Brazil No Longer #1 in Plastic Surgery

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

These days I’m keeping an eye on Brazilian news because I’m looking ahead to my reporting trip to Brazil next month. The country is going through a crushing recession right now—its economy is predicted to shrink by as much as 2.6 percent this year, according to some sources.

The crisis is affecting everything from health to security in devastating ways. But among its more unusual impacts is a decline in something Brazil is well-known for: plastic surgery. According to Folha De Sao Paulo, last year1.34 million surgeries were carried out, that is, 148,000 less compared to 2013, when the country ranked as leader.” Boob jobs, down by 41,000, took the biggest hit.

The paper quotes one shopkeeper who found herself too cash-strapped to splurge on a breast augmentation:

Sales have plunged in my store. I dream about the operation but I can't afford to get myself into debt.

Of course, Brazil’s slide in the rankings makes room for a new global leader in plastic surgery: U-S-A! U-S-A!