Brazilian plastic surgeons have successfully promoted a psychotherapeutic rationale for cosmetic surgery. This article critically engages with this ‘philosophy’ of health, analyzing how it is deployed in busy teaching hospitals. I show how a tradition of intimate hierarchy and class dynamics in medical institutions informs the experimental ethos of clinical practice as patients internalize a psychotherapeutic notion of health and management regimes of female reproduction and sexuality that are becoming normalized among upper social strata. In the process, cosmetic and healing rationales become blurred as patients pursue an expansive, qualitatively defined state of well-being that I call ‘esthetic health’.
- Plastic surgery
- esthetic health
- female reproduction and sexuality
- social class
- enhancement technologies