While growing quickly and presumably improving with the burgeoning demand, plastic surgery in Vietnam shares several big shortcomings with neighboring Cambodia: a large unlicensed and unqualified pool of providers, minimal regulation, and lax enforcement of laws.
There are indeed well-trained and skilled plastic surgeons providing cosmetic services in licensed facilities and hospitals at prices sometimes only 15% of those in the West.
Still, many patients select their surgeons based on cost alone, and so the best doctors may find it hard to compete with even lower prices available from the unlicensed.
In Ho Chi Minh City, a major plastic surgery hub along with Hanoi, only about one-fourth of the clinics are accredited by the city health authorities.
Advertised training, references, and certifications are sometimes not authentic, making it hard to evaluate qualifications.
Only Hanoi University has a formal training program in plastic surgery, so most practitioners either come from abroad or are trained in other specialties and learn their new trade on the job.
With regulation so lacking, patients can also choose to undergo major surgery by the unqualified in shady beauty salons and spas on one hour's notice.
While the wealthy often travel out of the country for cosmetic surgery, a medical resort recently opened in the southern seaside town of Ving Tau to attract patients from abroad, especially Vietnamese expatriates willing to return to their homeland for more affordable care.
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