Dr. Salamea

More than 2851 people have put their trust in Dr. Pablo Salamea’s skillful hands over the last six years.  Dr. Salamea is one of the foremost plastic surgeons in Cuenca, not only because of his extensive training and ability but also because of his humanitarian work.  In fact, he was the only physician from South American honored by Stanford University’s Resurge, International, in 2015 for his work providing surgery to needy children in Ecuador.

Todd and Mary Freeman of Helping Kids in Ecuador (HKIE) call Dr. Salamea, Saint Pablo.  He’s performed fifty surgeries for needy children in the past year and is the medical director of the volunteer medical organization.  The Freemans have been an integral part of every case Dr. Salamea’s done for HKIE, which includes cleft palate repair, reconstruction after burns, correction of birth defects, and even building ears for a child who was born without them.

One example is the case of a 14-year-old girl from a rural area who is the only child of a needy single mother. The young lady was born with a facial deformity and subjected to bullying and teasing on a daily basis.  By the time she was 14, she felt so ugly that she wanted to quit school and hide away from the world.  Her situation was brought to HKIE, and Dr. Salamea was able to repair her face in less than 90 minutes.  “He is Picasso with a scalpel,” says Todd Freeman.  “We see the parents of Dr. Salamea’s patients’ cry when they see the results of his work.  Sometimes they hardly recognize the child. It is truly a miracle.”

Dr. Salamea grew up in Cuenca and spent 12 years training to become a plastic surgeon, including study and training in Guayaquil, Brazil, and the United States.  He specializes in both reconstructive and aesthetic surgery for patients of all ages.  Dr. Salamea is an officer of the prestigious Plastic Surgery Society and was honored by the Cuenca Chamber of Commerce for his service to the community.  He also provides aesthetic procedures to Miss Cuenca and Miss Ecuador contestants.

He chose plastic surgery because each patient presents a challenge and an opportunity to change lives.  Dr. Salamea enjoys seeing fast results from his work.  Instead of waiting months to see how a medication treats an illness, he can go in and repair a birth defect, injury, or cosmetic issue and his patient enjoys the immediate improvement.

Unfortunately, it is possible to purchase a certification in Plastic Surgery without the proper training.  Dr. Salamea urges all expats considering plastic surgery to ensure the physician they are considering is not only a certified plastic surgeon but is a member of the Plastic Surgery Society, which reviews all applicants and ensures they are properly trained and perform surgery with high levels of safety.  Go to www.secpre.ec for more information.  There are just sixteen plastic surgeons in Cuenca who are vetted and active in the Plastic Surgery Society.  Dr. Salamea was elected the secretary of that organization for this year.

A typical day for Dr. Salamea includes time spent at Hospital Del Rio, where he is the Head of the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Department, and at Hospital Vincent Corral Moscoso, the government hospital which provides care without payment to all patients. Only reconstructive surgery is provided at Hospital Moscoso, such as repairing a face after a car accident, or skin grafts after severe burns. Hospital De Rio provides a modern, safe, and high-tech surgical environment for cosmetic procedures as well as reconstruction.

According to Dr. Salamea, his expat patients, are delighted with the care they receive at Hospital Del Rio because of the strong focus on patient safety.  When he does a surgical procedure, there are two plastic surgeons, two anesthesiologists, a general surgeon, and a nurse in the operating room. Dr. Salamea’s two brothers are physicians, one a general surgeon and one anesthesiologist.  He enjoys working with them on his surgical team because all three brothers share the same high regard for patient safety and satisfaction.

Many expats turn to Dr. Salamea for cosmetic procedures.  In the United States, cosmetic procedures are very costly.  A tummy tuck with liposuction can run up to twenty thousand dollars.  Dr. Salamea’s fees are around six thousand for the same procedure.  In December and July, Dr. Salamea treats many people from the United States, who come to Cuenca just for surgery.  They stay in Cuenca for a couple of weeks and then return home. Dr. Salamea and his staff help coordinate recovery at a hotel which provides meals and other care to aid in an easy recuperation.

Expats who live in Ecuador make up about 15 percent of Dr. Salamea’s current case load.  He anticipates serving forty to fifty expats this year and finds the number growing annually.  “When expats find they can enhance their appearance safely and affordably here in Cuenca, many have procedures they’ve always wished for but never felt they could afford,” says Dr. Salamea.  Both male and female expats turn to plastic surgery to enhance their appearances.

The most popular aesthetic surgeries for expats include face lifts, eye lifts, tummy tucks, liposuction, Botox injections, and chemical peels.  Dr. Salamea performs all these procedures at Hospital Del Rio.  It is important to ensure that all patients have general good health before undergoing a surgical procedure. Dr. Salamea begins each new patient with an interview which includes a thorough health history and consultation on the desired outcomes of the procedure. Then, Dr. Salamea orders tests and lab work including blood work and an echocardiogram.  One he has reviewed these test results, the surgery is scheduled.  “Sixty percent of my expat patients can go home the same day as their surgery, “says Dr. Salamea.  “The other stay one or two nights at Hospital Del Rio and then complete their recovery at home.”  Hospital Del Rio has some English speaking nurses and a special English-speaking liaison who is available to assist expats with less-than-fluent Spanish.

Between his work at the two hospitals and his volunteer service with Heling Kids in Ecuador, Dr. Salamea also travels around Ecuador doing medical missions for remote areas with the Fundation Rostras Felices.  These medical trips are offered in conjunction with medical schools in Ecuador as well as in the United States and give Dr. Salamea the opportunity to train residents and provide much needed surgical services to those with few monetary resources.

Additionally, Dr. Salamea became the medical director of a brand new volunteer organization, BRAINS (Brigada de Atencion integral de Salud). BRAINS is a organization of volunteer doctors, dentists and medical students from Cuenca that will go on medical missions offering medical care to less fortunate children throughout Ecuador. Many of the families in the remote areas of Ecuador have very limited availability to proper medical care.

During these medical missions, any child needing medical care will be treated by the BRAINS volunteers. Any child needing a surgery will come under the care of Dr. Salamea who will access each child and determine the proper surgeon on a case by case basis.

BRAINS did a medical and dental screening at the Cuenca orphanage Hogar Miguel Leon in late January in conjunction with Ecuador Cares and HKIE.

When asked why he does so much charity work and serves as the medical director for HKIE, BRAINS, and Fundation Rostras Felices, Dr. Salamea credits Todd and Mary Freeman as well as the other expat volunteers who do so much good in Ecuador. He says, “I see many expats come to Ecuador who could just retire and enjoy life.  Instead, they do so much to help others.  These expats inspire me to do more for my community.  I’m so delighted to work with HKIE and the other volunteer organizations that I have persuaded my physician colleagues, both at Hospital Del Rio and other hospitals, to save more lives by providing medical care to those who need it but lack funds.”

If you are interested in shaving a few years off of your appearance or correcting a physical problem, contact Dr. Salamea for an initial consultation at Hospital Del Rio.  His email address is

psalameam@gmail.com. You may also contact his office by calling

(+593 7) 459 555 Ext. 2243 or reach him via cell at 0987219725

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