"Do you have a healthy smile?".

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


This article examines whether cosmetic interventions by dentists and plastic surgeons are medically indicated and, hence, qualify as medical interventions proper. Cosmetic interventions (and the business strategies used to market them) are often frowned upon by dentists and physicians. However, if those interventions do not qualify as medical interventions proper, they should not be evaluated using medical-ethical norms. On the other hand, if they are to be considered medical practice proper, the medical-ethical principles of nonmaleficence, beneficence, justice and others hold true for cosmetic interventions as much as they do for other medical and dental interventions. It is concluded that most cosmetic interventions do not qualify as medical interventions proper because they do not restore or maintain the patient's health (defined as the patient's integrity) by any objective standards. Rather, cosmetic interventions are intended to enhance a person's physical appearance; more specifically, they intend to fulfill the client's subjective perception of an enhanced appearance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-180
Number of pages12
JournalMedicine, health care, and philosophy
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Education
  • Health Policy


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