Aside from the breathtaking beaches, Brazil is also known for its beautiful women. For this reason, some of those who are not naturally endowed with good looks may stick out like a sore thumb. However, beauty treatments in the country come at an exorbitant price; in fact one session of laser hair removal costs more than the average salary of a secretary.
With the goal to make cosmetic procedures accessible to poor people, the Brazilian Society of Aesthetic Medicine’s Rio clinic is offering free beauty treatments. And since the organization’s founding in 1997, it has treated more than 14,000 patients free of charge.
While in the US many people think that cosmetic procedures are “superfluous” and “unnecessary,” this is not the case in Brazil where it has almost become a social norm to go under the knife for the sake of improving the appearance. Also, the procedure is openly discussed in the country that many soap operas even include this in their plots.
As of this writing, about 220 beauty clinics across Brazil are offering free cosmetic procedures such as Botox injection, chemical peel, laser hair removal, and anti-cellulite treatment. But ironically, despite economic boom in the country and the growing popularity of aesthetic plastic surgeries, it is still battling diseases such as tuberculosis and malnutrition.
But still, some cosmetic doctors argue that aesthetic procedures—both surgical and non-invasive in nature—are more than skin deep.
“When we treat the wrinkle—that unimportant little thing—we are actually treating the patient’s self-esteem,” one doctor was quoted saying.
With more than 11.5 million plastic surgeries performed in Brazil, its aesthetic medical industry is one of the biggest in the world; in fact, some experts have even said that sooner or later it would topple the US as the biggest consumer of plastic surgery.
Despite the wide acceptance for plastic surgery in many parts of the world, some experts warn that this procedure should not be seen as a quick fix solution to every problem.
Leading Los Angeles plastic surgeon Dr. Tarick Smaili believes that despite the potent psychological benefits of cosmetic non-invasive treatments and surgeries, not everyone is a good candidate particularly when it comes to surgical procedures.
“Cosmetic plastic surgery is a real surgery. It simply means that unhealthy individuals and those who are suffering from psychological and emotional problems are not a good, or to put it more bluntly, a bad candidate because of the higher risks,” Smaili said.
In modern society, beauty and youth are the most sought-after physical attributes, which have resulted in an upswing in cosmetic plastic surgery. In fact, this sector is continuously growing in the US over the past couple of years even if medical spending has slowed down.
Our brains are hardwired to prefer symmetric face and body, which is a universal definition of beauty, because it often connotes health and virility, which are important for any species to spread its genes.
Since the latter half of the 20th Century, the US society has been more focused on physical improvements to the extent that beauty and youth have somewhat turned into a new indicator of social worth. This trend is different from many Eastern societies where age is concurrent with higher social status, respect, and prestige.
However, the quest for beauty is an age-old story that even literature has depicted women from ancient civilizations using vegetables dyes to color their faces, hair adornments, and clothing to enhance their appearance. For this reason, it would be safe to surmise that our desire for physical improvements is purely a human nature and deeply ingrained into who and what we are.
Going back to plastic surgery, the trend nowadays is facial rejuvenations such as facelift, Botox injection, and dermal fillers—procedures that aim to make the face look youthful.
According to a 1994 study, older women are mostly concerned with their face, which is why facelift and Botox injection are popular among them; while younger ones are more preoccupied with their body, which is why liposuction, breast augmentation, and other body contouring procedures are popular among this age group.
Nowadays, modern society—or at least in the US—physical signs of aging are somewhat seen as something which must be minimized or even eradicated; rather than being treated as completely natural and inevitable.
Employment is arguably the primary reason for the growing popularity of cosmetic plastic surgery. In fact, it is not uncommon for aging American workers to seek facelift, dermal fillers, and Botox injection believing that looking youthful would make them appear competitive against younger workers.
Some economists and even plastic surgeons believe that the condition of job market to some degree affects the plastic surgery trends. Because of insecurity and fear of appearing old and “incompetent,” Botox injection, chemical peels to remove wrinkles and age spots, and dermal filler treatments had skyrocketed during the recent economic slowdown.
Despite awareness campaigns tackling safe plastic surgery, it is surprising that a lot of people are still risking their own safety just to have a cheap procedure. Just recently, a Texas hairstylist was arrested on suspicion of performing breast augmentation surgery in a back room of her salon.
One of Carmel Foster’s alleged victims has been hospitalized for severe chest pains after receiving treatment from her. As of this writing, the woman remains in critical condition, her family said in an interview. (The photo below shows a mugshot of the suspect.)
As of to date, four women had filed a complaint against Foster who used an injection to perform the illegal breast augmentation. Meanwhile, the Federal Drug Administration took samples of the liquid gel to test what substances the suspect was using.
According to reports, the 38-year-old suspect has been charged with practicing medicine without a license, although she can bail out if she would be able to pay the $200,000 bond.
