Brazil, home to the girl from Ipanema and the thong bikini, is unsurprisingly one of the most dynamic markets for aesthetic medicine in the world. With its outdoorsy culture and tropical temper, beauty has always played a central role in its social life.

For women, looking good and staying beautiful has long been a powerful status symbol; an aspiration now largely shared by increasing numbers of men. Boosted by a fast growing economy, Brazilian women find themselves with larger disposable incomes to invest in skincare as well as face rejuvenating and body contouring treatments.

Being beautiful is largely embedded in Brazilian culture. In the country of samba and carnival, women want to be beautiful and take great care of their appearance: they don’t want their faces to show signs of age, and wrinkles must be kept at bay.

The pressure to keep a perfect body for as long as possible is very high in Brazil. This obsession with being attractive may largely be explained by the country’s mixed cultural heritage, but also by virtue of its tropical location, which means the women are likely to fight the heat and humidity by shedding layers. This surely makes women pay greater attention to keep a perfectly sculpted body. All this has boosted what is now the world’s second largest plastic surgery market.

The Brazilian market: right behind the USA

Brazil is one of the leading consumer markets for plastic surgery in the world, with the second largest number of specialists after the USA , according to data from the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS). Followed by China, Brazil is host to 5024 physicians, or 15.8% of the total number of plastic surgeons in the world. The country also ranks second in terms of surgical procedures, totalling 905124 in 2010.

Brazilians are mad about lipoplasty, breast augmentation, blepharoplasty and abdominoplasty: all obvious choices for a beach‑centred South American country. And in a country of sun-worshippers, the number one procedure is the eponymous butt lift.

Although the number of non-invasive procedures is also growing, the rhythm of growth is not as fast as that witnessed in the plastic/cosmetic surgery market. Brazilians do not seem as keen on non-invasive procedures, which can be carried out by dermatologists, and not just plastic surgeons. The worldwide current trend, which sees patients postponing or selecting less‑invasive options — even though the results will not be as permanent — is less evident in Brazil.

A lucrative and attractive market

Many doctors, such as gynaecologists, have begun to put their specialty aside to focus on the increasingly lucrative cosmetic surgery market. Interestingly, cosmetic medicine is not recognised by the Brazilian national medical regulatory body — El Conselho Federal de Medicina — as a specialisation, and is regarded as being a postgraduate qualification. This course takes approximately 2 years to complete, and has no other entry requirements than a doctor’s qualification for enrollment, which technically means a general practitioner (GP) should be able to carry out surgical procedures in aesthetic medicine after completing the course.