Aesthetic surgery is health care In the media, we have seen several articles about aesthetic surgery
this autumn, including from Minister of Health Kjerkol. Some of the statements are discriminatory.
Published: December 12, 2022 This is an op-ed.
AMIN KALAAJI, senior consultant dr. with Oslo Plastic Surgery
First, let’s distinguish between cosmetic treatments and aesthetic/cosmetic surgery, as these are two
different things. Aesthetic surgery has good evidence to improve quality of life in both women and
men and has been performed on millions of people globally, including many in Norway. The need for
this is no less in this country.
The Minister of Health’s statements on cosmetic/aesthetic surgery can be perceived as
discriminatory for a large part of the populations that have had such procedures performed. We
know that approximately 100,000 Norwegian women have breast prostheses, most of whom have
had them performed on aesthetic grounds. In addition, there are several hundred thousand who
have undergone some form of aesthetic surgery, where the majority of patients are women, but also
By creating such a negative image of aesthetic surgery, and thereby stigmatizing both those who seek
help and those who perform it, it can contribute to more people, especially young girls, choosing to
travel abroad via what is known as medical tourism.
Unfortunately, some countries that deal with such tourism have significantly poorer ethical
guidelines than what we have here in Norway, which has the world’s strictest ethical rules in this
The Minister of Health should also consider that the state contributes to aesthetic surgery by
performing breast reduction and tummy tucks, for example, albeit put out as tenders to private
clinics. Thus, private clinics relieve the public sector by treating these patients.
In addition to breast reduction and abdominoplasty, we treat a wide range of diagnoses such as
protruding ears, eyelid plastic, rhinoplasty, various deviations in the breast and body, scars and
correctly some diagnosis of a purely aesthetic nature such as liposuction, breast implant, figure
shaping or facelift. Those who seek to redesign their bodies or the like, to resemble celebrities, for
example, should under no circumstances be treated surgically.
It is strange that even a female health minister does not understand the needs of women. Where is
the freedom and right to choose when a minister or other group decides what to do and what not to
do, thereby disempowering a broad section of the population? Why inflict shame on these patients, labelling them as «insecure» and having disturbances in their body perception? This is unheard of in today’s democratic Norway. Hope that the Minister of Health includes everyone in the community and understands the need for this type of surgery, so that she becomes Minister of Health for everyone in Norway. Aesthetic surgery is health care and not a need created by the media.