Double-board Certified in Otolaryngology and Facial Plastic Surgery, and the only board certified facial plastic surgeon in the Rio Grande Valley, a clinical associate professor of surgery at the UTRGV School of Medicine, a retired military man, Dr. Carlos Ayala is a multi-faceted physician.
I knew I wanted to be a doctor since I was a kid,” he said. “I went to my mom’s doctor’s appointments with her to translate and learned all the complicated lingo. Though I was born and raised in the Bronx, New York, and learned English in school, I lived in a home where no one spoke English. I decided I wanted to be a doctor because I wanted to help people like my mom. I saw the doctor helping her and thought it was great.”
Entering the Navy after graduating from high school, he worked his way up through the ranks until he obtained a scholarship to college, after which he received his commission as a Navy officer. When the Navy didn’t have the scholarships available for medical school, Dr. Ayala joined the Air Force where he finished his medical education. Graduating from UCLA, School of Medicine, he went to Harvard for his Ear, Nose and Throat residency.
“I chose Ear, Nose and Throat because it’s one of the most complicated areas in the body, very intricate,” he said. But Dr. Ayala is not one to stop at just one specialty, and the military gave him incentive to pursue another field. “We need people to help fix our wounded warriors, our troops. They’re coming back from the war severely disfigured and they deserve to look as normal as possible,” the military told him.
Competing within the Air Force and against civilian doctors throughout the United States, Dr. Ayala was selected to train in the sub-specialty of Facial Plastic Surgery in Beverly Hills. Training at the prestigious Beverly Hills Lasky Clinic taking care of superstars and learning about aesthetics, he worked with UCLA at the VA Hospital and with USC at the LA County Hospital.
Ready to help the warriors, the Air Force sent him to Afghanistan. “It was amazing to be able to help even though it was difficult to be there,” he said. “There’s a lot of trauma. It’s not just the soldiers; it’s the Afghan children who were being blown up.”
Retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel after 29 years serving our country, Dr. Ayala took the advice of his mentor and came to the Valley. “I wanted to go where I could serve others like I did in the military, someplace where I would be needed,” he said. With his ENT and Facial Plastic Surgery practice, there are multiple levels of care. Dealing with allergies, sleep medicine, hearing, and sinus surgery is all part of the medical side.
In the plastic surgery side, he not only performs cosmetic surgery, but also reconstructive surgery. Dr. Ayala wrote a chapter on Orbital and Nasal Ethmoid Fractures in the Army Surgeon General’s newly commissioned book written by the ENTs and plastic surgeons who had been in the war. Not one to sit on his laurels, Dr. Ayala is planning his curriculum as a Clinical Associate Professor of Surgery at UTRGV’s School of Medicine.
“Ultimately what I enjoy most is helping people. I’m passionate about it,” he said.