This is not the first time underground plastic surgery has made a headline. A few months ago, several women filed a complaint against a Florida transgender woman after she injected the victims’ buttocks with cement, oil, and tire sealant in an attempt to perform buttock augmentation.
With the concoction of deadly substances, one of the victims almost died. But surprisingly, the suspect even has the gall to say that they were just trying to ruin her life and reputation.
In the first place, why would she inject cement and tire sealant to their buttocks when common sense tells the obvious dangers?
What is more appalling to this kind of stories is that the victims—while they deserve sympathy for the things they have experienced—have allowed themselves to have the surgery in a not-so-professional-looking room, which is an already blatant sign the risks they were facing. In fact, most of botched plastic surgeries were performed in a house, salon, and even motel.
With the growing demand for cosmetic plastic surgery in the US, it is not surprising to see “quack doctors” trying to profit from the popularity of the procedure. And unfortunately, some people would fall victims just to have a cheap surgery—without realizing the fact that “quality” has and will never be cheap.
While plastic surgery in general is expensive, it should not be the reason to have it from unqualified practitioners or even “quack doctors” as botched results can lead to lifelong regrets and ruined appearance.
Another controversial story about plastic surgery has made headlines. Just recently, an organization of Buffalo bars has offered free breast implant surgery to the contestant who will collect the most number of beads during the Mardi Gras celebration.
(Throwing beads has been a long-standing tradition in Mardi Gras. Meanwhile, many people don’t know that each bead color has its symbol: purple represents justice, gold symbolizes power, and green signifies faith.)
Going back to the unconventional prize, the contest is open to men and women. While the main award is breast augmentation, the winner can opt for other cosmetic surgeries such as nose job (or rhinoplasty), tummy tuck, and other similarly priced procedures.
One manager of a nightclub believes that giving free plastic surgery “is an attention grabber,” according to the Buffalo News.
As expected, not everyone is happy with the contest. Some people have criticized it saying that it somewhat “reinforces poor body image in women.” However, there are those who have posted more positive comments on the event’s Facebook wall.
Meanwhile, this is not the first time plastic surgery has been used as a prize. A few months ago, two women in Chicago have won free breast augmentation given by a local radio station. The contestants were required to tell their reasons why they would want to undergo the knife.
A casino in Atlantic has also offered jackpot in the form of plastic surgery such as breast augmentation, cheek implants, and liposuction, in addition to non-surgical procedures such as Botox and dermal fillers. The contest, dubbed as the Tuck and Lift Sweepstakes, has surprisingly attracted many gamblers.
With the growing acceptance and popularity of cosmetic plastic surgery, more contests are expected to offer and raffle off this procedure. However, not everyone who wants to have some sort of “surgical enhancements” is a good candidate because of certain risks particularly for those with health issues and unrealistic goals and expectations.
With the growing popularity of plastic surgery in China, a film school has made it clear that anyone who alters his or her appearance will likely be disqualified from the entrance examination. Officials from the illustrious performance institute of Beijing Film Academy said that “changes in the faces and other body parts might affect the acting of students.”
Even students with tattoos may be disqualified from entrance examination.
Surprisingly, many people think the decision to ban those who had plastic surgery is “fair,” arguing that actors who had “surgical enhancements” are somewhat cheating.
Some people even say that plastic surgery is a fraud.
However, what they fail to realize is that plastic surgery is not all about looking better than others. For some people, this may be their only way to live a normal life, improve body functions, and repair deformities caused by illness and accidents. Does it mean individuals who had reconstructive plastic surgery are also banned from the film school?
One student’s parent even said that she agrees with the plastic surgery ban because “what matters is the performance and acting, not how a person looks.” With this argument, what is the point of excluding those who had “cosmetic enhancements” when their talent is the most important thing rather than their appearance?
And not to mention the freedom of choice. The choice to undergo “surgically-assisted beautification.”
Another potential loophole is that how on earth the film school’s officials can determine if someone had surgical enhancements or not? What kind of criteria they are going to use? Perhaps it would be too tedious to conduct background check for the sole purpose of determining if a student had plastic surgery or not.
Currently, eyelid surgery is one of the most common cosmetic plastic surgeries in China. And with 94 percent of the population consisting of Han people who usually lack a prominent eye crease, individuals with this feature may end up being accused of having “surgical enhancements” even if they did not.
The issues surrounding plastic surgery are somewhat analogous to guns. Guns are neither bad nor good as the situation depends on who will use them. The same thing is true in cosmetic surgical enhancements.
But perhaps the plastic surgery ban imposed by the prestigious film school has its own merits. According to the country’s health ministry, about 70 to 80 percent of those who seek cosmetic surgical enhancements are high school and college students who are too young to understand the ramifications of their decision.
Also, another concern is that teenagers are not yet physically mature to undergo cosmetic plastic surgery.