Is Cosmetic Surgery Ethical In Bodybuilding?

Is cosmetic surgery ethical in bodybuilding? Breast and calf implants are examples of how one can try to beautify their physiques... What are some of the risks with this and synthol? Learn more.

TOPIC: Is Cosmetic Surgery Ethical In Bodybuilding?

The Question:

Breast and calf implants are examples of how one can try to beautify their physiques through the use of cosmetic surgery. Synthol is a substance that has also become a topic of debate in the bodybuilding community.

Is cosmetic surgery ethical in bodybuilding? Why or why not?

What are some of the risks to cosmetic surgery and synthol?

Have you, or would you consider using cosmetic surgery or synthol to beautify your physique?

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Breast and calf implants are examples of how one can try to beautify their physiques through the use of cosmetic surgery. Synthol is a substance that has also become a topic of debate in the bodybuilding community.

More and more pressure is being put on people to improve their appearance. The field of cosmetic surgery has grown, and nearly any change a person may want to their body can be accommodated, and quickly. Some procedures popular among bodybuilders, male and female, amateur or pro, include: calf implants, pectoral/breast implants, bicep implants, triceps implants, butt implants/lifting, liposuction, abdominal etching and even facial surgeries to name a few.

One substitute for surgery is the use of SEOs (site enhancement oils), Synthol (aka Pump N' Pose) being a popular example. Injecting these oils where a person wants the appearance of "fuller" muscles, the oil has been used to make a muscle look bigger for a limited period after injection.(1)

Is Cosmetic Surgery Ethical In Bodybuilding? Why Or Why Not?


In bodybuilding, there are many cosmetic surgical procedures a bodybuilder can use to enhance his or her appearance. As a matter of conscience, can a bodybuilder really call him or herself a bodybuilder if they haven't really worked to build their body, but have just paid for a pair of biceps?

Sure they are literally building their bodies with artificial "building blocks," but would you call an out-of-shape couch potato with pectoral implants a bodybuilder?

With recreational bodybuilders, it's a personal decision. If a person isn't completely happy with their body image, it's their own right to choose to reach their goal using artificial substances or surgery.

If a surgeon assesses a procedure as too risky it likely won't be performed. But for substances like Synthol, a person should recognize the risks involved before blindly trying to improve their appearance.

Cosmetic Plastic Surgery?
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Cosmetic Plastic Surgery?
Have any of you had Cosmetic Plastic Surgery? Facial or Body? If so, were/are you satisfied with the results?
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In male competitive bodybuilding, the contestants are being judged on their muscular physique. If the contestant has implants or has injected Synthol, then they really aren't showing their muscular physique. The same should apply to female competitive bodybuilding as well, figure and fitness competitions included.

In all fairness, it would be wrong to reward a competitor who has undergone surgery above a competitor who has trained hard to build his or her body, without the use of cosmetic surgery.

Instead of rewarding for hard earned bodybuilding, it would be rewarding a competitor for being willing enough to go to those lengths and who can afford the procedures. Even if such procedures aren't necessarily considered "cheating" in the competition, surgical enhancement cheats the other competitors out of a fair chance.

Basically any procedure or substance that is meant to push a person past what is physically possible; going against the laws of genetics should not be permitted in competitive bodybuilding.

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. Facial surgeries and cosmetic surgeries that are necessary for a bodybuilder to maintain a typical lifestyle such as reconstruction, implants and skin grafts after serious trauma should be accepted.

In competitions, the face is not being judged so should not be considered unethical, and discriminating against a competitor for having "necessary" cosmetic surgery is in itself unethical. Often, women may get breast implants for valid reasons that are acceptable, like helping in breast cancer recovery.

Without trying to sound sexist, breast implants for women shouldn't be considered unethical even in competitive bodybuilding. It is well known that women bodybuilders often reduce their breast size, from fat loss.

In fitness and figure competitions, the female physique is judged based on a "healthy" look, which implies muscularity and low body fat. Now, breast implants are meant to enhance or replace a body part composed solely of fat.

Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
In Figure Competitions The Female
Physique Is Judged Based On A Healthy Look.

As most women aren't so lucky as to body build and keep a full cup, breast implants should be an acceptable choice if they choose in favor of the surgery. For female bodybuilders who compete based on muscularity, breast implants would take away from the integrity of the pectoral muscle being judged on, so in most cases would not be an option for them at all.

What Are Some Of The Risks To Cosmetic Surgery & Synthol?


