On Bioethics

catholic moral standing on the special ethics of life

Archive for operation


Even though cosmetic surgery procedures in the US and Britain are soaring, they are higher still in the Islamic Republic of Iran. According to Reuters, the number of young women, and men, sporting bandaged noses on the streets is striking. “Nose surgery is very popular,” says plastic surgeon Nabiollah Shariati. “It makes people feel good about life and themselves.”The Islamic revolution which turned Iran into a theocratic state where women are supposed to wear the head-to-toe chador has actually sparked a growth in cosmetic surgery. “Because of the hijab women have to wear, the face becomes the most prominent part of the body,” says Dr Shariati. And since Iranian noses tend to be larger than European or Asian ones, nose jobs are very popular. “Every year the figures go up,” he says. “Compared with the United States and European countries, they are much higher in Iran.” ~ Canada.com, Jun 10   




International medical tourism has become a US$60 billion industry which is growing at the galloping pace of 20% a year. Patients in Europe and North America seeking bargains or speedier treatment are travelling to countries like India, Brazil and Thailand for medicine which is as good or better than what they could afford at home. India will treat half a million overseas patients this year, for instance.

The trend has increased since the Asian currency crisis between 1997 and 2001, and 9/11, because Asians and Arabs were effectively unable to travel to the US for treatment. Savvy medical administrators sensed an opportunity and stepped into the gap. In some instances, the quality of medicine is outstanding.

According to Ruben Toral, a marketing manager for a Bangkok-based hospital, the typical medical tourist is someone over 50 who wants elective surgery or a medical procedure on a budget. His hospital pays its doctors lower wages and runs a strictly cash business.

At a seminar on international medical tourism in Las Vegas earlier this month, however, some concerns about the trend emerged. In many of these countries medical liability is not well developed. Although there is little hard information, some procedures have required reparative surgery back home. A recent survey of 68 Australian plastic surgeons uncovered 100 instances of botched procedures after women took “cosmetic surgery holidays” in Thailand and Malaysia.

What does the future hold? Perhaps the globalisation of medicine, as baby boomers go abroad for their operations. The Lancet cites an expert who predicts that insurance companies will develop products specifically for the medical tourism market and developing countries will build hospitals to capitalise on their relatively low labour costs. ~ Lancet, Jun 2


More and more Australian women are having elective caesarean sections for “lifestyle” reasons, according to a major survey. A study of more than 430,000 births over 20 years found that the rate of caesareans had doubled between 1984 and 2003, even when other factors were taken into account. Study co-author Fiona Stanley, from the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research in Perth, said that these figures “suggest there’s some social or lifestyle factors that may be influencing women”.

First-time mothers were 4.5 times more likely to have an elective caesarean than in the 80s.

“If women are following this as a lifestyle choice, because they don’t want to damage their perineum or because some celebrity has had one, and pressure is being put on obstetricians for these lifestyle reasons, then women need better advice,” said Dr Stanley.

The trend is often blamed on women who are “too posh to push”, in the memorable coinage of some British sub-editor, and significantly, the rate is highest amongst women who need them least, including women with private health cover. However, it is more than a matter of character. Doctors are also concerned about rising costs and small but significant health risks.

A Brisbane GP, Sarah Buckley, commented in an op-ed in The Australian that rates of caesareans were rising because of “our cultural over-confidence in medicine”. She also referred to research showing that women have fewer subsequent children after caesarean births. ~ news.com.au, May 17; Australian, May 22