Aesthetic Plastic Surgery

, Volume 42, Issue 6, pp 1699–1703 | Cite as

Religion and the Plastic Surgeon: an Imam, a Minister, and a Rabbi Walk into a Surgical Centre

  • Amishav Y. Bresler
  • Boris PaskhoverEmail author
Original Article Special Topics


Cultural competency has become a keystone in forming a successful doctor–patient relationship to provide culturally appropriate services that respect patients’ ethno-cultural beliefs, values, attitudes, and conventions. In cosmetic surgery, an often-overlooked aspect of a patient’s cultural is his and her religious beliefs. In response to this paucity of resources for cosmetic surgeons to enable them to properly service their religious patients, this project was undertaken. This review article covers the three main Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) and was written with the assistance of a prominent bioethicist from each religion (see Acknowledgements). In discussing each religion, the article has been divided into two sections. The first section is a general overview of the religion’s relationship with cosmetic surgery as summary provided by the consulting bioethicist. The second portion is an annotated review of additional resources providing the reader further details on that religion. For example, our bioethicists provide a general perspective on Christianity as a whole, and the annotated review focuses on differences between Catholics and Protestants. We recognize the heterogeneity that is inherent in religion and the cultural and geographic biases that affect it. However, we aim to provide the reader a broad and basic foundation of the relationship between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam with cosmetic surgery to begin to create common ground between the physician and the patient and improve the process of shared decision-making and thus our outcomes. This paper should be seen as a foundation to build upon rather than an authoritative source, and specific patient concerns should be addressed with the patient’s own religious advisor.

Level of Evidence V

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Cultural competency Religion Cosmetic surgery Judaism Christianity Islam 



Judaism: Rabbi David Shabtai, MD. Dr. Rabbi Shabtai received his ordination from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, an affiliate of Yeshiva University and his medical degree from New York University School of Medicine. He authored the book “Defining the Moment: Understanding Brain Death in Halacha” and writes and lectures on a wide range of medical and scientific ethical issues. Christianity: Christian J. Vercler, MD, MA, FACS, FAAP. Dr. Vercler attended medical school at University of Illinois and underwent his general surgery residency at Emory University. He went on to a plastic surgery residency at Harvard and completed a craniofacial fellowship at University of Michigan. He has a master’s degree in theological studies from Wheaton College, and during his training, he obtained a masters degree in bioethics from Trinity International University. He is currently the Assistant Professor, Section of Plastic Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Michigan and Co-Chief, Clinical Ethics Service, Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine, University of Michigan. Islam: Hassan Chamsi-Pasha MD. Dr. Chamsi-Pasha studied medicine at the University of Aleppo School of Medicine. He then attended 3 years residency in Internal Medicine in the University Hospital of Damascus before moving to the UK to specialize in cardiology. He currently works as a consultant cardiologist. He is a counsellor to “The International Islamic Fiqh Academy” and has published many articles and books on Islamic bioethics.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature and International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck SurgeryRutgers New Jersey Medical SchoolNewarkUSA

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