“Ask a Priest: Would Botox Injections Go Against God’s Plan?”

Q: I am a few months shy of 50 and the idea of getting a Botox injection on my forehead has been haunting me. Is it going against God’s plan? Is it moral? -D.N.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: Your question touches on a lot of issues, including the motivation for such treatment as well as the costs and dangers involved. There is no simple answer in this case.

Botox injections consist of a small dose of botulinum toxin type A which can prevent the development of wrinkles by paralyzing facial muscles. (Botulinum toxin type A in a more concentrated form is poisonous.)

First, you want to ask yourself why you would consider Botox treatments. Its cosmetic effect would seem to be an obvious motivation.

In principle cosmetics have their place. There is nothing wrong with wanting to present oneself well in public. Tasteful and modest dress can enhance the beauty of a woman and help reflect her dignity as a daughter of God. Perhaps you are in a job or position where image is important and can help your effectiveness. Perhaps you are supporting a family and your professional status can be an impact on the household finances. These might be legitimate reasons for considering enhanced cosmetic procedures.

A deeper question is how you view yourself. The approach of your 50th birthday might be prompting introspection. Here it is good to remember that in God’s eyes you are as beautiful as ever. Pope John Paul II in his Letter to Women wrote that “there is constantly revealed, in the variety of vocations, that beauty — not merely physical, but above all spiritual — which God bestowed from the very beginning on all, and in a particular way on women” (No. 12).

The real beauty of a woman shines through her loving heart. Is that the kind of beauty that inspires you?

A second factor is cost. Botox can run several hundred dollars for each area treated, and their effects might last only a few months. Is it justifiable to spend that much for a cosmetic treatment, at a time when more than 1 billion people live on $1.25 or less a day? Pope Francis in his apostolic exhortation The Joy of the Gospel writes, “Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor” (No. 1).

A third factor is the medical risk involved. Botox injections are not without risks (see the Mayo Clinic webpage). That such injections are not needed for physical health should make one think twice about undertaking risks. The Catechism reminds us, “Life and physical health are precious gifts entrusted to us by God. We must take reasonable care of them” (No. 2288).

You will want to pray about the Botox injections and ask yourself if the costs, risks, and motivations are in sync with living the Gospel. I pray that the Holy Spirit guides you. God bless.

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