Doctors: Gadhafi feared assassination during facelift

Image: (FILES) -- A file picture taken on June
Libya's leader Moammar Gadhafi had plastic surgery in 1994 with only local anesthesia. Filippo Monteforte / AFP - Getty Images file
/ Source: NBC News and news services

Two Brazilian surgeons say Moammar Gadhafi was so fearful of being assassinated that he refused full anesthesia during plastic surgery in 1994, The Times of London reported.

In a story in Thursday's edition, surgeons Liacyr Ribeiro and Fabio Naccache described how they flew secretly to Libya in 1994 to operate on the dictator's face and hair. They described the dictator as "vain and paranoid" during the procedures. Here's what the doctors told the Times:

  • "He wanted to look younger, he thought he was getting old," Naccache said. "He had a good head of hair, but some bald areas, which I tidied up."
  • Gadhafi told the doctors that he wanted to look like he did when he was 28 years old. "He didn't want young people to see him as an old man," the doctors said.
  • Gadhafi had asked for only a local anesthesia during the four-hour facelift and was able to carry on a conversation. He even stopped the operation so everyone could take a break to hamburgers and drink fizzy beverages.  

The doctors stayed with Gadhafi for three days to monitor his recovery. One said he feared for his life after crossing the border into Tunisia. They later received an envelope stuffed with cash, the Times reported.

Ribeiro, who also works in Naples, declined to confirm reports that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was among his clients.