How to remove a tattoo in Singapore
We all make mistakes when we’re young. For some, it’s drinking one too many shots at a bar or choosing the wrong course at university. For others – i.e., me – it’s getting a tattoo that you will come to regret 10 years later. Said tattoo happens to be on the inside of my left wrist, which means I am forced to confront the folly of my youth daily.
But while some mistakes are irreversible, tattoos are not. So when the chance came up to undergo tattoo removal at Sozo Aesthetic Clinic, I was more than happy to volunteer as tribute.
Pico Laser tattoo removal at Sozo Aesthetic Clinic
The first step of your tattoo removal journey is a consultation with Dr Justin Boey, medical director at Sozo Aesthetic Clinic. This is when he will answer all your burning questions, as well as advise on the number of sessions you will need, how much of your tattoo can be removed, and the possibility of scarring.
This is what regret looks like
There are many factors to take into consideration, such as the age, colour and placement of your tattoo, and whether you’ve had laser removal performed on the tattoo. The longer the tatt has been on your body, for example, the less ink there is and the easier it will be to remove. Black ink is also easier to treat, while colours like yellow and blue are more stubborn and resistant to removal.
What is pico laser tattoo removal?
Another factor that can impact the tattoo removal result is the type of laser used.
Sozo Aesthetic Clinic uses Lutronic PicoPlus, which is a pico laser. A pico laser is one of the most advanced and powerful tattoo removal lasers for tattoo removal.
To explain pico lasers to regular ol’ me, Dr Boey employed the apt analogy of cooking a steak: just like how you pan sear steak quickly in high heat, pico lasers ensure maximum energy delivery on the targeted area without the rest of the skin becoming “charred”.
The high powered laser beams shatter the tattoo ink particles, while ultra-short pulses ensure less damage to the surrounding skin around the tattoo. This allows for more effective results with fewer treatment sessions required.
According to Dr Boey, the use of pico lasers for tattoo removal means you can expect 80 to 90% improvement over 5 to 10 tattoo removal sessions. The most dramatic improvements can usually be seen in the first few sessions, with some of his patients experiencing up to 40 to 50% improvement after one session. Individual results may vary.
As such, at least 5 to 10 sessions – each spaced one month apart so as to allow the skin to heal – is the most optimum number of tattoo removal sessions. After that, diminishing returns kicks in and your tattoo removal process will likely reach a plateau. You can find out more about the differences in using pico laser compared to other lasers for tattoo removal here.
How painful is pico laser tattoo removal?
Even if you don’t have a tattoo, you’ve probably heard that getting a tattoo removed is excruciatingly painful. Addressing the elephant in the room, I asked Dr Boey, “How much is this going to hurt?” He reassured me that the pain level is similar to that of getting a tattoo, multiplied by the number of tattoo removal sessions.
This should be good news to those of us looking to remove a tattoo, since we clearly managed to survive the pain of getting it in the first place. Of course, pain is subjective and everyone has different levels of pain tolerance. But if you’re one of those who found the tattoo process unbearable, it might help to think of it as “no pain, no gain”.
Applying a layer of numbing cream over the tattoo
Post-consultation, you will be led to another room, where the staff will apply a layer of numbing cream over the tattoo to be removed. The area will then be wrapped in a plastic film for 15 minutes.
On top of the numbing cream, there are other techniques that can be applied to minimise discomfort, including icing, nerve blocks, or a cooler used during the laser treatment.
How is the tattoo removed?
The laser removal will take place in a separate room, using the Lutronic PicoPlus machine.
Dr Boey passed me a pair of safety goggles to protect my eyes. It was time for the deed to be done. As the laser beam came into contact with my skin, I felt a short, sharp, prickling sensation akin to a rubber band slapping my skin. The step was then repeated multiple times, over my entire tattoo.
Not gonna lie, it hurt. The affected area also started swelling almost immediately. But thanks to the numbing cream, the pain was bearable. It was like Dr Boey had said: The process felt similar to getting a tattoo, albeit slightly more painful.
The entire laser removal process usually takes about 15 minutes – before I knew it, my first tattoo removal session was over.
What should you expect after tattoo removal?
The staff will apply a recovery cream over the affected area and pass you a small tub of antibiotic cream to bring home so that you can apply it over the next 3 days, in the morning and at night.
Since tattoo removal essentially creates an open wound, aftercare is critical to ensure a smooth recovery process with minimal potential scarring. The downtime for each session is about 3 to 7 days of skin redness and mild scabbing. Sun protection is crucial over this period.
Personally, besides the swelling, which took about 2 days to go down, I didn’t experience any discomfort. And while there has been no scarring so far, tattoo removal does involve the risk of scarring and residual pigmentation changes like hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation.
If you have darker skin, colourful tattoos or large tattoos, you may be more susceptible to these side effects.
Cost of Pico Laser tattoo removal at Sozo Aesthetic Clinic
The price of a pico laser tattoo removal session at Sozo Aesthetic Clinic starts from $50 for small tattoos. Because every tattoo is unique and everyone’s skin is different, you will first need to book a consultation to receive a customised solution.
After that, it’s goodbye to your bad decision from 10 years ago and hello to a blank slate.
Address: 1 Raffles Place, #05-12/13, Singapore 048616
Opening hours: Mon – Fri 10AM-8PM | Sat 10AM-3PM (Closed on Sundays)
Telephone: 6935 1811
WhatsApp: 9610 5102
This post was brought to you by Sozo Aesthetic Clinic.
Photography by Nadia Loewito.