Brazilians and Plastic Surgery. There is really so much to say about this I don't know where to start. It may explain why I`ve left it late in my time here in Brazil to try and write something that makes sense of Brazilians undying fascination with aesthetics and feminine beauty. Brazilians love plastic surgery; especially, but not only, women. I think I always though plastic surgery was for the slightly mentally unhinged, people with too much money and not enough sense. But, here in Brazil people I know, trust and respect want plastic surgery, and some have even had it.
One man who has done more for plastic surgery in Brazil compared to any other is Ivo Pitanguy. I read an article about him as preparation for the CELPE-Bras exam I did a few months back. He calls himself a restorer of well-being, bringing together the image people want for themselves and the reality. Here is a great article over at Brazilmax.com about his work and why plastic surgery is so popular in this country. Pitanguy is the father of plastic and cosmetic surgery in Brazil and has numerous world-renowned clinics and schools, and he has treated the rich and famous from Europe and North America.
He shot to fame in a story which should be made into a film, if it hasn`t already. A fire in a circus in 1961 caused a tent to fall on 2,500 spectators. Pitanguy worked for weeks in an emergency capacity operating on skin wounds and burns. It was there, he says, that he realised that physical appearance was critical to living. He saved the life of a young burn victim, successfully grafted new skin onto the boy's body and the lad recovered and went on to be a plastic surgeon learning at Pitanguy's own school. For Brazilians, a story like that puts Pitanguy in a category along with all the greats this country has brought to the world. Pitanguy to his credit is a philanthropist and offers cheap or free surgery to the poorest of the poor.
But, not all are so quick to praise him. "He's not talented. He's just lucky". So says one of my students, a quiet, reflective private English learner who is also a plastic surgeon and a very important one at that. Tony Maloney (as we call him) fixes the problems other plastic surgeons make. He is 40 but aims to retire when he's 45 having made his fortune. Then, in his own words, he can stay at home, read and watch films. More on Tony's views of plastic surgery tomorrow...