Morality of plastic surgery to repair damage to abdominal region due to pregnancies?

I was wondering recently about this. I know a couple women who have had plastic surgery to repair some of the damage done to their bodies from having children. For them, it was not a hasty decision. They were healthy, fit women overall, but apparently for them, certain areas of their bodies simply did not recover. It really helped them, so I do not ask this question for the purposes of judging anyone. My reason for asking is that I wondered if plastic surgery is discouraged or if there are moral implications for choosing such? Or is this merely a prudential matter?

It is a prudential matter. The Church offers guidance in the Catechism under the fifth commandment.

2288 Life and physical health are precious gifts entrusted to us by God. We must take reasonable care of them, taking into account the needs of others and the common good.

2289 If morality requires respect for the life of the body, it does not make it an absolute value. It rejects a neo-pagan notion that tends to promote the cult of the body, to sacrifice everything for it’s sake, to idolize physical perfection and success at sports.

Thanks, 1ke! I was thinking that it was a prudential matter, but I wasn’t sure.

A close friend of mine just had this surgery done. She suffered from horrendous scar tissue causing great discomfort, frequent pain, and a myriad of problems due to have 3 C-sections, the last one having been hastily done with no anesthesia. Yeah, really.
They just went in and removed scar tissue, globs of flesh growing in the wrong places, and in effect, tidied up the outside of her body so that she could wear clothes more comfortably as an added benefit. It was not plastic surgery as we know it, but is classified as plastic surgery. In other words, it was done to help her, not to “cosmetically improve” her abdomen. She is not a bikini wearing person. She is a home-schooling mom of Greek Orthodox background, and very faithful.
Poor girl. I cannot imagine this is wrong. It would depend on the INTENT of your friends in pursuing this. Obviously, if recommended by a health professional, may be necessary and not a matter of vanity. My friend has gone through many years of pain.

What you describe here is exactly why I have never followed through with getting a tummy tuck.I have considered it,however,decided,why go under the knife,which in my case,would have been for vainity,enduring such pain unnecessarily:eek:

It doesn’t sound as if what your friends had done was cosmetic surgery, which is performed on body parts that are already working properly. It’s done to enhance, not repair. Even something like an abdominoplasty, which many people would consider plastic surgery and is generally performed by a plastic surgeon, can be medically necessary when muscle walls are weakened to the point where there’s intestinal herniation. Even a procedure like removing excess skin may help chronic fungal infections and other skin disorders.

I am not fully aware of all their own personal issues, but I have heard about issues with the muscles being stretched out and unable to be toned to support the body as well, muscle separation as in diastasis recti, stretched out skin that hangs in wrinkles (especially in moms of multiples). I have also heard of issues with the breasts, but I am not sure what the specifics are there. In short, I was asking about surgery that addresses BOTH function and appearance, especially with the abdominal region. I would never ever blame any mom who had any such surgery, but I found myself wondering about if it is okay. I thought it was okay, but I wanted to inform myself on it.
My daughter had a surgery on her abdomen for a minor birth defect. It wasn’t life threatening, but it could have impacted her health in the long run. The fact that it resulted in a “perfect” belly was a side benefit (although I still kind of miss her original belly).
But what if a woman’s primary reason for the plastic surgery is the visible damage? Is that really wrong to fix a problem pertaining to appearance? As an example, a woman who has had a mastectomy might later get plastic surgery to reconstruct a breast. That is okay morally, I think. So when the damage to appearance occurs due to having babies, is that still okay? Again, I would guess so.
I remember when a TV mother of multiples revealed her abdomen on her show, everyone was shocked by the damage. She wore a girdle all the time to support and hide the damage. She was offered a pro bono surgery to repair her abdomen. If I were in her shoes, I am positive I would have made the same choice to accept.

I thnk even what one might call “purely” cosmetic surgery can be okay under the following conditions

  1. The money spent will not be taking away from other responsibilities such as rent, children, pets, etc.

  2. If you are a Christian, you are not doing it for vanity’s sake.

  3. You are not doing it to please some one else.

This is what I was thinking as well. Vanity implies a preoccupation with one’s image, but does not include simply wanting to have a normal appearance, right? For example, a person who had one had their nose broken may want to restore the appearance of their nose, even if the function of their nose had not been affected. But that is different from someone obsessing over minor perceived flaws when their appearance objectively has nothing wrong with it.
I was thinking the same might be true with the question in my original post. Just because a person wants to restore appearance does not necessarily mean they are vain, in my opinion. But I could be wrong…?

You find me a person who says you cannot fix a disfiguration with surgery, and I will have him sell all of his possessions except one set of clothes, cook over a fire and sleep on a cardboard box in a little house with rotted floorboards.

We have a right to propriety.

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