Illustration by Trịnh Lập
By Nguyễn Minh Hương
Showing off her hot body with a flat belly in a tight black dress on Facebook, 40-year-old Hương Vũ from Switzerland asks her friends to help her choose the tattoo to cover up a scar on her tummy.
As a single mum of two who runs a busy nail business in Switzerland, Hương returned to Hà Nội last October to have her tummy tuck at the Hà Nội Medical University Hospital as she could no longer live with her body.
Paying VNĐ60 million (nearly US$2,600) for the surgery, now Hương says she has an “amazing sexy body” and jokingly announced: “From now on I will only date young, hot boys.”
Three months after the tummy tuck, Hương lost another ten kilograms to drop to 52kg. She works out every day to keep her belly as flat as possible. She told Việt Nam News: “I am super happy with my decision to return to Việt Nam to find my former sexy body. If I'd done it in Switzerland, it would have been ten times more expensive.”
Hương is not the only one who is happy with her tummy tuck. After losing more than 20 kilograms in just three months using weight-loss medicine, Hằng Nguyễn had a lot of excess skin, ugly wrinkles and stretch marks. After losing weight, the 22-year-old became really "depressed" with her new look.
"I lost weight but I was crying again and again when I saw myself in the mirror. I wanted to make my ex-boyfriend jealous for leaving me. But if he saw my belly, he would be happy with his choice," Hằng said.
At first, Hằng planned to go to South Korea where she would have a tummy tuck at a clinic in Seoul costing VNĐ300 million. After sharing her intention with a group of more than 200,000 local Facebookers who had cosmetic surgery in Hà Nội, Hằng decided not to go abroad and instead go under the knife at a local clinic in the capital city.
Hằng paid VNĐ45 million for the operation as the doctor told her a tummy tuck for a woman who had not had children was much cheaper than for those who had.
According to Phạm Thị Việt Dung, deputy head of the Cosmetic Surgery Department at the Hà Nội Medical University, a tummy tuck is a procedure designed to remove excess skin and fat from the midsection while tightening the abdominal muscles.
“Tummy tuck surgery will give the patients a tighter, smoother, and flatter stomach. In many cases, people can't have a flat belly no matter how hard they work out.” Dung told Việt Nam News.
Dung explained that for many women, especially those who have children or lose weight too fast, their skin loses elasticity, forming stretch marks across the belly.
“Every woman has the right to look the way she wants. So it is okay for them to go for either a flat belly or bigger breast, or whatever doctors like us can help them with," she said.
For a sexy belly, Dung thinks a tummy tuck is the best choice.
Dung told Việt Nam News that after having surgery, her patients are asked to spend about a week in hospital to monitor. The recovery takes about a month, providing there are no complications.
“But the best results arrive after six months,” she said.
Figures about these types of procedures are not available in Việt Nam, but they are becoming increasingly available.
As a mother of three wondering about whether I should do more exercise to keep fit or go under the knife, I turned to the Facebook group for advice, and the majority of people said I should go for the second option.
More than ten people messaged me with their before and after photos to encourage me.
Dung’s hospital doesn’t advertise, and she only accepts patients who know her reputation.
“It must be a lot as I cannot remember how many tummy tucks I have done since I joined the hospital three months ago.”
Dr Mai Mạnh Tuấn offers a 10 per cent discount for “a flatter belly” at his private clinic in Hà Nội. Costs range from VNĐ45-80 million case by case.
Tuấn must have records of his patents but he did not share the number with Việt Nam News. Instead he said his business was going very well and planned to expand in Hà Nội from his clinic on Yên Phụ Street.
In Hà Nội, there are ten hospitals with cosmetic departments and 83 clinics with licences, but there are also underground facilities operating illegally.
The number is probably more in HCM City due to its higher population. Plus there is a growing number of cosmetic clinics in big cities like Đà Nẵng, Hải Phòng, Quảng Ninh and Nha Trang, so it is obvious a tummy tuck procedure is readily available.
Dr Dung from the Hà Nội Medical University warned that although the surgery could make a big change, it should only be performed by experienced doctors at a well-equipped facility.
Dung's patient from Switzerland, Hương, said some of her foreign friends and customers were considering coming to Việt Nam for the same surgery after they'd seen her transformation. VNS