Plastic Surgery: Should You or Shouldn’t You?

A few weeks ago, Paul Byerly of Generous Husband wrote a short series about breast augmentation. He asked the question, Is It Wrong to Augment? and reported the feedback from Women Who Have Augmented.

When I commented on the posts about my own experience, I received a couple of questions from readers there. I wanted to revisit the topic again on my own site and clarify a few thoughts about having plastic surgery.

First inward, then outward. I have a friend who lost 90+ pounds in a year and went from obese to oh-babe! How did she manage that? I think it’s because she got her inner self right first. She stopped looking at herself in the mirror and seeing a fat person. Instead, she saw the beautiful woman inside and decided she was worth something better. Once she believed in herself, willing to see herself as God saw her, she felt empowered to do the hard work of changing her diet and exercise routine so that she realized her goals.

That’s often how body image improves — not by fixing the external parts first, but rather by appreciating the unique way God knitted you together (Psalm 139:13). You are wonderfully made, beauty! If you’re looking for plastic surgery to resolve your inner self-image issues, you’ll likely be disappointed. Satisfaction with who you are must come first from within. It’s from an understanding of who God created you to be.

Woman + quote

Image from Microsoft Word Clip Art

Those poor women who have procedure after procedure after procedure never get this. They’re always looking for another outside fix for what really ails them inside. Get your priorities straight and work on your inner self first. It’s only from a position of inner, emotional health that you can make the right decision on what to do to improve your body for health or appearance.

Some things really are a matter of degree. Some Christians believe that it is wrong to have plastic surgery, that altering your appearance is going against God’s design.

Yet we do plenty of everyday things that involve aesthetic reasons, like bracing our kids’ teeth and wearing make-up and coloring our hair. Plus, we correct appearance that goes awry, like skin grafts after fire damage or breast implants after a mastectomy. Before announcing that all plastic surgery is off-limits, we might want to pause and ask what appearance-altering steps we’ve taken and what makes those okay and not others.

Because honestly, some things are a matter of degree. Eating is perfectly fine, but the Bible certainly warns against gluttony. Jesus attended a wedding with wine, but drunkenness is always spoken against in scripture. A little spice in the bedroom is rather wonderful, but an obsession with more and more kink becomes unhealthy. Likewise, some enhancements of our appearance would seem just fine, while extreme changes can become problematic.

And the question is then: What constitutes “extreme”? Is it numerous procedures? Surgery itself? Any changes to your appearance?

I suspect most people would agree on where the ends of the continuum are, but it’s that middle section of what’s a-okay that we struggle with. And we should. We should struggle to answer that question. Because if we are considering something as invasive as surgery, we need to ask some hard questions of ourselves and ensure that our choices honor God.

But I also suspect that my answer of where to draw the line might be different from the answer of another Christian whom I love and respect. And that’s where our own soul-searching and conscience come to bear.

For you, not someone else. I did not get bigger breasts for my husband. In fact, my husband was originally opposed to me having breast augmentation, because he was concerned about me undergoing surgery of any kind that wasn’t absolutely necessary (that sweet man). We talked about the pros and cons for a while, and he agreed with my conclusion and supported my decision. But I didn’t do it for him. I did it for me.

I’m always taken aback by the number of women who have plastic surgery as a “gift” to their man. And the number of men who request that. Having plastic surgery because you don’t feel like enough for your lover isn’t a great reason. Indeed, it’s likely to make you feel that you don’t measure up generally — that you’re only acceptable if you can “correct” whatever external appearance issues you have. And love looks beyond that.

Of course I wanted my husband to have more to handle in the bedroom, but that wasn’t my ultimate reason. My husband had already chosen me — flat chest and all. Indeed, as Paul Byerly (Generous Husband) mentioned in his first article, one man put it this way: “The two things I require in breasts are 1) nipples, and 2) accessibility.” I suspect that’s a common perspective for husbands. And it’s probably true for our breasts, butts, wrinkles, etc. As long as we wives show up (especially naked), our husbands will likely be reasonably happy. We don’t have to look like magazine models or waste time and money fixing imagined flaws.

