Why should cosmetic surgery be banned?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

With a provocative debate of this nature, there will always be another side to the issue.  I think that being able to outline some basic arguments would be critical.  The issue cannot be resolved in the space here.  The best outcome would be to offer some basic arguments behind the banning of cosmetic surgery.  Finally, it should be noted that the cosmetic surgery being spoken of here is one driven out of the patient's desire for physical beauty.  It is this drive for a particular aesthetic which motivates cosmetic surgery that is being spoken of in this analysis.  Cosmetic surgery or reconstructive surgery for medical necessity, such as in cases where the patient has been burned or disfigured, is not the primary basis of analysis featured.

One of the most basic arguments is predicated upon the health of the patient. Cosmetic surgeries are becoming so widespread around the world that it is seen as a lucrative business opportunity.  As often is the case, with the propensity for large profit comes a victimization of the consumer or patient.  A good example of this Poly Implants Protheses scandal in which faulty breast implants impacted women around the world:  "The scandal is also global in scope. Sold in 65 countries, the implants were re-branded by a Dutch company registered in Cyprus, offered on credit in Venezuela and smuggled into Bolivia, where they were bought by medical tourists."  The fact that over 300,000 women around the world were endangered because of cosmetic surgery would be one reason why it should be banned.  Some of the side effects of this were "burning pain, loss of sensation, hardening of breast tissue and serious infection."  In its elemental definition, cosmetic surgery is not conceived to save the life of a patient.  In cases such as the Poly Implants Protheses scandal, cosmetic surgery should be banned because of its propensity to do more harm to the patient than good.

Another reason why cosmetic surgery should be banned is because of its impact on young people.  Cosmetic surgery amongst young people is on the rise.  It is evident that young people are turning towards cosmetic surgery for the same reasons that older people embrace it.  The desire to artificially enhance or create external standards of beauty as well as conform to a social expectation of what defines beauty are motivations behind cosmetic surgery:  

"The percentage of teens having surgery is low; however, I fear television showing [young female celebrities] and their antics as well as others will have a tendency to increase the numbers," Atlanta plastic surgeon Dr. Brian Maloney said. "As we have seen a boom of cosmetic procedures as a result of reality TV shows. It is unfortunate that a parent would consider letting a 16-year-old daughter have a breast augmentation."

Dr. Maloney's argument suggests that the embrace of external notions of beauty that drive older people to obtain cosmetic surgery is replicated in the younger people's desire when they seek to do the same.  Parents allowing a child to have a breast augmentation is duplicating the same behavior in older patients.  This would serve as a reason to ban cosmetic surgery.  Cosmetic surgery is reinforcing skewed values in a generation of patients:  "If they aren't old enough to sign their own surgical consent for a medically necessary procedure, then they shouldn't be able to induce their parents to do it for cosmetic surgery — which is a personal, subjective, value-based decision, not a decision of medical necessity."  In the end, this becomes one of the critical reasons to ban cosmetic surgery.  It is a procedure embraced for the wrong reasons, as opposed to "medical necessity." The protection of young people has always been a reason why external agencies have intervened.  This could be a reason why cosmetic surgery should be banned.

As previously mentioned, cosmetic surgery has become a lucrative field.  This might be a compelling reason to ban the practice.  Professionals are becoming concerned that it is so easily accessible and a field where patients enter with so little reflection and information that more harm than good is becoming evident. Professionals around the medical field are calling for a greater regulation or outright banning of the practice:  "Over the last decade the BAAPS has worked tirelessly to educate the public on the many aggressive marketing gimmicks that not only trivialise surgery but endanger the patient."  This reality where patients are endangered, as well as lured with targeted marketing campaigns that cloud the health risks to cosmetic surgery demonstrate how the field is a dangerous one.  The need to prevent cosmetic surgery patients from experiencing greater pain and harm can be seen as another reason to ban cosmetic surgery.

amysor | Student

This debate depends on the person who is being asked. There are pros and cons to cosmetic surgery. Pros are they help people look more normal after a injury that might disfigure their face. Also, it helps create confidence to insecure people who let their insecurities dictate their lives. It is bad because it creates the black market, cheaper surgery. Most of the times, these cosmetic surgeries in the black market are not good qualitiy, and can lead to serious health problems. Also, it might have the opposite effect, and cause people to feel more insecure after a bad job.

Personally, I feel cosmetic surgery is good because it helps people be more happy. If it really bothers someone, they should have the choice to get surgery. As long as it is done legally and by a good doctor, surgeries help people's self confidence.

rachellopez | Student

There could be many arguments supporting the banning of cosmetic surgery. One could be the impression it gives for young people of the generation. Society has put an image in our minds of how people should look in order to be accepted. Of course this is a ridiculous idea and people should value that everyone is unique and beautiful in their own way. With cosmetic surgery being promoted and viewed as good, more young people will feel it is necessary to get it (disregarding the side effects) to feel good about themselves. 

Another argument is the negative side effects it causes. Getting plastic surgery can cause things such as nerve damage, infection, blood clots, internal/external bleeding, permanent scars, etc. Not only that but it can cause mental damage to the patient as well. Is it really worth all the risks?

Obviously, cosmetic surgery for medical reasons shouldn't be included in the ban, but only surgery for beauty reasons. You also can't forget the counter argument because people may side with cosmetic surgery being a benefit to society.         

vhk521 | Student

I would also add that cosmetic surgery can impact mental health as well as physical health. People can feel regret after the plastic surgery did not have the desired effect on their physical appearance. Sometimes, they might regret the side effects that inevitably come with the procedure. Both can negatively impact mental health.

user396107 | Student

I believe cosmetic surgery should be banned as you must ask yourself what is the main purpose of cosmetic surgery? The answer is, that it alters your original appearance. If everyone was to undergo cosmetic surgery then society would have become one where being yourself is not good enough and everyone must strive towards perfection. And this perfection is seen to be achieved through cosmetic surgery. 

nishu2766 | Student

Unless you have had a terrible accident and need a reconstruction it is not worth putting yourself through plastic surgery. Everyone is beautiful as they are and surgery can lead to serious complications. There is not one day that does by that i dont wish i could go back tothe day in the hospital and just walk out.

crystaltu001 | Student

Cosmetic surgery could be bad in a way because if it doesn't end up the way that person likes, then they will keep on getting cosmetic surgery until they like it

Personally, i don't see any reason that it should be banned, but if you were to look for negative points, you could say that Cosmetic surgery requires a lot of care, it can lead to health risks if not done right. It also can be argued in a religious point of view, that one should appreciate the body that god gave them.