Rise of the knife

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More and more young celebrities are rushing to go under the knife. Some admit it; some don't. Either way, the pressure to stay beautiful makes plastic surgery a tempting solution.

Vietnamese celebrities are shelling out for thinner waistlines, bigger boobs, fuller lips and rounder eyes in the hopes of keeping the flashbulbs popping and the tabloids printing their name.

Model-turned-actress Phi Thanh Van (a plastic surgery success story if there ever was one) said she felt much more confident since her boob, eye and nose jobs. Her public announcement of the extensive overhaul gave her career as a model, cinema and stage actress a much-needed boost

Model-turned-actress Phi Thanh Van (pictured) said she felt much more confident after her boob, eye, teeth and nose jobs

These days, the public is more forgiving of celebrities who turn to cosmetic surgery. Nevertheless, most starlets aggressively deny rumors that they may have had a nip or a tuck.

Tabloids now suspect models, actresses, singers and beauty queens of taking these surgical short-cuts. Vu Thu Phuong, My Tam, Thuy Tien, Yen Trang and Bao Thy have all been rumored to rely on the knife to sustain their beauty.

None of them have admitted to doing so.

Honkers, peepers and boobs

Mai Phuong Thuy (Miss Vietnam 2006) denied breast augmentation to Ngoisao.net e-newspaper. Plastic surgery is not a bad thing, she said, but she didn't need it.

"I have better things to work on, like knowledge or personality," the voluptuous Thuy said.

But one look at her inflated chest leaves little doubt that the rumors were true.

Up to now, only singer Ho Quynh Huong, Minh Quan, model Phi Thanh Van and Chung Thuc Quyen have admitted to having their nose and eyes augmented. Few doubt that the barely-recognizable Ho Quynh Huong went in for a full face-lift though she has twice insisted that she only had one minor adjustment to her nose.

According to Thanh Van, a webmaster in Ho Chi Minh City, it is normal for celebrities to undergo plastic surgery - their beauty is their livelihood.

"Celebrities usually have enough money to hire reliable doctors," Van told Thanh Nien Weekly. "Otherwise, they just go abroad to get safe plastic surgery. Anyway, they should know the limit. Are the big nips and tucks the only way to improve their looks? Have they forgotten about diet and exercise? Do they consider the potential health risks?"

To tuck, or not to tuck...

Model Van Anh recently sat down to discuss her ideas about plastic surgery with the My Thuat (Aesthetic) magazine. In the interview, Anh argued that every woman has an inherent charm that suits her appearance.

"If a woman asks me about plastic surgery, I respond by talking about the tragedy of failed surgery," she was quoted as saying. "You're lucky if you survive the procedure and everything comes out alright, but

what happens when these procedures go wrong? How can you take back your original beauty? I know there are many local artists that have undergone cosmetic surgery. It's easy to recognize. Whether they admit it or not is their personal issue."

Thu Van, a successful plastic surgeon with clinics named Hoa Do in HCMC and Hanoi says that many local women, especially models, seek out her services to improve their appearance. Speaking as a doctor, she sees nothing intrinsically wrong with the practice.

And it is, indeed, on the rise. Van says that she earns more from plastic surgery than any other

health care or beauty treatment professional in Hanoi or HCMC.

"I think cosmetic procedures are an indispensable part of modern beautification. Women have the right to do it. They don't just ask me for nose jobs, breast implants, or liposuction in hip or waist. Some want weird revisions"”like making their earlobes bigger for good luck."

Despite her enthusiasm, Van did acknowledge the risks involved.

"There are a lot of hidden risks involved with any surgery, even when you choose a prestigious physician," Van told Thanh Nien Weekly. "You must conduct a careful search before deciding."

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