Any procedure "under the knife" has its risks. Serious problems are rare, but possible. Under anesthetic a person may experience heart complications, brain damage or stroke, aspiration, hyperthermia and even death. Now those examples are extremes.

Today's advances allow safer procedures greatly reducing any risk. But, in the case of implants themselves, there is always the chance of blood loss, clotting, bruising, nerve injury, or infection.

Another possibility involving implants is your own immune system. Your own body may reject the foreign object in your body, which can lead to some serious issues. (2) Even though you may think it can't happen to you, there is always the risk of addiction. If you are pleased with the surgery you have received, you may be tempted to undergo more.

With Synthol, or any other SEO, the muscle actually absorbs the oil injected. Injecting Synthol can increase the size of your muscles dramatically, and rapidly. Large, rapid growth is not good for your skin or your body that gets stressed to accommodate the change.


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Injection can accidentally hit a blood vessel leading to internal bleeding, cardiac arrest or stroke. These border the realm of mortality, which is a risk many are unwilling to take. Another possible risk of injection is infection or paralysis of certain muscle groups or loss of reflexes and senses if a motor or sensory neuron is struck. (3)

The best way to assess the risks involved in any procedure is to do research. If you don't know the effects, side effects or if there are too many "unknowns," question whether or not you are willing to risk it.

Bonus Question
Have You, Or Would You Consider Using Cosmetic Surgery Or Synthol To Beautify Your Physique?


I've been told "Wealth without Work" is one of the Seven Blunders of the World. Now I'm not saying that literally, but basically it applies because anything gained without work isn't something to be proud of.

Personally, I don't like the idea of putting something in my body that doesn't belong there in the first place. If I wasn't happy with my body, which I am, I doubt cosmetic surgery would help. Self-image is something that goes in the mind, not in the mirror ??" so cosmetic surgery for me is out.

Would You Consider Having Surgery Or Using Synthol?

Yes - Surgery
Yes - Synthol
Yes - Both
No - Neither

I wouldn't use Synthol or any site-enhancement oil either. The whole injection part of it doesn't appeal to me at all, and I would have more pride if I reached my goal with hard work. Overall I'm saying that to me, character is more important that appearance.




  1. (via Babel Fish)
  2. Araco, A., G. Gravante, F. Araco, D. Delogu, V. Cervelli, and K. Walgenbach. 2007. A retrospective analysis of 3000 primary aesthetic breast augmentations: postoperative complications and associated factors. Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. 31: 532-539.
  3. Pieper, B., R. S. Kirsner, T. N. Templin, and T. J. Birk. 2007. Injection drug use: an understudied case of venous disease. Archives of Dermatology. 143: 1305-1309.

2nd Place - bootylish
View This Author's BodySpace Here.

Due to the increasing popularity of cosmetic surgery and the latest trend of the "get thin quick" schemes, services are more readily available and seem to be a fad that is driving the cosmetic surgery industry.

No longer is hard work and dedication with spending hours in the gym appealing (for some people) when you can take a pill once a day or have a quick surgical procedure(1). With a weekend recovery time, bulking up or slimming down is a matter of spending the cash for fast results. Why wait three months to get noticeable results busting your @ss when you can have it overnight?

This is great for those who have little time (or so they believe), and an endless supply of cash, but where is the line drawn for bodybuilders who are entering competitions where judging is strictly based on results obtained from hard work and discipline?

Bodybuilding requires dedication, ambition, strength and mental focus. Other key factors are perseverance, proper nutrition balance, intense workout programs, and most importantly time required to put the effort in and get results out.

Time is the most valuable aspect to bodybuilding as it allows for a balance of all these things listed above. This is where the convenience of cosmetic surgery and other muscle enhancers come in to play. An area of the body that just isn't as big as one had hoped can be topped off with a little surgery or a simple injection of a muscle enhancer, like Synthol.

Is Cosmetic Surgery Ethical In Bodybuilding? Why Or Why Not?


The use of cosmetic surgery or muscle enhancers in bodybuilding is unethical for several different reasons. Synthetic "products" go against the principles of bodybuilding. Men and women compete based on overall body appearances that they have worked hard for, and are based on their overall gain.

Calf implants, muscle injections, the use of steroids and other artificial means of bulking up are considered cheating. Before competitions, contestants are often drug-tested, but how often are they thoroughly inspected for implants or "posing oils" such as Synthol?

These conditions should be enforced to eliminate the unfairness to other competitors who have made an honest effort to build their bodies. This also is unethical as it jeopardizes the opportunities of other competitors through exploiting them for personal gains.


