By Jo Marchant 

January 31, 2017 


Ana Maria has never been to Machu Picchu. The 61-year-old always wanted to

visit the mountain ruins but she suffers from hypertension, and doctors

warned that the extreme altitude could cause her blood pressure to rise

dangerously high. Today, dressed in a white gown and hairnet, she will

explore its ancient walls and pyramids for the first time.




She's in a private medical clinic in Mexico City, and laughs nervously as

she's wheeled into a windowless operating room. The surgeon takes a Sharpie

and draws a large circle on her left thigh, paints on several layers of

iodine, then injects a local anesthetic into the skin. Inside the circle is

a fatty lump, a lipoma around six centimeters across, which he is about to