Why Brazil loves nip and tuck, as told by country’s plastic surgery ‘maestro’

If anyone had told the early plastic surgeons that buttock enlargements and vaginal rejuvenation would one day become a billion-dollar global industry led byBrazil, they would probably have been laughed out of the operating room.

But when the great and good of lasers and liposuction convened for the world’s biggest cosmetic surgery conference at the weekend, they did so in Rio de Janeiro. And the keynote speaker was a Brazilian.

“Even 20 years ago, there was a prejudice against aesthetic surgery and doubts about its importance,” Ivo Pitanguy, the country’s most celebrated plastic surgeon, told the Guardian. “I tried to show that it goes deeper than the skin, that it goes inside the soul.”

He may have succeeded. Pitanguy, now 90, is a celebrity on a par with Pele and Ronaldo. In Brazil, they call him the “the philosopher of plastic surgery” and simply “the maestro” – a man who has done more than any other to catapult Brazil to the vanguard of the nip and tuck. For the first time this year, Brazil overtook the United States as the world leader for cosmetic operations, according to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

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