Post-Thanksgiving Ethics Quiz: Is This Ethical? (Giant Lips Edition)

Jessica also apparently has only one eye…

Look at the bright side: at least she didn’t have octuplets.

Kristina Rei, 22, of St. Petersburg, Russia, wants to look like Jessica Rabbit, so naturally she opted to get herself a pair of hugelips.She has undergone over 100 silicon-injection procedures, and considers it just the initial step in her quest to look like Roger Rabbit’s

Kristin’s hickies are deadly.

Toon wife from “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”. “When I can afford it I want to enlarge my breasts from a C-cup to a DD, change the shape of my nose and I want to make my ears pointed like an elf,” she told reporters. “It’s good to be different.”

Well, she’s different, all right.

Your Post-Thanksgiving Ethics Quiz: Was it ethical for a plastic surgeon to give her the lips she wanted?

Plastic surgeons are subject to the Hippocratic Oath like other doctors, but in  cases of elective surgery the standards of what constitutes doing substantive harm to a patient are extremely elastic. None of the Codes of Ethics for plastic surgeons would clearly prohibit giving a patient lips that look like they belong on a Macy’s helium balloon, or similar exaggerated features. These lips make Kristina happy. Is she mentally ill? A doctor who suspected so would be wrong to submit to her wishes if they were based on clinically defective judgment, but the fact that a doctor thinks a patient will look like a freak if he does what she wants isn’t ethically dispositive. If Kristin can eat, drink and breathe with her mega-lips, and there is no risk that they might explode, killing everyone near her, the decision to do what she wants is probably ethical, at least by medical ethics standards. The fact that her Chap-Stick costs will be astronomical is not the doctor’s concern, however.

Remember, though, that professional ethics standards are only the minimum level of required ethical conduct, not best practice. I think a plastic surgeon who assists a patient, especially one so young, in disfiguring herself to this extent is unethical. Autonomy is to be respected always, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  Kristin’s lips are so far beyond reason that a plastic surgeon debases his profession by assisting in what can fairly be called self-mutilation.

Surprising fact: Kristin has never had a boyfriend!

Clearly she has yet to meet the right Toon.
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13 thoughts on “Post-Thanksgiving Ethics Quiz: Is This Ethical? (Giant Lips Edition)

  1. 22? Ugh! Can that even be fixed later? I thought the plastic surgeon that made Meg Ryan look like Jack Nicholson’s Joker character in the Batman movie was unethical and this goes way beyond that.

  2. Is it fair to relate the ethical responsibilities of parties enabling Kristina’s bodily reconfiguration in any way or degree to the ethical responsibilities of other professionals (I believe I am using a term fairly there) who enable others’ reconfigurations through tattoos and piercings?

    • Sure, except that doctors are held to a higher standard. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t preferable ethics for a tattoo artist to refuse to mutilate someone—the problem is that all tattoos can be considered mutilation.

  3. I personally find it very difficult to believe that a person striving to physically emulate a cartoon character would be deemed psychologically fit for plastic surgery. However, if the only end result is that she looks like a cartoon, it’s her choice. Personally, if I had the money and the motivation, I’d probably be sculpting myself into Kathleen Turner, not Jessica Rabbit. (Well, only if they could also surgically alter my voice as well.)

  4. Jessica Rabbit has a very alluring looks, while for this young lady is awful and horrifying.
    How can her surgeon let her have that exaggerated feature?! Accdg to http://www.plasticsurgeryguide.com/campaign/long.html surgeons should adhere to the strict code of ethics as said by The ASPS

    To Proam, I believe the writer just stated facts. Plastic surgeons undergone training, board exams unlike tattoo artists and body piercers…

    • Well, sure, Jessica Rabbit has very alluring looks, but Jessica Rabbit is a cartoon, and exaggerated features are part and parcel of how cartoon characters are made to represent personal types—villain, hero, seductress, or whatever. If Ms. Rei cannot discern the difference between cartoon characters and human beings, well, doctors should. After all, their training is specifically oriented toward human beings. Not animals, and certainly not cartoon characters. A long-winded way of saying, I agree with you, Sarah.

  5. Later,when she changes her mind,and she will,can she undo it? If so,no harm,no foul. But…is it ethical for a doctor to do this? Probably not. I’m assuming plastic surgery was originally intended for correction of real problems such as noses that can’t breath properly,faces bitten by dogs or breasts too heavy. If someone does the type of work that’s been done on this young woman I think that disqualifies him/her as a physician. They are no more a doctor than the tattoo artist is.

  6. I certainly agree that the plastic surgeon has an obligation to ask “Are you sure?” (followed by “Are you really sure?” and “Are you really REALLY sure?” and “Are you really REALLY REALLY sure?”) but if she insists, it’s her money and her body.

    The libertarian streak in me is always suspicious of any effort to take away individual freedom and autonomy, and I can think of any number of analogies from Lady Gaga’s costumes at one end, to tattoos in the middle, to “I don’t want to wear a burka” at the other end.

    –Dwayne

  7. Why did my thoughts almost immediately go to the situation where the late Michael Jackson had a plastic surgeon help him fulfill his need to look more like Dianna Ross??

    Like Dwayne, my libertarian bent says that its her body and her money, and maybe the Russian judicial system will prohibit her from suing the doctor later on when she learns what we already know: this is not a good idea.

  8. Wasn’t there like a deformed Jessica Rabbit clone in that movie that got all excited and screamed “A Man!” and tried to force herself on Bob Hoskins? That’s what this girl looks like. She looks like the deformed body double, not the real deal.

  9. Like Dwayne and Mike, I tend toward “libertarian.” I don’t agree that the surgeon’s “J-Rabbiting” is unethical, if only because I am willing to presume that Ms. Rei would do the same for the surgeon if their places were reversed. I think ethical considerations are relevant because of the potential for diversion of limited resources to provide simply desired things, at the cost of failure to provide truly needed things. Ms. Rei’s demand, economically speaking, is troubling to me, as is the willingness of a surgeon to meet that demand, since there seems to be no compelling health-related reason for the lip surgery – only her desire for it. But, I am trying to reconcile realities of economics with ideals of ethics – a riddle to me, as a “libertarian.”

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