HANOI - Vietnamese police have arrested the owner of an unlicensed cosmetic surgery centre after he allegedly threw the body of a patient who died during a botched operation into a river, state media said Wednesday.
The 39-year-old woman, who has not been seen since Saturday, is believed by police to have died on the operating table while undergoing a breast enhancement procedure, according to the official Vietnam News Agency.
"After six hours of surgery she began to convulse," VNA said, adding that no body has yet been found.
Police, citing information from centre owner Nguyen Manh Tuong and his employees, said the woman died despite efforts by the Hanoi centre's staff to revive her.
Tuong then "used a car to carry the victim's body to Thanh Tri bridge... he threw her body into the river", the report said, adding that it was believed efforts had also been made to conceal evidence of the operation.
The victim's husband did not know she was undergoing a surgical procedure but when searching her belongings after she went missing found a receipt for the appointment, state media reported.
The surgery centre, which has been operating since April, has a business licence but no permit to carry out cosmetic surgery, VNA said.
The Ministry of Health sent condolences to the victim's family and "strongly condemned the unacceptable behaviour of the doctor", according to a statement.
It has suspended the doctor - who was a staff doctor at a state hospital but also running the private cosmetic clinic - and said it would cooperate with the police investigation.
Although no official statistics are available, media reports suggest the number of Vietnamese women undergoing procedures such as breast augmentation and facelifts has increased significantly.
Vietnam's health sector in general is poorly regulated and consumers are often forced to rely on personal recommendations or guesswork to find suitable health clinics.
Many doctors at state-run hospitals also run unlicensed private clinics or offer treatment from their homes.