Examiner.com posted “Plastic surgery trends: Latin America leads the way” by Kristin Eckland.
Plastic Surgery trends: Medellin as the forefront of plastic surgery
Forget what you’ve been told; forget New York, Paris or Milan. The real trendsetters in fashion and beauty are in Latin America; Colombia and Brazil. This includes plastic surgery.
Here in Medellin, the women are famed for their beauty and style; both natural and surgically assisted. Plastic surgery is viewed differently here as compared to the United States, and it is more widely available to people of all social and economic classes. There is no stigma to having ‘had a little help’, rather there is more of stigma attached to not having surgery, or not taking advantage of the opportunity to ‘fix flaws’.
There is even a university program to provide free plastic surgery to the poorest residents of the city. Plastic surgery residents get practice, and the low income residents get liposuction, breast augmentations and buttock enhancement.
Sexually desirable versus youthful and attractive
One of the biggest trends discussed by several of the local surgeons is the heavy trend towards corporal (body) procedures, almost to the exclusion of all else. Much of this trend reflects the traditional Latin American culture, and its emphasis on female sexuality and sensuality. This is also reflected in clothing styles, which are more form-fitting than many Americans are comfortable with, long waist length hair, stilt-like heels with exaggerated gaits and pronounced cosmetic applications. The popularity of breast implants and buttock enhancements also harks back to a darker chapter of Colombia’s history: narco-trafficking.
Narco-trafficking and breast enhancements
Despite the occasional media story, the trend of widespread breast enhancement among the girlfriends, wives and mistresses of narcotraffickers had nothing to do with smuggling drugs. Rather, the trend for very large breast implants was started by drug smugglers like Pablo Escobar, their love for teenage girls and large breasts. Their teenage girlfriends with their exaggerated, Jessica Rabbit-like physiques became a status symbol which has since caught on and been exported to all of the Americas, including the United States.
More natural silhouettes
However, the local surgeons say this trend is changing. They report that in the last few years, the requests have changed. While breast augmentation remains the most popular procedure after liposuction, the majority of women are no longer asking for very large implants or extreme buttock augmentation. Silhouettes are becoming more natural and proportioned. Patients are asking more for “B’s or Cs” instead of “D’s or bigger. “People don’t want to look like Heidi Montag, or other well-known celebrities with dramatic surgical changes.
It’s about the body, not the face
Surgeons also report a dramatic change in the types of facial procedures patients are asking for. Many surgeons report that this is a reflection of the popularity of reality-show television programming like the ‘real housewives’ series and other shows with heavily ‘surgerized/ plasticized’ characters. “My patients are emphatic,” one plastic surgeon explained, “they don’t want face-lifts, they don’t want to look like that. These sorts of results frighten them.” Instead, Botox and other fillers are continuing to rise in popularity, despite their temporary results. Fillers, along with laser rejuvenation and blepharoplasties make up the majority of many plastic surgeons’ facial procedures.
“Many patients just can’t afford the downtime of big facial procedures like a face-lift. They don’t or can’t take the time off from work, and they don’t want to endure the weeks of bruising or swelling afterwards,” another surgeon explained.
Even the focus of the ever popular liposuction has changed; more people are striving for ‘sculpting liposuction’ versus overall fat reduction. Sculpting liposuction creates the impression of greater muscle definition and is often used to create the illusion of ‘six-pack abs’ or greater bicep definition.
This trend of body over face has certainly been validated by both national and international levels. Recent surveys by the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS) show liposuction to be the most popular surgical procedure globally, closely followed by breast augmentation, with over 1.2 million of each of these surgeries performed every year. Together, they account for almost 40% of all plastic surgery procedures. Blepharoplasty, or eyelid lift comes in third in global popularity, with face-lifts trailing behind at number 8, as only 4.8% of all plastic surgery procedures with a total of 308,926 face-lifts performed in 2011.
In comparison, Botox alone was performed over 3.1 million times.
In the United States, which often trails behind Latin America in fashion and beauty trends, breast augmentation remains the most common plastic surgery procedure followed by liposuction and abdominoplasty. Statistics on the most frequently used sizes of implants are not available* but judging from the popularity of most voluptuous role models such as Sofia Vergara and Christine Hendricks, as well as a predilection for porn-star proportions and procedures, an increase in more subtle refinements may go unnoticed.
*The ISAPS does not maintain statistics on size, brand or type of implants used. Several manufacturers were contacted for their sales data, including Johnson & Johnson, but no reply was received at the time of article publication.
Thank you to Drs. Luis Fernando Botero, Yesid Cardenas, Rodrigo Diaz and others who contributed to this article.