Brazilian aesthetics caters to all social classes

Plastic surgery in Brazil has now become the norm and ‘the standard of care’ not only among the middle and upper classes, but also for those on a tighter budget, according to Alexander Edmonds, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam and author of Pretty Modern.

Brazil has made itself famous for offering cosmetic procedures for free or at discounted rates for people with less disposable income. More than 220 clinics across the country have been giving free‑of-charge treatments to thousands of minimum wage employees. The Brazilian Society of Aesthetic Medicine’s clinic in Rio de Jainero has performed free procedures for more than 14000 patients since it opened in 1997

The reasoning behind this is that good looks are more than skin deep — argue its supporters — that correcting what people do not like about their face or body might help them to feel better about themselves, and offer some form of psychological healing. Beauty is a right, and the poor deserve to be ravishing too.

This philosophy has been pioneered over the past few decades by one of the most celebrated plastic surgeons in the world: Ivo Pitanguy. The surgeon has single-handedly crafted Brazil’s reputation as a world leader and a top destination for aesthetic surgery tourism. Surgical interventions in Brazil can cost half, or even a quarter, of what it could be in North America. As a result, the lower price point and strong reputation have made the country a highly attractive destination for women searching for aesthetic treatments abroad.

Owing to the large number of clinics, many of the treatments offered are affordable and payments can be made in installments, which is encouraging young and old people alike, and from every level of society, to go ‘under the knife’.

Younger patients have been increasingly visiting cosmetic clinics in Brazil. Looking gorgeous and conforming to society’s idea of ‘being beautiful’ has become a big issue for the younger generation. From carnival parades to high school proms, a larger number of teenagers and young adults are visitingcosmetic surgeons to change certain aspects of their appearance.

An older generation vying for a youthful look is also turning to the scalpel in a bid to to keep, or improve, their looks. As life expectancy is expanding, the ‘baby boom’ generation is keen to remain healthy and good looking for as long as possible.

The non-invasive facial rejuvenation market

Living under the tropical sun, women in Brazil are keen to correct and prevent lines and wrinkles. But as sun worshippers, the Brazilian population put their skin at greater risk of photodamage, so treating sun spots and hyperpigmentation is big business.

As in major Western countries, botulinum toxins and dermal fillers are the top non-invasive procedures to rejuvenate the face, and the two procedures are often combined to achieve better and more natural results. The market for volumising the face in Brazil is not completely centred around the hyaluronic acid dermal filler family, however, with poly-L- lactic acid dermal fillers also doing well. These fillers are known to work particularly well in the lower half of the face, to fill the lines caused by laughing and to augment thin lips — a great treatment to correct nasolabial folds, marionette lines and chin wrinkles. The formula is unlike other dermal fillers because it doesn’t produce immediate results; rather, it stimulates the body’s own collagen production so that results gradually appear over a period of a few months. They use the only US Food and Drug Administration (FDA )‑approved product — Sculptra — which is also growing in popularity throughout North America and Europe.

Facial lipofilling, also referred to as autologous fat grafting, is another popular procedure to improve skin quality, volume restoration, and contouring of the face. In this procedure, small volumes of fat are removed from certain areas of the body, such the inner thighs, for use in the jaw, periorbital, temple and perimandibular regions, as well as other creases that may deepen over the years.

Facial bioplasty (polymethylmetacrilate; PMMA) injections are another popular procedure in Brazil, often used for buttock augmentation; although this remains very much a local trend as it has not been gaining currency in other countries.

Applied to the face, bioplasty is a technique that restores lost volume and improves the look of angles, enhancing them and making the face more defined and sharp. Bioplasty works well on the mandibular line to correct a sagging jawline and chin, and is also popular for nose reshaping. The technique consists of the injection, with a microcannula, of biomaterial implants (i.e. PMMA) that stimulate the formation of new collagen. Not new to medicine, these implants have been used for a few decades as bone cement in femur prosthesis, for instance.