Answered by Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari
Question: Hope you are well by the Grace of Allah. I had a quick question with respect to facial aesthetics. I am a dentist and things like Botox injection and dermal fillers are becoming widely used. What Botox does is paralyze the muscles for a period of time which helps to reduce wrinkles. Also there are dermal fillers which are used at times to resolve some folds which may develop around the nose area with age. My question is, are such products permissible, in other words would ones income from such procedures be considered valid.
Answer: In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,
The Islamic perspective on matters relating to beautification and adornment is one of extreme balance. On one hand, Shari’ah allows the various genuine non-surgical means of beautification such as the use of jewellery, Hena, Kohl, perfume and various creams and balms. On the other hand, however, it prohibits the tampering and altering of the body through surgical means considering it a form of mutilation and “changing the nature created by Allah (taghyir khalq Allah)” hence the prohibition of cosmetic surgery.
Based on this principle, since Botox and Dermal fillers are non-surgical methods of treating scars, wrinkles, lines and other depressions on the face with the intention of improving one’s appearance (the treatment involves injecting the materials into the affected area of the skin), they are not prohibited in of themselves. However, certain concerns still remain:
Firstly, these injections may contain unlawful and impure substances such as those from pigs or human albumin (source: US Food and Drug Administration) making them unlawful. Thus, if this indeed is the case, it will not be permitted to have them injected into the skin merely for cosmetic purposes. One may avail of them to help alleviate a medical condition such as cerebral palsy or face burns, under the dispensation of using impermissible substances as medication, but that too is subject to certain conditions – namely: a) the medicine/injection is reasonably known to be effective, b) it is needed, c) there is no Halal alternative, and d) the medical need is established by a specialist preferably a Muslim doctor who is at least outwardly upright and god-fearing. (See: Radd al-Muhtar ala al-Durr, 1/210)
Secondly, Botox is said to result in many serious side effects like experiencing difficulty in swallowing, breathing and speaking. Some can even be life threatening (US Food and Drug Administration). Although, one may not experience any pain or side effect, the possibility remains, and as such, it is not desirable, to say the least, risking one’s health for the sake of improving appearance.
Finally, becoming embroiled in the cosmetic and fashion industry has its own negatives, and ethically wrong in of itself. Unfortunately, the current fashion industry expects us to not even have a few wrinkles or lines on our faces and hence things like Botox injections and dermal fillers are being used widely. Islam teaches us to age gracefully and be content with what our Creator has created us with. The standard of one’s beauty is not the external appearance; but rather, piety, virtuous actions and good conduct towards others. As such, even if these products were to not contain any unlawful substances, they would be ethically wrong, in normal cases, as they go against the spirit of Islamic teachings.
The Shari’ah ruling for carrying out such procedures on patients follows that of the procedure itself. If they are proven to contain unlawful substances, it will not be permitted for you as a dentist to deal with them for purely cosmetic reasons, since Allah Most High says, “Help you one another in righteousness and piety, but help you not one another in sin and rancor.” (Surah al-Ma’idah, V: 2)
And Allah knows best
Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari
Darul Iftaa, Leicester, UK