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David Robson

Certain substances such as Synthol are not currently listed on the illegal substances list for competitions, but most judges are instructed to note any type of muscle augmentation, either implants or any foreign substance used to enhance the appearance of muscle size or shape(2).

The appearance of such enhancing methods results in the athlete having points deducted from his overall score. But do judges always notice these cosmetic enhancements? With modern technology surgical procedures are looking more and more "natural."

During fitness and figure competitions, participants are usually judged on overall symmetry, aesthetics, balance and proportion, size, muscularity, and the physique as a whole. If cosmetic surgery elicited no point deductions in judging, then it would be a competition to see who can get the most cosmetic alterations by the best surgeon, rather than a fitness/figure competition.

Synthetic enhancers are merely used as a "top up" comparable to motor oil in a car. It can be used just before a competition without the need to make any other muscle mass gains. The oil causes the muscle to swell, giving a fuller looking effect. In small doses is unidentifiable to the naked eye but yet gives that little extra for the competition.

What Are Some Of The Risks To Cosmetic Surgery & Synthol?


Although many procedures are reversible, the risks are not. As everyone is well aware, surgery of any kind can and usually does lead to scarring. Depending on the area of the body undergoing surgery, scarring may be more noticeable in certain areas. However, there are topical creams that are now available that help reduce the visibility of scarring.

Other risks include bleeding and hematomas, infections, seromas, although usually treated upon early discovery(3). Skin rashes can occur in reaction to sutures or anesthetics, and if undetected can lead to wound separation and death of deeper tissues.

The most severe risk is the damage of nerves during procedures that result in changes in sensation to the skin and surrounding areas and movement of the effect muscles(4). Of course every surgery has its own set of risks due to the nature of their procedure; however these risks may be minimized by the overall good health of a person.

Although many of the synthetic enhancers available such as Esiclene have an endless amount of information on composition and physiology, Synthol in particular does not.

Information available to the general public is minimal at best and because of this, how can we know how safe of a substance Synthol is? And how well has it been tested? Usually these substances are not something that is promoted by trainers in bodybuilding, and as these substances may have been classified as safe, the fact still remains that they are to be used at the users own risk.

Bonus Question
Have You, Or Would You Consider Using Cosmetic Surgery Or Synthol To Beautify Your Physique?


As it is hard enough to justify the use of certain products such as Synthol, cosmetic surgery is even more of a sticky issue. Women that have been diagnosed with breast cancer may have to endure the removal of one or both breasts in order to rid the body of cancer.

In this case, being a woman myself and not having experience with this, I can only imagine what the harsh realities of losing part of your womanhood. Breasts make women feel feminine and also contribute to how you feel about yourself. In this case I would definitely consider breast augmentation. Is it something that I would be doing for myself? Of course, and it would be for the reasons that I had listed above.

I have only considered breast augmentation, and it has only been in the last little while. As I am a petite female to begin with, I worry that as I lose more fat this will include a fat loss in my breasts. My breasts make me feel feminine. I haven't priced anything out or started looking for a surgeon, but it is something I have considered.


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Don't get me wrong, I would not want to have implants that make me go up three bra sizes, just something that would help me stay feeling sexy, and that would be proportionate to my body size.

As for other cosmetic surgeries such as liposuction or calf implants, and any sort of synthetic enhancers such as Synthol, I would say no thank you! I would rather have the gratification of knowing that my hard work and dedication paid off and I can say, "Yep. This is ALL me!"

-Bootylish, RN


  1. Weight loss by decreasing appetite and fat synthesis.

3rd Place - blackirish
View This Author's BodySpace Here.

Breast and calf implants are examples of how one can try to beautify their physiques through the use of cosmetic surgery. Synthol is a substance that has also become a topic of debate in the bodybuilding community.

Is Cosmetic Surgery Ethical In Bodybuilding? Why Or Why Not?


Asking whether cosmetic surgery is ethical is a rather simplistic question for a tremendously complex issue. The central issue is self image. Should someone content themselves with reaching the limits of their genetics? Or is it permissible to use current technology to enhance their bodies artificially? I think the answer is yes.

Bodybuilding is the pursuit of physical perfection, and frankly there is no law, written or unwritten, that states that that pursuit must be followed exclusively by means of weights, sets, and reps.

I feel that there is also a matter of degrees. If one body part refuses to respond, as calves often do, then implants may be the only way to correct an embarrassing imbalance. However, if someone is using implants for systemic enhancements (e.g. calf implants + pectoral implants + triceps implants, etc.) rather that putting in the effort to grow these body parts through training, then the dynamics of the issue change.

