A native of Laredo, Texas, Dr. Cigarroa graduated from J. W. Nixon High School. After completing high school, he earned a bachelor's degree from Yale in 1979 and received his medical degree from The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas in 1983. He was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha, the national honor medical society. During his twelve years of postgraduate training, Dr. Cigarroa was chief resident at Harvard's teaching hospital, Massachusetts General in Boston, and completed a fellowship at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore.
He is a son of Laredo physician and Mrs. Joaquin Gonzalez Cigarroa, Jr.