Dr Woffles Wu is a fully trained Pediatric Cleft and Craniofacial Surgeon with over 30 years experience performing cleft lip and palate surgery. He joined the Department of Plastic Surgery at the Singapore General Hospital as a Medical Officer in 1987 before commencing his plastic surgery residency in 1989.
For 3 years Dr Wu was the apprentice and assistant to Prof ST Lee, a world recognised Cleft Lip and Palate surgeon, where he learnt the intricacies and refinements of this challenging field of pediatric plastic surgery. In 1993, Dr Wu underwent a 15 month Craniofacial Fellowship with Dr Anthony Holmes at the Royal Childrens Hospital RCH in Melbourne Australia where he learnt how to perform complex craniofacial and maxillofacial procedures such as skull reshaping, correction of Orbital Hypertelorism, Menigoencephalocele, Maxillary advancements and Mandibular setbacks.
After his return to Singapore in 1994, Dr Wu performed the first Fronto-Orbital Advancement procedure on a 6 week old baby with a severe birth deformity of the skull called a Clover Leaf Craniosynostosis. That child has now completed his university education. This was one of the stories in his 2018 book of memoirs, Life in Plastic.
Although in private practice for 20 years, Dr Wu retains his passion for cleft lip and palate surgery and continues to operate on primary and secondary cases. He specialises in performing Rhinoplasties and Lip revisions in patients with residual deformities or asymmetries who have now achieved adulthood.
He has performed and demonstrated cleft lip surgery operations in Indonesia, Timor, Myanmar and China.
He is currently the Honorary Head of the Dept of Plastic Surgery at the Zhejiang Provincial People’s Hospital in Hangzhou, China and volunteers his time to the annual Hainan Smile Cleft Lip and Palate Program.
Dr Wu: Cleft lip and palate surgery is my specialty and passion. I would be happy doing only this for the rest of my career. It is a powerful and rewarding operation which has lifelong impact on the affected child, it’s parents and family and even the community to which they belong.
It is not just about performing one solitary operation but rather a series of complex operations, carefully staged throughout the growing years of that affected child, until he or she has reached adulthood.
The cleft lip surgery of which there are many styles and techniques, is performed when the child is between 3-6 months old. This aids in the child’s ability to feed properly and allows the child to look normal. This is very gratifying for the family members.
When the child is between 9 months to one year old, the palate is repaired which also helps to make feeding more efficient and importantly prepares the child for learning how to speak.
At 7-8 years old, an Alveolar Bone graft is performed where the gap in the alveolar (teeth bearing) bone is filled with bone grafts to make the alveolar ridge complete. This is very important for the proper alignment of the soon-to-be erupting adult teeth. The bone graft is usually taken from the hip.
When the child is 16-17 years old, after most facial growth has stopped, they are evaluated to see whether they need repositioning of their upper and lower jaws. Various combinations that involve Maxillary advancements or lengthening, Mandibular setbacks or shortening and Chin advancement genioplasty.
As the child turns 21, they may need a straighteing procedure of the nose and realignment or enhamcement of the maxillo-nasal bones. They may also need a lip revision to improve lip shape and projection.
As you can see, the cleft lip surgeon’s involvement with their patients is lifelong.