It is not likely that a trainer will suffer a serious genetic disadvantage in more than one muscle group, and using implants to enhance a muscle that can be induced to improve without cosmetic surgery indicates laziness. In this case a person ceases to be a bodybuilder and becomes just another plasticon (my word) who is willing to buy the perfect body.

Competition is another issue, however. I believe that pharmaceutical enhancement is equivalent to surgery in terms of its ethical implications, yet we accept, and in some cases encourage the use of anabolic steroids.


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The bodybuilding community reconciles itself to this reality by holding competitions for different classes of bodybuilders, natural and enhanced. Why not create a third class? If one wishes to improve their physique through the use of implants, they should reveal the fact and compete against others who have done the same. I do not believe such an endeavor would draw many fans, but it would still be "fair" to those competing.

Synthol is a subject that draws considerably more of my ire than calf or pec implants. Injecting a substance into or under your muscles to create the appearance of greater size and shape is dishonest, in my opinion.

Unlike implants, synthol strikes me as an easy way out. Again, if there was a dedicated class for individuals who want to use this substance, then it could not be accused of being an unfair practice. However, in my mind's eye I imagine men seeing their competition, and going backstage to inject more synthol in areas where they are at a disadvantage. Hardly an inspiring thought.

Should There Be A Dedicated Class For Those Who Use Synthol?


Personally, I don't believe I could respect anyone who uses excessive cosmetic enhancement. However, as long as one reveals any surgery they have had, or admits to using synthol, and competes against others who have had the same enhancements, then I see no "ethical" problems with these practices.

It is only when individuals hide artificially derived advantages in order to win, thereby deceiving judges and fans, that their ethics can be seriously called into question.

What Are Some Of The Risks To Cosmetic Surgery & Synthol?


Surgery always comes with risks. While infection may not be a commonplace occurrence these days, any procedure that involves incisions and the insertion of a foreign object into the human body carries some risk of creating infection.

Perhaps of more concern to the bodybuilder is the risk of the implant shifting after insertion, and creating an unsightly bulge or otherwise misshapen body part. Bodybuilders may also be concerned about the recovery layoff following training.

Finally, there is the risk that the implants will simply look unnatural. While having tiny calves may be embarrassing, cartoonish, artificially enhanced lower legs not only look terrible, they also make it obvious that you paid for your calves. A double-whammy of humiliation.

Synthol comes with a laundry list of risks. The most dire of which is the possibility of death if the substance is accidentally injected into a vein. Globules of oil can then travel to the lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism (the same thing happens when a blood clot reaches the lungs), to the heart (heart attack), or the brain (stroke).

Pulmonary embolism
Pulmonary embolism (PE) is a blockage of the pulmonary artery (or one of its branches), usually occuring when a blood clot from a vein becomes dislodged from its site of formation and embolizes to the arterial blood supply of one of the lungs.

Even if death does not result, these events can render one permanently disabled. Another serious risk of injecting synthol is the possibility of creating an abscess within the muscle. Such an abscess would require surgery, and might become life-threatening if the infection is allowed to go too far.

Bonus Question
Have You, Or Would You Consider Using Cosmetic Surgery Or Synthol To Beautify Your Physique?


Personally, I would not consider cosmetic surgery or synthol. I have been blessed genetically will full muscle bellies and thick shapely muscles even without weight training. Even liposuction, which would help with my struggles with body fat, does not appeal to me.

This is simply because I believe that I can attain my goals without such help. I have been gifted by nature with all the tools to succeed, and am very grateful.

I can, however, sympathize with the guy at the gym who destroys his calves on a regular basis to gain an extra scrap of size and shape, only to be thwarted by unfortunate insertion points or "chicken leg" genetics. In my opinion, such an individual can pursue cosmetic help without shame.


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To conclude, I think that using cosmetic means to enhance the physique is value neutral, unless one plans on competing. A bodybuilder may do whatever they wish with their body, so long as they are willing to accept the potential consequences of their decisions. One should think carefully, however, before risking their reputation, health, and perhaps even their life on cosmetic fixes for physical flaws.

3rd Place - Opiewags99
View This Author's BodySpace Here.

Breast and calf implants are examples of how one can try to beautify their physiques through the use of cosmetic surgery. Synthol is a substance that has also become a topic of debate in the bodybuilding community.

Is Cosmetic Surgery Ethical In Bodybuilding? Why Or Why Not?


