Even dictators need a facelift

Muammar GaddafiPopular uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa are happening in countries with youthful populations. The percentages of residents under age 25 are, in descending order:

  • 55.3% in Syria
  • 52.3% in Egypt
  • 50.8% in Saudi Arabia
  • 47.4% in Libya
  • 43.9% in Bahrain
  • 42.1% in Tunisia.

(The percentage in the US is 34%.) The inability of these countries to employ so many young people, including the college educated, contributes to dissatisfaction and unrest.

It’s not surprising then that Colonel Muammar Gaddafi of Libya would want to maintain a youthful appearance. His Brazilian plastic surgeon, Dr. Liacyr Ribeiro, has just released the details. Ribeiro – who has also performed cosmetic surgery on Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi — told a Brazillian weekly that he operated on Gaddafi in 1995. According to Ribeiro:

He [Gaddafi] said he had been in power for several years and that he didn’t want young people to see him as old.

What about doctor/patient confidentiality, Dr. Ribeiro? The surgeon decided to reveal Gaddafi’s secret in order to “contribute to understanding this historic figure around whom there is much speculation but little information.”

The surgery removed fat from Gaddafi’s abdomen and injected it into his cheeks to remove wrinkles. The Libyan ruler also received surgery on his eyelids (presumably blepharoplasty), and a scar on the right side of his forehead received attention. Dr. Ribeiro was accompanied on his trip to Libya by a Brazilian colleague, Fabio Nakkash, a specialist in hair implants.

Hairstyles of the rich and powerful

The story was corroborated by Dr. Nakkash (who is originally from Syria) in a phone interview with Al Arabiya News. The surgery was performed underground after a circuitous journey, since Libya was subject to a no-fly zone at the time. Gaddafi stipulated that he did not want general anesthesia. “Make me look as young as a 28-year-old man,” Gaddafi told the surgeons. (Gaddafi was 53 at the time.)

Although Gaddafi looks old again and his wrinkles returned, Nakkash expressed his relief that his hair is still not falling.

“His hair is the most important thing for me and as far as I can see, it has been thick and good since the time of the operation,” he concluded jokingly.

Although Gaddafi may not be pleased to have his secrets revealed, he is so preoccupied at the moment with more important things that he might not even notice.

Related posts:
Why are there so many cosmetic surgeons?
Imagine a future without cosmetic surgery
Feeling sorry for plastic surgeons
The death of Wang Bei: Cosmetic surgery as a moral choice
Character, personality, and cosmetic surgery
Bibi Aisha: Fixing what can be fixed


Image: Nacho Donut

Gaddafi Had Cosmetic Surgery To Avoid Signs Of Aging, NewsTime, March 12, 2011

Image conscious Gaddafi had hair implants, facelift, Al Arabiya News, March 10, 2011

Middle East Protests, National Geographic, March 9, 2011

The 2011 Statistical Abstract, Resident Population by Sex and Age: 1980 to 2009, U.S. Census Bureau (PDF)


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