When considering plastic surgery, ask why. Is it for your own convenience and confidence or to feel like you measure up to an unrealistic standard for the sake of someone else? At the end of the day, you will be the one having surgery, you will be the one living with the results, you will be the one changed. So make sure it’s what you want.

Obviously, I wanted to have plastic surgery, I made the decision to do so, and I do not regret it. I’ve been open on my website about my own doubts about plastic surgery, my process and reasons for deciding to augment, and my concerns about jumping in too eagerly to solve body image issues. I’d like to hear your perspective on plastic surgery.

When do you believe Christians can and should have plastic surgery? Have you had any procedures? Why did you choose to do it and what was your experience?

15 thoughts on “Plastic Surgery: Should You or Shouldn’t You?

  1. K L

    Thank you for this post. You pointed out some great things and you answered some questions that I’ve had on this subject. Thank you!!

  2. LG

    Wow. (insert dramatic pause) Your post couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. I have lost 70 pounds over the last 4.5 years and have made the decision to have skin removal surgery on my stomach. Aka “tummy tuck” I’ve also decided to have a breast lift, which will include implants for support basically ; size is not my issue – deflation is from the weight loss is and just lifting them without removing some tissue and putting in support would look strange I’ve learned.

    I also never thought I’d do this and have been praying about it, trying to figure out how I’ll explain to my mom that it’s not vanity, but finishing up my weight loss journey because no amount of ab work will get rid of that skin, however, in a small way it is vanity, and something I only told a close friend and the plastic surgeon is I want to be able to finally buy lingerie for my size that fits properly.

    I was always overweight and have kept my weight off for a year now. Before losing weight I had to come to grips with loving myself as I was. I always say it’s what made the weight loss possible, because the change started on the he inside. Like you, I am not looking for plastic surgery to make me into a supermodel, only to make exercise more comfortable (running with my stomach flapping is not comfy) and I would like to be “woman on top” without being embarrassed my husband will see the gravitational pull on tummy and breasts and have to look away. I’d also like to wear clothing that fits without having to wear a body girdle to keep the tummy smoothe.

    As for my husband of 18 years … he loved me at over 200 lbs and said that while he knows he’ll love the changes I’m about to make surgically he wants me to know that he loves me just like I am now too.

    Thank you for sharing more about your experience. I told a friend about the tummy tuck the other day and she doesn’t understand why it would matter and I felt good because I knew it wasn’t about wearing bikinis and being immodest, so I really didn’t care that she seemed not to approve. My prayers have been all throughout my weight loss to still be a woman who honors God with her life and I don’t plan for plastic surgery to change that.

    (Sorry for long comment…. You don’t have to post it, but I just had to share with you. 🙂 )

    1. J Post author

      Thank you for sharing your story. It’s my understanding that skin removal surgery is fairly common among people who have lost a substantial amount of weight. Skin has elastic properties but doesn’t fully return to its original shape and tautness, and it seems to me that leaving that skin could be a sore reminder of the body you no longer have.

      It sounds like you’ve reached a good place with your decision. I guarantee that some people won’t understand or agree, and that’s okay. We don’t have to be on the same page 100% with our friends and family, just respectful and loving. Your husband, of course, gets bonus points here at HHH for being loving and supportive and making you feel beautiful no matter what (because you are).

  3. jayme @ No Regrets Living

    My story is similar to LG’s above. Weight loss surgery where I went from almost-300 pounds to 150 pounds. Lots of skin left. Had hernias. A couple of years after the weight loss surgery, I had a hernia repair, but also had a tummy tuck and a breast lift/reduction at the same time (didn’t need implants as I still had plenty of breast tissue left). LOVED IT. It’s not that I looked “HOT” (I didn’t), but that my body shape was normal.

