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Cosmetic Procedures In Halacha

Question:
לכבוד הרבנים ומרן הגאב׳ד שליט׳א
Injection of Botulinum toxin type A, or Botox, is one of the most common non-surgical cosmetic procedure performed in the Western world. For cosmetic purposes it is typically used in the facial muscles of expression around the eyes and forehead. In certain instances it can be used to relax the muscles around the mouth, jawline, and neck. The cosmetic benefit comes from the resulting relaxation of the skin which diminishes the expression lines after the subcutaneous injection is administered.
The effect of botulinum toxin lasts 8-12 weeks. Typically, at the 10-week mark, patients begin to note a gradual disappearance of the injection effect. The risks of these treatments are small and to date, no significant long-term hazards of botulinum toxin injections have been identified.
Breast augmentation is the most common type of cosmetic surgery. It can be undertaken for either reconstructive purposes (for example after undergoing surgery for breast cancer) or purely for cosmetic reasons. It involves undergoing general anaesthetic and is considered as a serious surgical procedure with a number of potential complications ranging from post operative bleeding and infection to failure of procedure requiring further reconstruction.

Questions
1. Is BOTOX treatment for cosmetic reasons considered an act of חבלה?
2. Can an individual undergo the above mentioned procedures purely to to improve their appearance (לשם נוי)in the absence of any disfigurement or psychological factors?
3. If a Jewish doctor who asked to carry out any of these procedures (לשם נוי) should he/she defer to a non jewish doctor or not?

Many thanks

Answer:

While Botox is not a surgical procedure it does have it’s risks and so consideration must be taken. This is certainly so with cosmetic surgery. The general rule is that when such procedures are being done for a bona fide need they do not fall under the prohibition of chabala and are permissible, by Jewish and non Jewish doctor alike. Procedures categorized as cosmetic often time are in fact important to restore or improve natural or other conditions, which may impinge a person’s self esteem, self image, and overall productivity. On the other hand one who is abusing such procedures for mere fashion and the like, is at best misguided and may be transgressing the prohibition of chabala. When the above distinction is not clear, a Rav, mentor or some form of Daas Torah should be consulted for guidance.

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