As a decorated Air Force veteran and plastic surgeon, Dr. Jose Barrera's storied past shaped the industry leader he is today.
San Antonio has one of the largest concentrations of military bases and military veterans in the U.S. and was dubbed "Military City USA" before the city officially trademarked the phrase in 2017. Within this community of military veterans, a Texas Innovator, Dr. Jose Barrera, is pushing the boundaries of plastic surgery.
Dr. Barrera is the medical director and owner of the Texas Center for Plastic and Laser Surgery, as well as a Med Spa, Rejuve MD, and a sleep and sinus institute, Endormir. He specializes in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery with an emphasis on the aging face, rhinoplasty, and the surgical treatment of sleep-disordered breathing and craniofacial anomalies for both adult and pediatric patients.
Dr. Barrera's Beginnings
Dr. Barrera immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic with his mother, who had a student visa, in 1978. They initially made their way to New York City before moving to Providence, R.I. From a young age, Dr. Barrera was instilled with a strong work ethic, as his mother and stepfather were business owners, running a restaurant that served Peruvian and Dominican Caribbean cuisine. Dr. Barrera worked as a short-order cook and waitstaff, learning how to manage the restaurant along the way.
During this time, his parents told him that as long he was busy at school or doing something constructive, he didn't need to work at the restaurant. A young Dr. Barrera found many productive things to do; he joined the Boy Scouts, became an Eagle Scout, ran track and cross country, and later worked his way up to the New England championship level in the 800m and cross country. Finally, he graduated as class president and valedictorian.
All because he didn't want to work at that restaurant.
Air Force Career & Medical Aspirations
Dr. Barrera's stud academic and athletic status led to his recruitment and nomination by his two senators, propelling him through the Air Force Academy in 1989, where he attended the Academy's Preparatory School before going to the school "up on the hill." He majored in biochemistry and graduated with military distinction, which allowed him to receive a coveted health professions scholarship to go to medical school.
During his tenure in medical school at the University of Colorado, Dr. Barrera fell in love with the anatomy of the head and neck and found a desire to be an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) surgeon. He began research in genomics and head and neck cancer in a lab for the last two years of medical school, where he published papers that caught the attention of the Chairman, Dr. Bruce Jafek. His excellence led to a residency where only three applicants out of 50 were accepted.
Dr. Barrera has excelled in both his medical aspirations and military operations throughout his career. After completing his residency, the Air Force sent him to Tokyo to practice at the Yokota Air Base. Dr. Barrera highlighted that this significant move was made possible by the love and support of his wife, Dena, who was caring for a young child with another one on the way. For the first three years of his career, Dr. Barrera was in charge of all head, neck, and ENT surgery for the airbase and the entire mainland of Japan.
Don't worry; he got to fly some planes while he was there.
A Legacy of Excellence
Returning from Japan, Dr. Barrera received an Arthur S. Flemming Award from George Washington University and was recognized as the clinical researcher of the year at the Department of Defense. These accolades led him on the path to being accepted into a dual fellowship program at Stanford University to become certified in plastic surgery, craniofacial surgery, and sleep apnea surgery. He completed the program in 2008 and continued to train with the world's best, later inventing Sleep MRI, leading to multiple patents for Dr. Barrera.
Finally, Dr. Barrera found his way to San Antonio, becoming chief of sleep apnea and craniofacial surgery at Lackland Air Force Base. In 2010, he deployed to Afghanistan as the only plastic and ENT surgeon on base. Dr. Barrera operated on local children with clefts, ear deformities, and scars of war that were brought in by patrols. After this deployment, he served the rest of his active duty commitment as the chief of facial plastic surgery at the San Antonio Military Medical Center and as the chairman of the department of otolaryngology for both the Army and the Air Force. Dr. Barrera led 70 people in the department, 17 surgeons, and 12 residents until 2014.
After serving his active duty commitment in the Air Force, Dr. Barrera joined the Air Force Reserves and currently serves as a Colonel. Today, Dr. Barrera owns and operates his three-pronged practice in San Antonio, focusing on rhinoplasty and facelift surgery to serve its diverse population.
Through persistence and an unwavering passion, Dr. Jose Barrera has established himself as a true Texas Innovator.
Looking for more information?
View the first episode of TXi Presents: Business Around the Table with Jason Halsey to experience Dr. Barrera's story further.