March 31, 2012

Free Plastic Surgery Makes Brazil's Poor Beautiful

When you consider the many health-related services that could benefit the world's poor, check-ups, immunizations, and dental care are probably some of the first options that come to mind. If you even think of plastic surgery (and most people wouldn't), it is likely to be the very last item on a long list of potential assistance required by the under-served masses. And yet, it seems that beggars can't be choosers. The industry has become so popular in Brazil (which ranks second in the world for plastic surgery consumption) that many clinics are now offering discounts and even free procedures to the poverty-stricken masses in an effort to give something back to the community and offer underprivileged parties an opportunity to improve their lot. If it sounds strange to you, just imagine how people who can't even pay for an annual pap test feel.

In truth, there is actually some merit to this idea. Consider what it means to be an ugly duckling (so to speak) in a society where beauty is prized. If you're born into money you'll probably be okay either way. But if you're dealt the disastrous double-whammy of being both cash-poor and poor looking your chances for social advancement are slim, as are your odds of digging your way out of poverty. Even genius-level individuals in this situation may be tempted to give up on their dreams simply because they are so beaten down by their economic and social circumstances. According to the plastic surgeons that are offering services for free, cosmetic changes small and large (from fillers to rhinoplasty) have the potential to drastically improve self-esteem, which is essential to personal betterment, as well as increasing prospects for jobs, relationships, and everything that makes life worthwhile.

It may seem superficial, but these doctors have a point. A person's appearance can have a major impact on their self-esteem, which in turn affects their behavior. Something as simple as clearing up acne can make a person far more confident, and plastic surgery merely takes this principle to the next level. Of course, there are certainly detractors who find this practice reprehensible. After all, these doctors could be offering actual health services that people desperately need instead of putting them under the knife for purely cosmetic purposes. But the naysayers haven't stopped many clinics from providing what they see as a worthwhile service.

In fact, UK publication The Daily Mail recently reported that of the 220 Brazilian clinics offering discounts, one in Rio has clocked upwards of 14,000 free surgeries over the last 15 years. That's a lot of poor people looking better than they did before. Sadly, there is no corresponding information to tell us if these people fared better afterwards, and whether they attributed any following successes (or failures) to their free plastic surgery. Some doctors do put their money and skills to admirable use by founding surgical hospitals or offering reconstructive surgery to accident victims. But by and large the free procedures are what the average person might deem unnecessary.

Of course, anyone who can get the procedures but avoid paying high plastic surgery prices can't complain too much. And perhaps these doctors are right: although a boost to self-esteem cannot be quantifiably measured, that doesn't mean it can't have intrinsic value. In any case, getting something for nothing is nearly always a bargain. And a country filled with beautiful people (even amongst the poor) is just good business.

(Guest Post by Carol Montrose)

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  1. Is this really free? If it is that is really great,I won't hesitate to go! I wish there is the same thing here at my town as well.

  2. How nice of them to provide free plastic surgery. I hope they do that in my country too. Sad. I always wanted to make my nose sharper!


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