The Lures of the Scalpel

Deconstructing the Social Construction of Beauty
  • Thalia ArawiEmail author
  • Diana Mikati
  • Ghassan Abu-Sitteh
Living reference work entry


Cosmetic surgery in the Arab region has witnessed a marked increase in popularity in the last 20 years. While this trend can be traced across the globe, this phenomenon holds particular significance in the context of the Arab region, juxtaposed with other social phenomena in a context of continuous turmoil and instability, which has resulted in a notable “therapeutic migration.” In this chapter, we question whether the popularity of cosmetic surgeries among Arab women is simply a means of exercising agency over one’s body to help retain some sense of “normalcy” amidst such turmoil, or whether it is a consequence of imported Western aesthetics that has caused some form of a cultural body dysmorphia compromising ethnic identities, all the while highlighting the predominant cultural and religious perspectives on the issue. We also argue that this social reconstruction of beauty and the massive demand for cosmetic surgery are shaping the role of the plastic surgeon. Consequently this has led to the desensitization of cosmetic surgeons and to the increase of unprofessional practices fueled by greed. Lastly, we will argue that we have a moral obligation to continue factoring in the ends of medicine when practicing cosmetic surgery lest the cosmetic surgeon becomes a skilled technician instead of a physician healer.


Aesthetic surgery Cosmetic surgery Therapeutic migration Beauty standards Identity Ends of medicine 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thalia Arawi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Diana Mikati
    • 1
  • Ghassan Abu-Sitteh
    • 2
  1. 1.Salim El Hoss Bioethics and Professionalism ProgramAmerican University of Beirut Medical CenterBeirutLebanon
  2. 2.Department of SurgeryAmerican University of Beirut Medical CenterBeirutLebanon

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