Plastic Surgery and Breast Reconstruction for Women

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Plastic surgery steadily continues to grow in the United States. The number of breast reconstruction surgeries have increased 39% since 2000. Many people turn to breast reduction or breast augmentation to satisfy their many needs. To determine whether plastic surgery is an ethical procedure, an exploration of physical, psychological, societal pressure and the views of the Catholic Church will be examined. Women tend to spend lots of money on different products like cosmetics, clothes and jewelry to enhance their physical look and help enhance their confidence (Barber). Just like how different products can make us feel better about our look, breast reconstruction can also give that feeling. Women may decide to enlarge their breasts because they feel like their breast are underdeveloped or they may feel like one breast is larger than the other.

Other women may get a breast lift because they may not like the appearance of them after breastfeeding for several months or even years. Breast reduction can also be used to enhance our self-image. Some women may feel like their breast are too large, too heavy and uncomfortable. Others may not like the way their breasts look in certain types of clothing and some may not be able to fit in certain tops or dresses that they like. Some women feel self-conscious about their large breasts. In 2013, 4,680 breast reduction surgeries were done that year and it has continued to increase each year (Foster). Breast reductions can also be used to enhance our physical health. Some women may be very athletic but their breasts may get in the way of their full potential. Tennis player Simona Halep, revealed that she had a breast reduction operation to become more physically healthy and improve her performance. After her surgery she was able to increase her ranking and became number three in the championships (Foster). Simona Halep is just one of the many athletes and celebrities that have gotten a breast reduction procedure.

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Women are pressured to be beautiful and perfect from a young age. We see in ads, commercials, movies and TV shows, the many women that are promoted with big breasts, large glutes, small waist, and perfect figure. These unrealistic idols are what pressure us to make different changes to our body to try and look like them. In 2017, the most popular cosmetic procedure was breast reconstruction surgeries, for the second year in a row (Olya). This procedure is so popular because famous people like Britney Spears, Megan Fox, Halle Berry, Cameron Diaz and many other celebrities, all who are idols to millions of people, have gotten breast augmentations. Dr. Daniel Maman, from 740 Park Plastic Surgery said “I also think social media has helped make plastic surgery mainstream to some degree, and patients are more open to discussing it.” (Olya). It is clear that we humans are influenced by society and the media around us. This puts pressure specifically, on people that have the money to get these expensive procedures. If our generation is so easily influenced by the media, newer generations will be even more affected and we will see the percentage of breast reconstruction surgeries increase immensely through generations.

Another factor that can lead women to get breast reconstruction surgery are psychological reasons. A psychological condition that can lead to cosmetic surgery is Body Dysmorphic Disorder or BDD. People with BDD are obsessed with their appearance and flaws. They may often think of themselves as unattractive and disfigured. They also have a hard time controlling their negative thoughts about their physical look. Often breast size is one of the main obsessions in a person with BDD. BDD can also lead a person to commit suicide. It is unclear of the cause of Body Dysmorphic Disorder but some issues may be chemical imbalances in the brain, obsessive compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and other psychological conditions (Tyler). People who are unhappy with their physical appearance are more likely to spend money on big surgeries like breast reconstruction. Fortunately, plastic surgeons now have tests that can determine whether a patient has BDD or not (Tyler). It is important for the surgeon to know that state of their patients’ psychological state in order to proceed with a big procedure, such as breast enlargement or reduction. Patients with psychological conditions who decide to get breast implants, breast lift or other breast procedures can develop more disorders after their operation.

Different religions have different views on the topic of plastic surgery. Specifically, the Catholic Church has no real stance on cosmetic surgeries (Ben). We do know however, in the bible it says we should not change the way God made us and we should respect our bodies. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (Open Bible, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). It is uncertain whether or not plastic surgery, specifically breast reconstruction surgeries, are a sin (Ben). The bible does not state anything specific on cosmetic procedures (“Is it Wrong”). However, everyone has their own opinion. Some Catholics believe that if breast reconstruction surgeries are done only to enhance their beauty and cosmetic purposes only, it is considered a sin (Ben). Other Catholics believe that it is not a sin if women get breast reconstruction done for health reasons like back pain, neck pain, etc.

There are many benefits and disadvantages to getting a breast reconstruction surgery, this is why so many people have different views and opinions about this topic. It is also the reason why plastic surgery is an ethical procedure. Personally, I believe that everyone is allowed to make their own choices, as we have that freedom to do so. In the textbook In Search of the Good, we read about the Catechism and freedom; “Freedom is the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or to not act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one’s own responsibility.”(Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops). I believe that since God gave us our freedom, we are able to use that freedom to give act on something we don’t like about ourselves. People should be able to choose what they want to do and change with their body. I also personally know a few women who have gotten a breast augmentation and have been very satisfied with their look. If changing something about yourself will make you feel happier and will help you live a happier life, why not do it? It is important to love yourself in order to live a happy life.

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