“A president, king or queen…they are very timid when they are in front of me. These are people who have power and know how to use it. But when they are in my hands, they give the power to me, because they know I can help them,” he says, and then launches into an anecdote to prove his point. Some years ago the chief of one of Brazil’s indigenous tribes came to see him. “He said to me, ‘I feel I am losing my authority because I am getting old,’” the doctor recalls. After a facelift, the shaman returned to the Amazon greatly refreshed and in full possession of his power. He later told Pitanguy that some of his people asked what medicine he took to regain his youthfulness. “It’s a secret!” he replied.
While there’s no medicine, of course, that can approximate the effects of a facelift, patients at Pitanguy’s clinic have long had the benefit of bespoke creams and ointments created to help with recovery and maintenance. After rebuffing many offers, Pitanguy recently agreed to develop a similar line for consumers. Marshalling the clinic’s team of biologists, pharmacologists and aestheticians, he created PreVious, a collection of facial products, and a new body-care line, which are reported to be selling briskly at Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus to devoted customers.
Still, Pitanguy is quick to note that true beauty is not found in a jar. “The concept of beauty that I feel has been imposed on people in recent years is all about marketing products, selling things,” he says, as a flock of brilliantly feathered macaws strolls past his feet. “But to me, beauty is well-being. Today we are more focused on the superficial, and when people who just live for looks lose them, they will be unhappy. It’s a great mistake not to cultivate the brain and the spirit.” But it certainly helps to have an appointment with Dr. Pitanguy.