    I had the weight surgery as a single gal, but was dating my now-husband when I had the plastic surgeries, but he didn’t have any say in that decision (we were just merely dating). To be honest, having a normal body shape really helped me once we got married and started our sex life.

    I’m now the mom of 2 and my body has gone through the normal changes that babies & pregnancy brings, but I don’t regret any of the surgeries. I see them as a way of “undo-ing” some of the damage that I personally did to my body during the years of all my weight gain.

    My experience.

  4. Bonnie Wallace

    Great follow up to Paul’s post! I am totally supportive of plastic surgery and have kicked the idea around myself (babies make for saggy boobs). I think if you’re going to try to claim plastic surgery as wrong, you would have to include tattoos, piercings, hair dye, cute clothing, makeup, etc. Basically we’d all have to walk around in fig leaves like Adam and Eve, and then we’d be judged for not being “modest” enough! I think it’s about time that Christian women stopped judging each other and started focusing on looking more like Christ, as you said, on the inside.

  5. Resa

    What about facial plastic surgery? I’ve only read about body plastic surgery in the comments. From my experience it seems as if people are fine with surgery if it’s to lose weight or remove sagging skin, but its seen as wrong if you’re just unhappy with how your face looks. I guess maybe because the other surgeries are seen as more for a health reason and and a facial surgery is not. What are your thoughts people. I’ve wanted a nose job for years, I have just never liked it. I hear a lot of I need to accept how God made me. Is there a line? I wouldn’t want more surgeries if I had my nose altered..that’s all I’d like done. I really dislike taking pictures because of my nose.

    1. J Post author

      Hi, Resa! Good question. I think the same principles apply with facial plastic surgery. Why are you doing it? Can you afford it? Will you be content afterward? (You say you will, and that’s good.) Have you prayed about it? I know wonderful Christians who’ve had moles removed, an eyelid lift, etc. I’ve also heard the encouragement to “accept how God made me.” However, like I said, we don’t apply that to crooked teeth or hair color or — as one commenter before said — our naturally-jewelry-absent earlobes. Christians are largely okay with certain “fixes.” But we also know it can get out of hand. So you’re right to ask where the line is.

      My own perspective is that plastic surgery — facial or body — can be a-okay. But it’s a question the prospective patient should wrestle with, because it shouldn’t be done lightly or impulsively. And ultimately, the decision is between you and God. Maybe my story will help: I have a rather large nose myself. Indeed, someone close to me once suggested rhinoplasty (nose job). The thought of a cute nose — instead of this one that begs for green make-up, a wart, and a broomstick at my ready — is sometimes appealing. But I didn’t have that surgery. I had the B.A. Because when I looked in the mirror, my nose was me, consistent with my self-image, a part of my uniqueness. But the breasts were totally inconsistent with how I saw myself: I felt completely like a grown woman…in a 12-year-old body. What I saw in the mirror didn’t reflect at all who I knew myself to be. (This is why I also think you need to be a good emotional place as a whole to make a determination like that; otherwise, you could look in the mirror and say, “I feel like I’m Marilyn Monroe,” and then go try to look like that. Nonsense! You are uniquely you.) But this is a peek into the gut side of my decision.

      Best wishes! Oh, and tilting your head a little and avoiding profile shots helps with the nose/photo thing. Lesson learned from my wedding pics! LOL.

  6. John

    My wife had her breasts done. They were beautiful, just small. Now they fit her body very well, her clothes fit better than ever before and she looks GREAT. And she feels great about herself as well.

  7. Jenny

    I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with plastic surgery and such, although in some cases it might indicate some real problems with self acceptance that are not likely to go away afterwards. Something interesting to note: Back in my recent single days I met up with famed matchmaker Janis Spindel. As a rule, she never considers for membership any woman who has had any sort of plastic surgery, save reconstructive surgery. It was something that she understood her male clients and perspective clients just didn’t want.

