Venezuela's 'butt-lift' boom

The South American country is facing political and economic crises. But neighbours from the south are bringing new business in a surprising way.

Brazil: home of its namesake “butt lift,” South America’s largest country has long had a thriving plastic surgery industry that has fuelled countless liposuctions, implants, nips and tucks.

But recently, the economic woes of Brazil’s northern neighbour Venezuela are prompting more Brazilians to cross the border for surgery, where cosmetic tweaks are far cheaper.

Under the administration of its president Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela has been stricken by falling oil revenues, violent anti-government protests and widespread food shortages. Inflation is rife and the value of the country’s currency – the bolivar – has dropped dramatically since early 2016.

The sudden increase in purchasing power has created a unique opportunity for Francisca Maia Vasconcelos, who has built a business ferrying patients, mostly from the city of Manaus in Brazil, across the border to the Venezuelan town of Puerto Ordaz, where surgeries are cheaper.

Though prices vary, a liposuction, breast and buttock augmentation surgery in Venezuela can cost Brazilians around 10,000 real ($3,098). In Brazil the same procedures can cost closer to 30,000 real.

Video by Heidi Lipsanen.

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