A Brazilian doctor has confirmed that Colonel Gaddafi has had plastic surgery to look young.
Brazilian surgeon Liacyr Ribeiro said he has decided to come out about the procedure he performed on the Libyan leader in 1995 to provide an insight into a man about who little is known.
Ribeiro was in Tripoli in May 1994 for a conference on cosmetic breast surgery when he was approached by Libyan official Mohamed Zaid to come and meet someone.
He was escorted deep into a bunker where he was greeted by Gaddafi and told of his top secret assignment - he was to shave years off the Libyan leader's appearance by removing fat from his belly and injecting it into his wrinkled face. He also wanted hair plugs.
"He told me that he had been in power for 25 years at that time, and that he did not want the young people of his nation to see him as an old man," the Daily Mail quoted Ribeiro as saying.
The Brazilian doctor said he recommended a facelift to Gaddafi, 68, but he refused as he wanted something that would be less noticeable.
The secretive four-hour procedure in January 1995 was done, at Gaddafi's insistence, with local anaesthesia because he wanted to remain alert.
The surgery began at 2am in Gaddafi's bunker, which "had two fully equipped and very modern operating rooms, a gym and a swimming pool".
Sao Paulo-based plastic surgeon Fabio Naccache also confirmed that he was part of the team and performed a hair transplant on the Libyan leader.
About halfway through, Gaddafi said he was hungry. Hamburgers were brought in for everyone and surgery was interrupted while they ate.
Afterward, Zaid handed Ribeiro an envelope ''full of U.S. dollars and Swiss francs".
He would not say how much money it contained but only that it was "more than I would charge for my services in Brazil."
The doctor stayed in Tripoli for ten days while the Libyan leader recovered.
Ribiero, a surgeon with an international reputation, said: "I warned Gaddafi that the effects of the operation I performed would last for about five years, that it had an expiration date after which the skin would sag and the wrinkles would reappear.
"He said he would call me if he needed me to come back, and about five years ago there was such a request, but I had a family obligation. They never called me again," Ribiero added.
At the time of the surgery, Gaddafi was 53, but Ribeiro said he looked at least ten years older.
After the procedure, "he looked like a 45-year-old man", the doctor said. ''But he is not looking very good these days.
Ribeiro insists he is speaking out now only to provide insight into a man about whom little is known, and certainly not to boast.
He said: "To let potential patients know that I operated on him would be counter-productive."
Speaking about meeting Gaddafi, he said: "He shook my hand and greeted me, speaking perfect English.
''He was an extremely polite, intelligent, cordial and soft-spoken person who quickly told me what he wanted and why,'' he added.