Pandemic lockdown fuels plastic surgery boom in Brazil

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Sao Paulo (AFP)

Mirrors don’t lie, nor the screen during a video conference: the virus-induced lockdown has led many Brazilians to undergo plastic surgery to look better.

With trips canceled and restaurants closed for the most part, many have additional cash to carry out such procedures.

Regiane de Oliveira Sousa, a 38-year-old sales representative from Sao Paulo, took advantage of working from home to enhance her personal beauty.

In the past six months, she has had time for cosmetic peels, breast reduction surgery, liposuction to remove unwanted fat, and facial tone treatment.

“Friends of mine have also taken advantage of teleworking to do these surgeries,” she told AFP.

“When we stay at home, we have more time to look at ourselves in the mirror, because we no longer have this hectic life, where we are constantly moving,” said de Oliveira Sousa, who is about to receive an acid plumping the lips. injection in a clinic in an upscale neighborhood of Sao Paulo.

Cost of the procedure: 3,800 reais (approximately $ 730), or nearly four times the minimum monthly wage in Brazil.

Her surgeon, Cintia Rios, said there had been a significant increase in cosmetic operations this year, about 40% more than what was done before the pandemic.

“I had to extend my working hours and hired three employees. Beauty is not in crisis, thank God! ”

According to Rios, otoplasties – cosmetic ear surgeries – are also popular because people feel that wearing a face mask makes their ears stand out.

Usually, this surgery is for children aged eight or nine, “but this year a lot of adults are doing it.”

Lips are also important, adds de Oliveira Sousa, “because during teleworking videoconferences, we see each other all the time on the screen”.

The Rios clinic was forced to close from March through May due to strict lockdown measures to control the spread of the coronavirus.

Today, however, business at the clinic is booming.

– “Happiest person in the world” –

“We felt like it was the end of the world,” said orthodontist Thiago Aragaki, referring to the lockout period.

In addition to his dental work, he performs simple cosmetic procedures, such as botox injections to remove wrinkles, in his office in a working-class neighborhood east of Sao Paulo.

“We reopened in June, with all the necessary precautions. Some patients have stopped coming, but we have had new requests, ”especially for lip augmentation injections, he said.

This is exactly what Rita Monteiro Meireles, 34, came to do in her office.

She sees the confinement as a chance to use her savings to make cosmetic surgery improvements she has dreamed of since her divorce three years ago.

“I didn’t like my face and after having a bichectomy (surgery to remove fat from the cheeks) I was the happiest person in the world,” she said.

Monteiro Meireles smiled as he looked at his new face in a pocket mirror, his lips still swollen from the botox injection.

Plastic surgery can be used as a stopgap in times of anxiety and uncertainty, said Henriette Morato, a psychologist at the University of Sao Paulo.

“It’s a way to demonstrate more control over your own life, to change what’s still possible,” she said.

– “Atypical year” –

Even though some cosmetic surgery clinics have seen demand for their services increase, “all is not rosy,” said Denis Calazans, head of the Brazilian Society of Plastic Surgeons – especially due to the lockdown several weeks earlier. during this year.

“It’s an atypical year,” he says.

“We should be posting lower numbers than before the pandemic” for the entire industry, he said, even though clinics offering simple procedures have worked well.

Working from home and saving money otherwise spent on travel or outings has allowed generally well-off Brazilians to “invest in themselves,” he said.

Brazil is the world leader in plastic surgery procedures, with 13% of the global market, according to figures from the International Society of Plastic Surgery.

But when all cosmetic procedures – including non-surgical procedures such as botox injections – are included, they lag behind the United States.

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