™ – ThermiTight™ uses radio frequency to stimulate collagen production and eliminate skin laxity throughout the body. As with its fellow Thermi products, ThermiSmooth™ for the face and ThermiVa™ for the vaginal area, ThermiTight™ does not address fat deposits, but it is a wonderful alternative to surgical lift procedures for patients who do not require fat removal as well

Choosing the Right Procedure for Your Needs

Dr. Peña offers many surgical and nonsurgical body contouring options to better serve the needs of people living throughout Southwest Florida. The best way to learn which of these is optimal for your needs is by calling our office at 239-348-7362 to schedule your confidential consultation with our board-certified plastic surgeon. This consultation will give you an opportunity to ask any questions you may have about your surgical options, our practice, financing, and other pertinent issues. It will also give Dr. Peña an opportunity to openly and honestly discuss our services, what you can expect from treatment, and how you can maintain your results following surgery.

Dr. Peña is a board-certified plastic surgeon with over 35 years of experience. He serves the Southwest Florida communities of Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Marco Island, and Estero from our comfortable and convenient Naples location.