Halacha and Plastic Surgery


How does an orthodox Jew approach plastic surgery and is there a difference between cosmetic and reconstructive? What sacred text are these beliefs derived from?



  1. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, zatzal, was once asked about a young woman who wanted to increase her marriage prospects by undergoing cosmetic surgery. He permitted it, since the surgery is done with her will and is essentially for her good. In support of this ruling, Rabbi Feinstein cites the Rambam: “A person is forbidden to inflict a wound, whether upon himself or upon others. And even without inflicting a wound, merely hitting someone in a hostile or insulting way – whether he hits a child or adult, a man or a woman – he has transgressed a Torah prohibition.” From this it is clear that the prohibition applies only when “hitting someone in a hostile or insulting way.” 

    The Talmud relates an incident where one of the Sages lifted up his frock when walking through thorns. “Skin heals, clothes” said the Sage. Even though he was scratching his skin by walking through the thorns, it wasn’t done in a hostile or degrading manner. 

    Rabbi Feinstein cites this as corroboration for the Rambam’s ruling. Furthermore, writes Rabbi Feinstein, the mitzvah “v’Ahavta L’Reyacha Kamocha” (Love your neighbor as yourself) would allow you to wound someone with his consent and for his benefit. Since the cosmetic surgery is for the woman’s good and is done with her consent, it is permitted. (See Igrot Moshe Choshen Mishpat 2:66)

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team