Tailoring the Perfect Patient: Italian Cosmetic Surgeons between Gender Stereotypes and Professional Routines


  • Cinzia Greco University of Manchester





This article explores the views that cosmetic surgeons have of patients and the role they play in the selection of patients. The research is based on 17 in-depth interviews with surgeons conducted in Italy. It shows how the surgeons play an active role in determining if and how a patient will undergo a cosmetic operation, and how surgeons adhere to dominant gender stereotypes, but also partially redefine them in order to facilitate their professional routines. Surgeons use gendered criteria to describe the problematic patient, who might bring a lawsuit endangering their practice. The male patient is gradually legitimized through the use of a rhetoric of “virilization”. Nevertheless, cosmetic surgery continues to be seen as a female-centred practice, and the image of the ideal patient is still a woman, counter-intuitively described by surgeons as young and beautiful.




Keywords: cosmetic surgery, surgeons, doctor-patient relationship, gender stereotypes.

Biografia autore

Cinzia Greco, University of Manchester

Newton International Fellow, Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine (CHSTM)