The South American Way

Brazil is known for its heavenly beaches and gorgeous women—not to mention its plastic surgeons. Jane Larkworthy chats with Dr. Carlos Fernando Gomes de Almeida, the country’s go-to guru for cosmetic enhancements.


I’ve heard that facelifts are your favorite procedures. Why? It’s a very special surgery—you need to make the person look better but not different. It’s not a face change; it’s a time change. Sometimes I feel like a shrink with a knife.

Do the visions that people have in mind for their “new” faces and bodies generally make sense? Of course not! A patient will say, “I want breasts this big!” They have no idea how to live every moment of the day with these new breasts, which are like a dream they’ve had for 20 years. It’s very hard for doctors to judge, based on their own tastes, what would be a good dream and a bad dream.

So the trick is finding a doctor who shares your tastes. Exactly. I was once asked why so many people destroy their faces by getting big lips. There are three kinds of doctors: the ones who have good taste aesthetically and wouldn’t give you those big lips; the ones who’d do anything to get paid for it; and, finally, the ones who think those big lips look good. People should choose a doctor who’s very well recommended, or one whose work they’ve seen on their friends.

I’ve also heard that you collect art… I just love art. My passion is 17th-century Italian, but I also have Italian works from the 16th century, along with some contemporary Brazilian things—even some pieces carved from wood that I see on the streets.

You yourself create objects of beauty—some people call you an artist. I do think cosmetic surgeons are a kind of artist, because we have to imagine the results before we do the work—and sometimes a tiny thing makes a world of difference.

Gomes De Almeida: Vicente De Paulo; Model: Matthew Donaldson/Trunk Archive