Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Unlicensed "cut and tuck" parlours popular

Unlicensed "cut and tuck" parlours popular

Unlicensed "cut and tuck" parlours popular

"I was applying for a job," says Sokha, an English teacher in her mid-twenties.

"That's why I went to a plastic surgery clinic to get my nose long and pointed.

Before, I had a short and flat nose. I couldn't even wear

sunglasses."

"You know," she says, pointing at a huge picture stuck on

the wall of a Vietnamese plastic surgery clinic showing a very good-looking

Western woman, "I want to be 'same same' her. The same long nose, and why not

the same breast? This operation brought into my life a kind of security I've

never had before."

"Look now," she says, wearing a fake pair of Ray-Ban

sunglasses. "Isn't it beautiful?"

Sokha is one of a growing number of

Cambodians spending plenty of money altering their features by plastic surgery.

Most of the operations are performed in unauthorized, unlicensed and unhygienic

surgeries.

There are no laws governing the surgeries, so local

authorities seem content to turn a blind eye to them.

An unlicensed

Vietnamese "doctor" told the Post: "Phnom Penh is turning out to be a better

place for this kind of business than Saigon. The business and profit margins are

better here. The consumer demand is big and creates competition."

He

clinic has been running for five years and he averages eight appointments a

day.

Thirty percent of his clients are skinny men who want their cheeks

puffed up. The rest include prostitutes and wealthy women who want to please

their husband - nose, breast, eye and stomach jobs, costing between $100 to $200

and generally taking two visits to complete the operation.

The "surgeon"

acknowledges that he isn't a doctor but his father was one and taught him the

art of modeling a new face. He said his clinic is outfitted with "modern medical

equipment that equals world-class quality at a fraction of Western prices".

But when the Post visited it looked like a basic, though very dusty,

hotel room, with used and dirty sheets, a cupboard filled with Chinese herbal

medicines and an air-conditioner that, he insisted, broke down a few days ago

only.

Doctor Marc Eric Borne, a French physician, practices plastic

surgery in Phnom Penh with a surgeon. His clients are usually Khmer living

abroad.

"I had in my clinic many patients who came to ask me to remove

the sile that has been inserted by these so-called doctors, because it was too

painful to bear".

"The official statistics leave out many of these small

businesses that operate underground, where they escape being taxed," says a

source close to the Ministry of Health in Phnom Penh.

The source said

that only one physician asked authorization to the Ministry of Health to open a

clinic, but he had to hire a Khmer doctor to perform plastic surgery.

The

source said that patients are not given any real treatment and are not followed

up.

He added that these clinics are ill-equipped and the government is

reluctant to acknowledge them, but "because of the lack of law, we cannot close

them down. There is a kind of anarchy."

He said Vietnamese and Chinese

"plastic surgeons" were not fully-trained, or had degrees that were not

recognized in Cambodia.

Like the Chinese woman, a so-called doctor who

practices nose, eye-lids and lips operations - ironically, next to the Ministry

of Health.

In the waiting room, two well-dressed Chinese girls told the

Post that they work along with the surgeon as nurses.

When the surgeon

was asked if she held a medical degree, she proudly displayed a diploma on which

was written in English: "Hair and Beauty course successfully completed in Hong

Kong."

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