“Ask a Priest: I am considering liposuction… Will I go to hell for this?”

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Q: I got two tattoos many years ago, which I thought were spiritual and pretty. I also had some permanent makeup, and as a result of a scar on my scalp, I had that scar tattooed the color of my hair to make the scar less noticeable. Also, I have had some minor cosmetic procedures. I did not get them to be vain or have people worship me — I just got them to be more comfortable in my own skin, and ironically less preoccupied with my physical appearance. I am now 45 and am considering a bit of liposuction, as I noticed a bit of fat deposits that were not there before. So basically, my question is, will I go to hell for this? -C.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: That you are concerned about your eternal salvation is a good sign. The way to pursue salvation, though, is to focus on your spiritual life and less on your physical appearance.

Your previous use of tattoos and other cosmetic procedures and now your current interest in even more cosmetic procedures seem to indicate that, in fact, you haven’t become less preoccupied with your physical appearance. Do you really feel secure about yourself?

Here it would be good to recall that God loves you. You are a beloved daughter to him. You already are beautiful in God’s eyes, and he only wants the best for you. And that means building a deep relationship with his son Jesus Christ.

Your specific question regards a procedure to remove excess fatty tissue from under the skin by suction. Undergoing liposuction is not in itself morally wrong if the medical risks are not that high. Nevertheless, the procedure seems a bit over the top, and imprudent. Would this procedure, perhaps, only fuel the fires of vanity?

We all get old. Physical attractiveness eventually fades. Real beauty comes from a loving heart and from holiness. These are the things that are worth your efforts.

I would encourage you to develop your prayer life (see this YouTube video). Read some of the Bible each day, and frequent the sacraments. That is how the beauty of God will shine forth in you. Count on my prayers that you embrace that truth.

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