Monday, February 9, 2015

Plastic Surgery as an Industry that needs Ethics

Today in class we talked a lot about the ethics of Plastic Surgery, and I left with a disgusted taste in my mouth. I think before I begin to delve into what specific ethics plastic surgery deviate, it may be important to consider why there are ethics involved in the Plastic Surgery industry.

Plastic surgery falls within a weird category of society. Many argue that plastic surgery is a business, an industry built to generate revenue. In this sense plastic surgery is done with the sole purpose of profit. A profit driven business that makes money off the insecurities of others. If we are to think of other body art modification institutions, such as tattoo and piercing parlors, this type of thinking, that such an institute would be for profit , makes sense. But plastic surgery isn't exactly like these institutions for one very important reason. Plastic surgery is a very serious medical process that involves intensive surgery. For this reason, plastic surgery must have standards higher than that of a profit-driven business and must be more like a medical institution. This is where ethics enter.

Considering that plastic surgery is a serious undergoing; a process that involves elective surgery, it becomes necessary to hold high ethical standards as would a medical institution. One problem that arises with elective surgery are the amount of surgeries a patient can have. When is it too much? Does too much ever border a mental illness? When does it become unethical to put a patient under that many surgeries? As we saw in a case study in the Pitts book, a patient undergoing about 50 surgeries in 5 years, borders something we should consider unethical. But how can we limit this, and how can we draw a clear line on what is too far and what is acceptable?

A second ethical question that arises is when a surgeon recommends and promotes other surgeries. This can be unethical because these are supposed to be the advice of experts, and not a shameless promotion of other surgeries for profit. This is unethical because vulnerable patients are relying on their advice as a doctor and medical expert, and not as a salesman. When it comes to cosmetic surgery, plastic surgeons should, under most circumstances, not recommend other surgeries beyond what the patient has suggested.

Lastly, age is becoming an increasing ethical problem in the plastic surgery sector. A new phenomenon has emerged in where teenagers are being allowed, and increasingly growing in numbers, to partake in plastic surgery. I think this is grotesque. Teenagers, when considering body insecurities and pressures, are the most vulnerable in society. Preying on these insecurities and allowing these teens to modify their bodies drastically, and engaging in dangerous and painful surgeries, is unethical. Teens have no idea what their bodies will look like and have not fully grown into their bodies. There needs to be an age limit on plastic surgeries with exceptions for cosmetic surgery that may help alleviate medical conditions.

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