  8. Suzy

    I’m confused by your question “Is it for your own… confidence or to feel like you measure up to an unrealistic standard for the sake of someone else?” as though these things are unrelated. Surely the reason women feel unconfident with small breasts (or a round tummy, or ears that stick out, or whatever) is BECAUSE OF the unrealistic standard of beauty imposed upon us by others…? I come from a non-Western society where women weren’t subjected to the same mind-boggling levels of “Hollywood beauty” that they are in the West, and most of us didn’t even think about whether our bodies were “good enough” to merit confidence – we were just happy to be strong and healthy. But since moving to the West (and only since moving to the West) I find myself struggling with the same low confidence that every other American woman seems to have.
    When we all buy into this beauty myth and start augmenting our bodies to abide by it, we only make things harder for our sisters and daughters. How will any of our kids grow up with a realistic idea of beauty when their own mothers and aunts endorse the same narrow idea of beauty by spending such vast amounts of money on it? It only raises the unrealistic standard already present in the media, and brings it into our homes and streets also.

    1. J Post author

      I understand what you’re saying, but in my own case, I was motivated by the discrepancy between the way I saw myself and what I saw in the mirror…not the discrepancy between the standard set by the world and what I saw in the mirror. Certainly, we can’t remove ourselves entirely from our cultures, but I believe we can ask ourselves deep questions about where our desire for change is coming from.

      Thanks for your comment!

  9. Anonymous

    I have struggled with the opposite problem. I have considered getting a reduction. It would be completely for me. My husband is against the idea. I’m just not sure how to think about the whole issue.
    I think that any surgery, tattoo, piercing, hair dye, Perm, etc. is between the person and their own conscience. If dying my hair seems extreme vanity to me, I shouldn’t do it. But, at the same time, I need to not judge my neighbor who dyes her hair each week.
    The problem or question I run into is: What about my husband’s view about this. No real health threat from not having it done, mostly just what I feel is comfortable. Part of it has to do with clothing shopping and that things don’t fit that well, etc.

    1. J Post author

      It sounds like your husband is like mine was. Which is good…that he’s happy with the way you look now and isn’t pushing you into unnecessary surgery. But yeah, it took some time and my gently bringing up the subject again and again to convince my husband it was a good idea.

      My only real suggestion for you is to not get in a hurry, take your time, and just keep explaining what you see and how you feel and what the benefits would be. If he has questions, do the research and get back to him. Consider how HE would benefit and talk about that. My husband expressed his reservations, and I dealt with them one by one. Eventually, he saw that I wasn’t doing it for vanity, but for some of the reasons you stated for wanting to do the opposite. Looking back, I’d say it took several months and several conversations to get on the same page.

      Best wishes!

  10. better late than never

    When I was still young and in the midst of having my kids, my husband asked me one day if I would ever consider getting a ‘boob job’. I told him no way!! I was completely offended, like he was telling me he wanted me too! Which of course wasn’t the case at all…he was just curious if it was something I would ever do! Anyway, after having 5 children and going from a perfectly perky size B to what I referred to as a negative AAA, I finally had enough! I felt like a boy! I obsessed about it all of the time. My husband never complained…in fact he would always say, “more that an mouthful is a waste”! But, I hated it! I have always had large hips and a very small waist and when I had no boobs at all I felt so completely out of proportion. I just couldn’t take it anymore. When I went to visit a good friend and found out that she had had her breasts done, it was finally like I got permission….like I didn’t have to be ashamed that it was something that I wanted. So…with my husbands blessing, I did it. And I have never looked back!! I finally felt like a woman again. And there is nothing wrong with that!! I love it, love it, love it! I had the doctor tell me what he thought would compliment my shape the best and I am a large C cup. I finally fit my body and my hips. Not too big, not too small and if I put a few extra lbs on…I look ok! I’m no longer obsessed about the way I look. I feel like me and it feels great!!

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