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  Life   More Features  20 Feb 2017  Achieving the American dream

Achieving the American dream

Published : Feb 20, 2017, 12:56 am IST
Updated : Feb 20, 2017, 6:40 am IST

From a young man landing with $8 and a one way ticket in New York, Dr Mohan Thomas has become an internationally renowned cosmetic surgeon.

Mohan Thomas (Photo: Subeesh M. Velayudh)
 Mohan Thomas (Photo: Subeesh M. Velayudh)

Mohan Thomas remembers that it was an extremely cold day when he landed in New York in the late 70s, with a one way ticket, three sets of clothes and a jacket besides eight dollars. Of course, he also had a bachelor’s degree in dentistry. Almost immediately, he knocked at the door of a CEO at a hospital there. It was the time of Jimmy Carter and the economy was not exactly in the pink of health. They did not have a vacancy but he was hired as an ‘extern’. “Americans are generous,” says Mohan Thomas, who is today an internationally renowned cosmetic surgeon.

His first pay cheque was worth a mere $100 out of which $34 went for his dormitory. “Coffee was free at the hospital and I had but one meal a day,” he remembers. After six months, his salary was doubled. He worked 18 hours a day and within a year, passed his licensure exam.


Survival came naturally to him. His dad had migrated from Thiruvalla in Kerala to Mumbai to make ends meet. He had never stepped foot in a college but stressed the importance of education to Mohan Thomas and his siblings. Not surprisingly, Mohan Thomas soon enrolled with the medical college of Pennsylvania and took his degree in general surgery and then post graduate degree in cosmetic surgery and even went on to write text books.

Seven years after he made that all-important trip to the US, when his dad visited him, he already had his own place to live and a car. “I can’t forget the joy that I saw on his face,” shares the proud doctor.


He went on to serve as the chairman of facial plastic and reconstructive surgery at the Hospital for Joint Diseases and Orthopedic Institute, New York. Though he has shifted base to Mumbai, he still serves as a clinical professor of surgery at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and a visiting scholar at the Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York. Few Indians before him had risen to such heights in these esteemed institutions.

After more than two decades, he returned to Mumbai to bring to India the kind of innovations that he was privy to in his chosen field. He joined the Beach Candy hospital and worked there for a while before setting up his own institute of cosmetic surgery in Santa Cruz.


A pioneer in introducing various cosmetic treatment options in India, he says, “From a nascent stage, things have changed and cosmetic surgery is now the subject of coffee talk. If you take the hair replacement surgery for instance, earlier only actors, politicians, godmen and celebs used to do it but now everybody does it.” His package called Mummy Makeover for women to get back to shape after delivery has been a huge hit. He also gets overseas clients from various countries and he has served in the committee to advise the Centre on medical tourism.

A member of various international bodies, he was recently elected to the board of trustees of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, giving him opportunities to travel the world. Only to always return to where he belongs.


Tags: mohan thomas, jimmy carter, cosmetic surgeon