Charity: Living Free Animal Sanctuary

By Heidi Simmons

“My dad was a surgeon and I wanted to follow in his footsteps, but I never believed I was smart enough nor did I have the confidence to pursue it,” said Maria Lombardo, DO. “So instead I went to art school.”

Lombardo studied painting and serigraphy — screen printing — at DePaul University in Chicago where she earned a degree in fine arts. “Looking back at my art work, I see a lot of figurative paintings and prints with surgical and medical images,” said Lombardo. “I guess there was always that cosmetic surgeon in me.”

At age 25, Lombardo took a trip to Thailand with a friend that changed how she saw the world. She spent a month there traveling. “I’d never been anywhere like it,” said Lombardo. “The people, the language, the rain forests — it was like nothing I had ever experienced. When I came back, I realized I could do whatever I put my mind to.”


Lombardo returned to Chicago and went back to school to study chemistry to fulfill the requirements for medical school. She attended Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine where she discovered her passion for surgery.

In 2008, Lombardo came to Palm Springs to join a medical practice. After a year, she started her own practice. “I have the greatest job in the universe,” said Lombardo. “I get to make people feel good about themselves.”

Lombardo opened a brand new office last year in Rancho Mirage. “I do a little bit of everything,” said Lombardo. “Primarily, I specialize in breast and body surgery, facial fillers and Botox.”

“The fact that my work is creative is tremendously fulfilling,” said Lombardo. “I truly believe I make art every day. The human body has become my canvas now. It is an endlessly creative challenge to try to meet someone’s expectations and make the best of someone surgically or with fillers. I get to be a sculptor every day and that is just fun!”

Some people think a cosmetic doctor only uses fillers. Lombardo does surgical procedures and uses injectables. “I like to think that I am really good at what I do,” said Lombardo. “We get a lot of patient feedback and it’s very rewarding to know that my patients feel comfortable with me. I try to have a relationship with my patients beyond just being their physician. I genuinely care about how my patients look and feel.”

Lombardo grew up in Chicago and her family is still there. She is married and her husband is a practicing attorney.

To relax and unwind, Lombardo cooks. “I love food and I love to cook!” said Lombardo. “I am very interested in the “Paleo” movement and emphasize healthy foods that taste great! I love to try new recipes, new spices, and I especially love to introduce others to the idea that healthy food is not boring or flavorless.”

Lombardo’s favorite movie is Working Girl and she loves the music of the Eurythmics. “Annie Lennox is simply amazing!” Lombardo and her husband like to vacation in Grand Cayman. “The island and its people are wonderful, 7-mile beach is beautiful and the SCUBA diving is exceptional!”

People Lombardo most admires are “underdogs.” “I respect all those who fight for what they believe in,” said Lombardo. “I am inspired by people who struggle and work hard to succeed and never give up!”

Most of Lombardo’s business comes from patient referrals. “They come in already knowing all about me,” said Lombardo. “They are particularly interested in my dog George.”

George is Lombardo’s mixed breed (Chihuahua?) rescue. “I’m hoping when he gets older and has more maturity, he can come back into the office again. He had a tendency to bark.” Lombardo grew up always having pets.

Dr Maria Lombardo“I’m a huge animal rescue advocate,” said Lombardo. “Living Free is a wonderful organization that saves animals that are scheduled for shelter euthanasia. The goal to end suffering of all animals is one I feel very strongly about. Animals enhance our lives immensely and I encourage people to open their hearts to the rescue world. It’s worth it.”

Every October, Lombardo hosts a “Boo” – tox Costume Party for patients and their pets. She gives discounts on services and a percentage goes to Living Free Animal Sanctuary.

Lombardo has been recognized and honored for her work, but she is most proud of her involvement with the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery and the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, two national organizations dedicated to the education and certification of Cosmetic Surgeons and patient safety.

“I was appointed to the ABCS Board of Trustees last year and could not be more honored to be a part of shaping the future of my profession and specialty,” said Lombardo. “I love my work and take what I do seriously, but I also have lots of fun.”

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