Some people use cosmetic procedures to forestall aging. Others do it to hold a powerful vicegrip over their people. According to a world-famous Brazilian plastic surgeon, that’s why Libyan president Muammar Gadaffi went under the knife in 1995.
Dr. Liacyr Ribeiro told the Associated Press that he supervised a facial fat injection and hair transplants for the dictator during a clandestine four-hour operation held in a private bunker in Tripoli. Ribeiro, now 70, had at that point traveled all over the world talking about plastic surgery. It was after one of those talks, at a conference in Tripoli, that he was approached to work on Gaddafi, who told Ribeiro he “did not want the young people of his nation to see him as an old man” after being in power for 25 years. Gaddafi was 53 at the time.
Ribeiro returned in January 1995 with a surgical team (including Dr. Fabio Naccache, who performed the hair translpant), and met Gaddafi at 2 am in his private bunker. Gaddafi refused Ribeiro’s offer for a facelift, opting for a subtle fat injection and hair transplants. He also went through the surgery under local anesthesia because he “wanted to remain alert.”
If you thought the story couldn’t get stranger, you were wrong. Gaddafi had hunger pangs somewhere between getting the fat sucked out of his torso to be injected into his face and actually getting it injected into his face.
About halfway through, Gadhafi said he was hungry.
“Hamburgers were brought in for all and surgery was interrupted for several minutes while we ate,” the surgeon said.
Ribeiro wouldn’t say how much he was paid for the surgery, but that he was handed an envelope stuffed with US dollars and Swiss francs when all was said and done. He says he warned Gadaffi that the fat injections would only last for about five years. It’s been 16 years since the surgery, and Ribeiro says Gadaffi is looking a little rough.
“Gadaffi is not looking very good these days,” said Ribeiro, noting that the 68-year-old leader has appeared jowly in recent appearances, his skin puffy, loose and deeply creased.
Of course, if we were facing a coalition of military forces bombing the mess out of our country, we probably wouldn’t look too hot, either. We wonder what those jowls will look like next week when NATO takes over command of the conflict there next week.