Before we get into the issue of the ethics of synthol or surgery, let's discuss what they actually are first.

Synthol is essentially oil that can be directly injected into a weak muscle before a competition. It is generally not containing any sort of steroid or hormone, thus having a very short term effect. It basically serves the purpose of creating a bolus of oil under the skin with the intention of looking like muscle.

Now cosmetic surgery, is the surgical implantation of a bag of either silicon or saline under the skin (sometimes under the muscle) in order to also supply the appearance of larger muscles. Neither of the two actually increase muscle size but rather fill out the skin, making the appearance of bigger muscles. Now let's get into the ethics of the two.

The issue of cosmetic surgery is a really complicated issue. There are two sides to the issue as in most issues; the first being the belief that artificial substances such as synthol or surgical implants improve the physiques of the bodybuilders.

It is most certainly true, that a person that has calf implants and breast implants in addition to having shoulders loaded with synthol will have a more impressive looking physique than someone who has gone without.

Some people suggest that whatever the method, the bigger the bodybuilders are, the better. Now this makes sense, a bigger bodybuilder with humungous calves who is all synthol-ed up could quite possibly have more of an advertising effect for a company that is sponsoring them.

For example, if on one page of a muscle magazine there's a nice looking physique on an ad for a protein powder while there's the largest bodybuilder you've ever seen on the other advertising a different type of protein, you might be more inclined to buy that brand of protein for the simple fact that the athlete in the ad was larger. In addition to this, larger athletes might help draw more attention to the sport, possibly leading to bodybuilding being a more mainstream thing.

On the flip side, some people insist that synthol and surgery have a negative affect on the sport of bodybuilding. Now there are a few points to make about this issue.

One of them is the fact that this could be considered cheating. Doesn't it make sense that some competitors on a bodybuilding stage shouldn't be allowed to have implants or synthol while others do not? So this leads to the idea that the Bodybuilding federations could possibly make these procedures legal. The problem with this is that some bodybuilders are truly into the bodybuilding lifestyle for more than just the simple fact that they want to win their competitions, they want to live a healthy lifestyle.

Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.

If synthol and implants are allowed in competitions that will basically make it almost essential for a competitor to have in order to win a competition, and some competitors are simply unwilling to do that.

Another point to make about this issue is that some people say that this is cheating. Now what makes this cheating? Isn't the goal to look as big and as impressive as humanly possible? Or is it really about working as hard as you can to put on the muscle to create the size necessary to win.

I find it extremely hard to decide if this is cheating or not. I think that one of the defining questions behind this is if the use of steroids is cheating or not. It seems that both are not "natural" ways of building a physique, but what makes one more or less fair than the other?

Now I don't want to get into the issue of steroids more than a bit, but it is most certainly not natural to have the amount of testosterone in the blood that some bodybuilders have. Similar to this, but not completely, is the fact that neither synthol nor implants are naturally found in the body.

Now, the true question here is if these additions to the physique are ethical. There really can be no other answer than no for this, and there are good reasons why these are not ethical.

First of all, the idea that some people are competing with artificial additions to their bodies is unfair to other competitors, even if it may or may not be against the rules.

The second reason is the idea that the athletes could be risking their own health for the sake of winning. Officials overseeing competitions certainly don't want their star athletes risking their lives, and thus not showing up to help promote their events.

What Are Some Of The Risks To Cosmetic Surgery & Synthol?


As with any forms of surgery, there is a semi-high risk of infection, that can potentially lead to death. Now this is more common in bodybuilders (infections) because of simple fact that the athletes find it very hard to stop their training regimens long enough to adequately regrow the tissue that was damaged during the procedure.

If the procedure is performed, the athlete also needs to take extra special care of the area when weight training because it will permanently remain fragile, as it is not actually muscle.

Synthol on the other hand has the risk of infection, due to the fact that it needs to be injected in addition to having shady or black-market sources. Not knowing where something comes from, that you intend to inject into your body is never a smart idea. Be careful!

Bonus Question
Have You, Or Would You Consider Using Cosmetic Surgery Or Synthol To Beautify Your Physique?


I have never tried either of the above to beautify my physique, as I am a strict believer in hard work in addition to a low-carb and high protein diet.

I suggest that everyone get adequate protein, and try many different training regimens before considering surgery or synthol. I assure you that an excellent physique is possible to you without the use of the above two. Check out the thousands of fine workout articles on the internet, and let me know.

Thanks for Reading!

-K (Opiewags99)

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