Britney Spears enjoyed a triumphant return to the scene of one of her most humiliating public appearances here, scooping three top honors at the MTV Video Music Awards.

The pop icon suffered a critical mauling at the same awards show last year, when she stumbled and mimed her way through a performance that came amid turmoil in her private and professional life.

But a beaming Spears -- who appears to have got her career back on track in recent months after a seemingly endless series of lurid headlines -- cut a different figure as she accepted her honors here Sunday.

Spears won prizes for best female video, best pop video and video of the year for her single "Piece of Me" which took aim at the paparazzi who follow her every day.

It was the first time Spears had won a statuette at the MTV video awards despite 16 previous nominations.

"Thank God first and foremost for just blessing me like this, thank my beautiful family, my two beautiful boys for just inspiring me every day and my fans, this is for you. Thank you so much," Spears said after collecting her first award of the night.

Spears recently ended a custody dispute with ex-husband Kevin Federline regarding the couple`s two young sons.

The Los Angeles-based singer lost custody of the children last year as her life unraveled in the full glare of a frenzied media.

She hit rock bottom in January when she was twice rushed to hospital for treatment in a psychiatric unit following fears for her mental health.

Spears shot to superstardom in late 1998 with her smash-hit debut album "Baby One More Time," which she followed with another chart-topping success the following year, "Oops! ... I Did It Again".