Life-changing plastic surgery on rise

March 02, 2019 | 10:00
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Vietnam’s technological developments and improvements in human skills in cosmetic plastic surgery is partly answering the demand and is beginning to compete with similar services in other countries across the world. Phuong Hao reports.
life changing plastic surgery on rise
More people are looking into plastic surgery to tweak their appearance or boost their self-esteem but for others it is a vital operation to improve their lives

The story of the so-called “frog prince” Nguyen Manh Hung in the northern province of Nam Dinh has moved many people. For 28 of his 29 years, he had to move in a way that some compared to a frog because of his twisted tree root-like legs. He had to use his two hands as paddles to push his body forward. .

Last December, after eight months of treatment and three ­operations at 108 Military Central Hospital in Hanoi, he was discharged with two straight and equally-long legs. “This is really magical. It’s a dream to me. I can’t believe that my legs are now normal like this,” Hung said.

As the doctor directly involved in Hung’s case, Nguyen The Hoang, deputy director of the hospital, happily said, “The feeling of the two legs is very good. Thanks to this, and the balance of the motor function of muscles in folding, stretching, and turning, the patient will be able to walk as normally as others.”

According to the professor, in just four to six months, Hung will be able to walk and even run easily.

Before going to 108 Military Central Hospital after an accident, Hung’s parents had taken him to many hospitals across the country, only to be met with the head shakes of doctors who believed their son’s situation was too complicated to be treated. Their hopes were raised when a team of American orthopedic surgeons came to Nam Dinh, but even these experts said that Hung’s illness was incurable.

Hoang said: “X-ray images of both lower ­extremities showed that the entire bone and joint system was deformed and complicated. The length of the legs was totally different. The important elements covering and ensuring functions for both legs like skin, weight, muscles, tendons, blood vessels, and nerves were also abnormal. Due to the lack of movement, he had heavy osteoporosis.”

When Hung’s dream of walking on normal legs like other people was realised, happiness not only spread to Hung’s family but to all doctors and nurses at the hospital. “This is an outstanding success in new technical professional development, and in the high-technology of the hospital,” shared Nguyen Hong Bang, director of the hospital.

Elsewhere, Vietnam Germany Hospital has successfully performed orbital floor fracture regeneration with a complete endoscopic technique through the mouth for a 31-year-old patient. Six months after the operation, the patient can now see with normal eyeball movements.

“Regenerations like this must be carried out by experienced doctors. This technique helps to reach the surgical area accurately while leaving no external scars,” said Vu Trung Truc, deputy head of the Department of Maxillo Facial Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery at the hospital.

These two cases were difficult, and their successful completion shows the improvement and impressive development of Vietnamese plastic surgery.

Remarkable progress

Vu Ngoc Lam, now director of the Department of Maxillio Facial Plastic Surgery at 108 Military Central Hospital, said, “We often travel to South Korea to update on new technologies and refresh our knowledge. However, we learn more from the failures we witness. Therefore, we don’t step into mistakes that were made elsewhere.”

When asked about the quality of Vietnamese plastic surgery, Lam expressed his belief that it is not far behind other countries, particularly South Korea. “We can do whatever doctors in South Korea do. However, there is still a gap which hasn’t been eradicated yet. It is related to many factors, including people’s perception of beauty,” he said.

Making a comparison with Thailand, Lam said, “Thai people have a similar perception of beauty to us. However, they overpass us in the field of transgender surgery. No other techniques are out of reach for us.”

According to Lam, cosmetic and plastic surgery is highly profitable. Investors will buy new machines and fund new techniques so that they can best serve customers and patients. Meanwhile, to professionals, the field is an interesting one, so doctors do not hesitate to invest time and energy in approaching the newest technologies from across the world.

Talking about the development of the country’s plastic surgery, Le Hanh, chairman of the Vietnam Society of Aesthetic and Plastic Surgery (VSAPS), said that the industry has made remarkable progress comparable to other countries in the region. “Over the years, Vietnamese doctors and nurses have been sent to developed countries for training. They have ample chances to be updated on new techniques and work with new technologies,” Hanh said.

However, Hanh also pointed out some shortages of plastic surgery in Vietnam. “One of the worrisome issues is a significant increase of clinics without a licence or operating beyond the scope of licensing. This will cause many incidents and consequences for patients,” he said.

Furthermore, according to Hanh, most customers lack knowledge, too easily believing in advice and advertisements with no scientific basis. “It is time for us to create mechanisms and policies to help the plastic surgery industry move in the right direction. We need more talented doctors for sustainable development and for the safety of the industry,” Hanh added.

With these concerns, last year Hanh and other professors made great efforts to establish the VSAPS, which currently boasts more than 200 members.

“The society’s main duties are training, updating medical knowledge, and sharing experience and knowledge among members. We also connect prestigious doctors, specialists, hospitals, and cosmetic plastic surgery units all over the world,” Hanh said.

Demand increases

Over the past few years, the demand for plastic surgery in Vietnam has been rapidly increasing. Both patients and those looking to improve their body in some way are contributing to the rise. As a result, Vietnam is witnessing a rise in plastic surgery centres at major hospitals, as well as a boom in clinics in the field.

According to Vu Ngoc Lam of 108 Military Central ­Hospital, some people have a legitimate aspiration to become more beautiful.

“There is a trend that not only young people but also middle-aged and elderly people expect to have a better look so that they can be more ­confident at work and gain more success in life,” Lam told VIR. “Both men and women in their fifties or sixties are showing more interest in, or using, more beauty services over ­recent years. These are good signals.”

Hanh of the VSAPS added that with the trend of global integration, people have a more open view on plastic surgery and are willing to spend money on these services.

“Previously, people may have avoided ­mentioning the word aesthetics, but with the desire to live longer and feel beautiful, there is a rise in demand in this area,” he said.

According to Hanh, other factors such as better living conditions, increasing population, and the influence of the world’s aesthetic trends have increased people’s demand for plastic surgery.

“Many people tell me that it is hard to tell how much money someone has, but if you are beautiful they can recognise immediately and in fact, they believe that beauty can help you a lot in life,” Hanh added.

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