Question: What the Church have to say about cosmetic surgery? I’m thinking of reconstructing my nose, but do not wish to violate my faith. Please tell me whether it is OK or not to perform such surgery on a man.
Answer: Dear friend, thank you for your enquiry. While there is no “official” statement by the Church on cosmetic surgery, there are several considerations one should prayerfully consider before undergoing this procedure:
The reason for the surgery: Reconstruction of one’s nose in an effort to attain clearer breathing is different than the same procedure out of pure consideration for one’s appearance. Cosmetic surgery performed out of undue concern for appearance could proceed from or lead to the sin of pride and vanity.
The procedure itself: a major TV network reported just last week that cosmetic surgery can often be a risky proposition. In fact, the report stated that out of every 5000 cosmetic surgeries performed, there is one death; this is six times higher than for all other surgeries. Especially targeted in the report were liposuction procedures. It was also noted that many cosmetic surgeons are poorly trained or perform their services in an office, rather than in a hospital, and that there are no resources at hand should a serious emergency arise. While the report said nothing specific about reconstructing noses, it did offer a general warning to the public. Here one needs to prayerfully consider the risks involved as well.
It is only my opinion, but it would seem that unless there is some serious and valid reason—and I am not sure that wishing to change one’s appearance simply for its own sake is a valid reason or that such a reason is not prompted by pride or an undue concern for how we look rather than who we are—one should tamper with that with which one has been blessed by God. It is one thing, for example, to have reconstruction in order to make it possible to breathe better; it is another thing to undergo such procedures simply for the sake of “cosmetics” or to gain more “self esteem,” something with which our culture is obsessed and yet which the Church would view as taking our focus off of God and placing undue attention on the self.
Again, while there are no official statements on such things, the principles involved need to be considered before one can make a prayerful determination as to whether or not to undergo such surgical processes.
You may also wish to discuss your particular situation with your pastor and spiritual father as well.