Chavez tries to flatten the breast augmentation trend in Venezuela

April 2, 2011

Chavez tries to flatten the breast augmentation trend in Venezuela
Chavez tries to flatten the breast augmentation trend in Venezuela

Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela, recently declared on state television that it is “monstrous thing” that poor women were seeking breast lifts when they had trouble making ends meet.

It’s no wonder that Chavez, champion of leftist causes and friend of Fidel Castro, does not promote breast augmentation. But it is ironic that Mr. Chávez’s comments come at a time when Venezuela has emerged as one of the world’s leading markets for breast augmentation. Between 30,000 and 40,000 women in Venezuela undergo the procedure each year, according to estimates by the Venezuelan Society of Plastic Surgeons.

It’s not the luck of the draw that Venezuelans consistently place among finalists in the Miss Universe pageant. Here, women pursue beauty with religious fervor. Beauty is a leading industry, national obsession and staple of everyday life. There are more beauty salons and spas than drugstores in Caracas yellow pages and teenagers have been know to receive breast augmentation as a “quinceanera” gift at age 15.

Chavez is swimming against the current of popular Venezuelan culture. In Caracas, billboards promote bank loans for breast augmentation and a candidate for the National Assembly tried to finance his campaign by raffling off a breast lift.

The New York Times, March 15, 2011, reports that El Nacional, the opposition newspaper, compared Chavez to Qaddafi, the Libyan leader (who by-the-way regards Mr. Chavez as a friend). According to El Nacional, “Now comes this antiquated, militaristic, coarse, repressive attitude on the freedom of women to do what they want with their bodies.”

Here, in the States, we consider aesthetic surgery choices a private matter. But, when it comes to safety, we welcome supervision by reputable medical boards. Had Chavez initiated a campaign to institute better safety measures in cosmetic surgery, he might have met with universal support. Twenty-year-old Paola Ríos died in Caracas this month because of complications from breast augmentation surgery.  

The mission of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) includes medical education, public education and patient advocacy. Plastic Surgery News Briefs are summaries of current stories found through various news and magazine outlets that relate to or mention plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures. The views expressed in these news articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ASAPS, but are merely published as an educational service to our members and the general public. For additional information on these subjects and other plastic surgery related topics, please go to

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The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), is recognized as the world's leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body. ASAPS is comprised of over 2,600 Plastic Surgeons; Active Members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and have extensive training in the complete spectrum of surgical and nonsurgical aesthetic procedures. International Active Members are certified by equivalent boards of their respective countries. All members worldwide adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must meet stringent membership requirements.


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