CRESTVIEW — Crestview has a new surgeon and a familiar face all in one person.

Dr. Daran Mason made his return to Crestview over a month ago. He was born in Fort Walton Beach but lived in Crestview after his birth.

Mason, a former Bulldog, participated in a gifted program offered at Crestview High School, where he chose a profession and had the opportunity to shadow someone in the field.

"I actually shadowed (Dr. Dennis Stewart) in the fall of '91, and I thought that was something I wanted to do," Mason said.

Mason returned to Dr. Stewart, a general surgery specialist in Crestview, and stayed with him for a year.

It wasn't until Mason graduated from Crestview High School in 1992 that he moved out of the area. He attended the University of Florida for its accelerated program but decided he wanted to travel outside of Florida for medical school.

After graduating in 2003 from medical school at The American University of the Caribbean, Mason moved to Mobile, where he completed his general surgery residency at the University of South Alabama.

Part of Mason's decision to come back to the area involved his 9-year-old son, Jennings, who is autistic. He said his family saved money by moving to Florida because of the state's special-needs benefits that Alabama does not have. Mason, his wife, and their two sons currently reside in Fort Walton Beach, where Jennings attends a special-needs school.

Although he does not live in the city, Mason said he wanted to work in Crestview because it's a "better fit" than Fort Walton Beach.

"It's exciting to be able to see some people and communicate with them on a different level of more familiarity other than just helping them with their medical problems," he said.

Dr. Mason's practice manager, Darlene Pourcillie, said that in the first week of opening his office, Dr. Mason had members of the community that have known him for years stop by and say hello.

"It was really good to see the community come and welcome him," Pourcillie said

Mason brings a unique aspect to our community, the da Vinci Surgical System. This system uses robotic technology, which keeps the surgeon from having to directly touch the patient.

"As a physician, the robot doesn't do anything. It's not on auto pilot," Mason said. "I do everything. It's like my puppet."

The benefit of the robotic technology is the surgeon's ability to be more precise and accurate during a surgery, which has proven to reduce patient's pain, Mason said.

Mason's office is located at the North Okaloosa Medical Center at 550 W. Redstone Ave.