July 3, 2022

Is cosmetic surgery “ethically corrupt”?

At BioEdge, along with end-of-life issues, beginning of life issues, conscientious objection, organ transplants, the challenge of technology, we also try to cover cosmetic surgery. It is part of the larger project of human enhancement – escaping one’s natural endowment to create a better humanity.

For doctors, cosmetic surgery can be quite lucrative. However, it involves some serious ethical issues. The aim of aesthetic cosmetic surgery, such as liposuction or breast augmentation, is not to restore health. It only reshapes the body to make it conform to stereotypes of beauty.

Admittedly, there is an ever-growing demand for aesthetic cosmetic surgery. But is it a doctor’s job simply to acquiesce or to look after his patient’s welfare?

Feminist writer Naomi Wolf says savagely, “the Age of Surgery undoes [a woman’s] immense good fortune. It breaks down into defective components the gift of her sentient, vital body and the individuality of her face, teaching her to experience her lifelong blessing as a lifelong curse.”

Is most of aesthetic cosmetic surgery really medicine at all? It doesn’t treat patients in a holistic way and it often seems that the principal beneficiary is not the patient but the doctor’s bank account.

In the British magazine New Statesman, writer Michael Brooks writes this week that “Cosmetic surgery is nothing more than an industrial-scale scientific experiment”. After 50 years, it is time to question its validity. In the wake of the Poly Implant Prothèse breast implants scandal, he argues, we can see clearly that “Cosmetic breast implantation is a flawed and ethically corrupt psychological experiment, carried out for commercial profit on vulnerable women. And it should now be halted.”

What do you think? Is aesthetic cosmetic surgery medicine or just exploitation? 

Michael Cook
Along with end-of-life issues, beginning of life issues, conscientious objection, organ transplants, the challenge of technology, we also try to cover cosmetic surgery. It is part of the larger project of human enhancement.
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