Since 1997, the Brazilian Society of Aesthetic Medicine in Rio, Brazil has performed free procedures on more than 14,000 patients. This is aligned to its philosophy: Beauty is a right, and the poor also deserves to be ravishing. its 220 plastic surgery clinics extended services to maids, waitresses, receptionists, and other low-income citizens, inside and out of the country. This philosophy depicts the connotation of plastic surgery experts catering only to the needs of the elites.
Doctors argued that good looks are more than skin deep, and by treating physical flaws they were also healing their patients’ psyches. The doctors viewed plastic surgery procedures as acting the same way as psychoanalysis. for them, by helping the patients increase their self-esteem, the doctors are also helping them free from crippling neuroses. Paying attention and fixing minor flaws, such as wrinkles, can build up an important concept like self-esteem.
In a year, there are approximately more than 11.5 million plastic surgery operations being done in Brazil. Botox, breast augmentation and reduction, tummy tucks, and liposuction were among the prominent procedures. All these make Brazil popular in terms of pushing for cosmetic surgery tourism.
Currently, Brazil is known to be the world’s second largest consumer of plastic surgery, after the United States. Plastic surgery is already being viewed as a norm in the South American country. Actors in soap operas flaunt their frequent plastic surgery makeovers and a lot of local celebrities endorse undergoing operations by modelling in magazines featuring the concept of “plastic surgery and beauty.”
The increase in patronizing plastic surgery has also become a topic of debate in Brazil’s senate. some senators are questioning if the national government should continue to fully cover breast reconstruction for cancer patients. This issue was also connected to the funding of some surgeries to repair deformities or injuries, including reconstruction of cleft palates in children.
According to an anthropology professor at the University of Amsterdam, Alexander Edmonds, plastic surgery is becoming the standard of care among the middle class and elites in Brazil, and it’s not surprising that the lower class citizens are also demanding for it. Edmonds acknowledged plastic surgery’s psychological benefits; however, he considered Brazil’s pro-plastic surgery attitude as becoming dangerous.
Edmonds pointed out that the possible risks in these operations were not being emphasized. Brazilians start to view plastic surgery as a means of “beautification,” and because of this mentality, risks don’t appear to hold them back. as a proof, during those days wherein low-income people can sign-up for free or discounted cosmetic surgeries, long lines started to form in hospitals.
A 48-year-old secretary, Nilcea Furtado, waited three years for her first free laser treatment. According to her, since she was a teenager, she had lots of unwanted hair on her chin, and tried to get rid of it. Furtado lived on a small income that made it impossible for her to undergo laser hair removal treatment. through a free service offered in a local clinic, Furtado acquired six free laser hair removal sessions, making her chin silky smooth.
Despite the minimized projection of the possible risks of plastic surgery, it also served some advantages for hospitals. given that people are now more willing to undergo operations, new doctors were given more opportunities to hone their skills.
This reality of plastic surgery patronization in Brazil raised a question on the country’s economic and social needs. Despite Brazil’s surviving economic growth, should its government put priority on plastic surgery over other health services it should address?