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Viewpoint: Freeze the Botax

By: Steven H. Dayan, MD, FACS
Posted: December 3, 2009

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And what of children whose ears stand out, or developing females with asymmetric breasts, or teenagers with acne? How about treatments for obesity? Is it or isn’t it a disease? If it is a disease, than will liposuction, stomach-stapling, and face lifts after massive weight loss be subjected to a cosmetic tax? Where does it stop?

Should we arbitrarily consider taxing other cosmetic indulgences, such as manicures, massages and eyebrow waxing? Who will decide what is and isn’t cosmetic: physicians, a government body or perhaps a cosmetic czar?

And if a physician, in attempts to protect his patients, doesn’t collect the tax according to the letter of the law and is subject to an audit, will patients’ records be subpoenaed and exposed to the public? Will privacy laws prevail or will Americans tolerate their individual freedoms being compromised in the name of a cosmetic tax?

No longer is cosmetic medicine a treatment limited to an elite class. The majority—90%—undergoing cosmetic medical procedures are now middle-class households earning less than $90,000 per year.10 And as benefits are becoming further established, more of the population wants to take part in them.

Botox and cosmetic procedures are becoming increasingly affordable. Cosmetic medicine today is a field of study providing improvement in quality of life issues for many Americans. The widespread availability, increasing competition and proven benefits have driven the price of nonsurgical cosmetic medical treatments closer to that of a haircut than that of a face lift. The effects of cosmetic medicine on society are just beginning to be realized, but if millions of Americans can enjoy a better quality of life, what impact would this have on their productivity, both at work and at home? It should seem obvious that a person who enjoys a better quality of life contributes more positively to society, both economically and emotionally. Unlike other sins that can be erosive to society, such as alcohol, cigarettes and arguably fast food, scientific and empirical evidence indicates cosmetic medicine can provide value and strength to society.

Purveyors of self-esteem