Aesthetic Reconstructive Jaw Surgery and Dental Implants Blog

Medical tourism for corrective jaw surgery in Singapore


Singapore has a long history as a medical tourism destination. The high standard of healthcare, comparable to the best of America and Europe, has attracted many patients from Asia. Some of the most commonly sort after procedures by medical tourists are cardiology and oncology. Corrective jaw surgery is slowly increasing in demand as well. What is the process of a medical tourist seeking corrective jaw surgery in Singapore?

Dentofacial deformities present both functional and aesthetic challengesthat need to be treated. If the treatment objective is only functional correction, a lot of the planning can be prepared even before the patient arrives in Singapore. However, most patients seeking such treatment are primarily or at least equally motivated by the aesthetic enhancements. This is the subjective part of the treatment objective that needs a thorough discussion with the patient to understand her aesthetic preferences.

The initial contact..

For a patient residing in another country, the initial contact is usually through email. In the email, the patient describes her concern, what she would like to get done and ask for a rough estimate of costs. At this point, I can only describe in very general terms what jaw surgery entails and give an indication of the range of historical fees paid by patients in the past. Some will then proceed to provide some photos, which gives a slightly better idea of the deformity. Some may even email x-rays films. However, without a physical examination, no definite plan will be provided. The patient will have to make a trip to Singapore for a consultation before taking the next step. Absolute contraindications to surgery are usually highlighted, so that the patient does not waste a trip, e.g. if the patient is pre-puberty, or medically unfit for general anesthetic.


The first trip..

A diagnostic workup requires at least two sessions. As such, patients should plan for at least 3-5 days in Singapore. At the first visit, detail medical history, physical examination, photographs, radiographs, blood tests and dental records are taken. Using the records, a prediction planning using simulation soft ware is done. Sometimes, depending on what the patient’s concerns are, more than one plan is made. During the second visit a few days later, the simulated photo of the postoperative appearance is shown and discussed and the patient can comment on what she likes or does not like. From the feedback, changes can be made without the limits of the anatomy before finalizing the plan.

The plan may involve having the surgery first, followed by orthodontics one month after the surgery, or to undergo a period of pre-surgical orthodontics before surgery. For cases where surgery can be done first, a date for surgery is scheduled for about a month later. The operating room and anesthesiologist will be booked. The patient then returns to her country of residence while we make the necessary preparations for the surgery.


Orthodontics is needed for almost all cases of orthognathic surgery. The patient will decide on whether to have the orthodontic treatment done in Singapore or back in her home country. For the former, a referral will be made to an orthodontist and he will see the patient during this first trip. The challenge of having orthodontic treatment as a medical tourist is the high frequency of visits over a year or two. As such, some patients opt for orthodontics to be done back home. We will contact her orthodontist for a discussion either on the phone or through email to ensure that the orthodontist is in agreement with the plan before any surgery is done.

Preparation for the surgery

To prepare for the surgery, the surgical plan is tried out on dental casts mounted on articulators. The movement of the segmentalized jaw bone which is determined by the computer simulation is replicated onto the models in the laboratory. The purpose is to create localizations splints to fix the jaw to the position planned in simulation.


The second trip..

One month later, the patient returns two days before the scheduled date of surgery. On the day before the surgery, we have a final recap of the surgery, the risks and complications and the patient signs the consent for surgery. Corrective jaw surgery typically takes about 3 hours for a single jaw and 5 hours for a double jaw operation. Most patients can be discharged from hospitalafter one to two days but they need to stay in Singapore for about one week. Thereafter, most patients can return to their home country and come back for a review one month later.


The third trip..

On the third trip, which is about one month after the surgery, most of the swelling would have subsided and the patient will be able to eat fairly normally. An appointment will be made for the patient to commence post-surgical orthodontics.


Upon completion of orthodontic treatment, the patient returns for a post treatment assessment. A set of post-treatment records is taken during the visit. One year later, another trip is made for an assessment of the stability of the results by comparing with the immediate post-treatment records.


Corrective jaw surgery is a suitable procedure for medical tourism as there are limited variables and the sequence of treatment can be planned electively. These patients are also generally fit and healthy and do not pose any surgical or anesthetic risks. There is however, a need for multiple trips to ensure a proper diagnosis and that the treatment objective is indeed what the patient is seeking.

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