Born here in Singapore, celebrity plastic surgeon Dr Woffles Wu spent much of his growing up years living in London. His mother affectionately nicknamed him “Woffles”, after a rabbit from an Enid Blyton novel, The Magic Far Away Tree. Somehow this quirky nickname stuck throughout the doctor’s young life, and he grew to accept it. “My mom was a beautician-turned-lawyer and she had a large influence on me. When I was a little boy, I would help her with manicures, pedicures and even make-up application,” reminisces the doctor.
At the age of twelve, Dr Wu returned to Singapore and went to school at St Andrew’s. I was flabbergasted to learn that the smart doctor just passed his PSLE exams, and barely scraped through the GCE “O” level examinations because he nearly flunked his second language. Dr Wu is living proof that one does not necessarily need to excel academically to be successful later on in life. Just pondering his numerous achievements makes me gasp in awe.
This is Dr Wu’s 20th anniversary as a practicing doctor. In retrospect, the doctor’s big break came about when he won the coveted “Young Surgeon of the Year Award” in 1990 for a published scientific paper on nasal anatomy. In the span of his career, Dr Wu has given talks in a myriad of countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, USA and most recently Belgium. He views himself as an international surgeon that practices in and out of Singapore. The articulate doctor is proud of his expanding global appeal and believes that his achievements will place Singapore medicine on the world map. He says, “I love Singapore. It is my wish to internationalise the arena of Singapore medicine and to bring the glamour of Beverley Hills here.”
While admiring the painting and sculpture collection strategically displayed throughout his home, it dawned on me that the doctor is truly fanatical about the arts. I was curious to find out how this world-renowned aesthetic surgeon perceived beauty. “Beauty is difficult to define. However, you will know it when you see it. It exists in everyday objects, architecture, clothing and not just human faces. Physical beauty inspires and causes us to react in a multitude of positive ways. It just takes my breath away…” muses Dr Wu. A self-confessed film buff, Dr Wu has a penchant for old Japanese films such as Yasujiro Ozu’s Tokyo Story, samurai flicks such as Kurosawa’s Twilight Samurai and has even watched the motion picture The Last Samurai a dozen times. His fascination and interest with Bushido extends to literature. He is currently reading Inazo Nitobe’s The Soul of Japan. During his leisure, multi-talented Dr Wu pursues hobbies like gardening, photography, making sculptures and painting. His psycho-erotic art works stare right at your face and make you contemplate the underlying message that he is trying to express.
Charitable Dr Wu auctions his paintings to raise funds for various causes and needy charities. He also serves on the National Heritage Board’s oral history committee and the public sculpture advisory panel. Commenting on the local art scene, Dr Wu alleges, “Singapore should not impose unnecessary restrictions on artistic groups. I wish that we could have a museum of modern art. Some day, I will donate my entire collection of art and sculptures to the museum. That would be my way of contributing back to society.”
Dr Wu is every bit the doting father to his four year old son, Wellington a.k.a. Ollie. While being interviewed, the doctor would oblige his son’s constant clamouring for caricatures of “Hawk Girl” and “Spider Man”. I have to add that the doctor can draw very fast and pretty well too. “Plastic surgery like all other art forms is really just about raw sex. It is true. Just pause and reflect on it. My work is very fulfilling. I am extremely lucky and blessed to wake up every day loving what I do. If I never was a plastic surgeon, I would have been an architect,” remarks the witty doctor.
On the subject of censorship, Dr Wu has very strong arguments. He affirms, “We are a confused nation. Singaporeans pride themselves on being modern but yet they are slow to embrace change. It is also totally absurd that we do not have intelligent programmes such as Sex and the City. The censorship board should give us more credit. How can we become a mature society if we are not accorded any freedom to express ourselves or to view artistic material?”
Dr Wu has empathy for transsexuals, homosexuals, etc. Like these outcasts, the charismatic doctor feels that he is also not appreciated here. “Singaporeans are simply too narrow-minded and they do not know how to laugh at themselves. They cannot accept anything out of the ordinary. Minority groups really cannot help the way they are born. These minorities actually add colour and spice to the fabric of our society. Everyone has a degree of abnormality. All of us cannot be built the same way. Life would be so boring if we were. Thus, it is abnormal to be normal. We have to teach our kids to appreciate the variability of life and human nature,” asserts a sympathetic Dr Wu.
Inventive Dr Wu has created the ultimate face-lift. Hailed by the medical community as the first significant advancement in face-lift surgery, the Woffles Lift is the ideal face-lift for men. There are absolutely no scars as it is a non-surgical procedure. This patented innovation was also recently featured in the New York Times and US edition of Elle.
The technique involves the insertion of a specially designed self-retaining barbed thread that works as a sling, via an injection needle into the sagging soft tissues of the face and neck. The threads are then pulled to elevate the tissues. This tightening action also causes the stimulation of collagen production, which forms a fibrous sheath around the implanted threads that adds to the density of the soft tissue matrix.
The end result is a more youthful and rejuvenated three-dimensional appearance without the risks or side effects.
Recovery is speedy and patients can return to work within a matter of hours.
Dr Wu is the only Asian surgeon being featured in a book about the top 30 cosmetic surgeons in the world. The book is due to hit the bookstores in August. Speaking of books, Dr Wu is currently working on writing his own publication on non-surgical facial rejuvenation. This project ties in with his development of a special non-peeling technique for rejuvenating facial skin with the use of organic ingredients.
I was pleasantly surprised by the simple private life that the doctor and his family lead. On that note, Dr Wu tells me, “People often ask me what my success formula is. There is no formula, but pure hard work and integrity. The public has the misconception that I lead a very glamorous lifestyle. Little do they know that I work late almost every night writing papers and dreaming up new techniques.”
Although this may sound a little like a clichéd William Hung statement, the doctor’s motto in life is, “Believe 100% in who you are. Always do your very best and you will achieve great things. One should still remain humble despite great success.