When Daniel was 12, his father disappeared and was never seen again. His mother was addicted to drugs, frequently in and out of rehabilitation centres. Daniel often found himself placed under the care of his grandmother.
By age 17, he had dropped out of school and joined a gang, following the footsteps of his peers. His body was marked with scars and gang tattoos.
“I thought I was cool,” he said. “I would get into fights over the slightest things, like a stare or casual bump.”
It was after a skirmish with rival gang members that Daniel finally started thinking about the consequences of his ways.
“It was over territorial disputes,” he recalled. “I was surrounded and beaten up real bad.”
Daniel suffered multiple fractures to his face, back and arms after being viciously assaulted by a group of six. His fellow gang member took flight knowing they were outnumbered.
During his month long stay in the hospital, Daniel knew then he no longer wanted to lead life as a hooligan. He had a three digit gang tattoo inked on his back, together with a dragon and tiger symbolizing ferocity and honour.
November 2016, Daniel got his tattoos removed while serving his term.
“It felt great,” said the now 32 year old. “It felt like I can finally start afresh and part ways with my life of old.”
Daniel got his tattoos removed for free as part of the Singapore Yellow Ribbon Project. The initiative aims at engaging the community in giving inmates a second chance in life and helping them assimilate into society.
Dr Elias Tam of EHA Clinic, one of the volunteer doctors who has been with the Yellow Ribbon Project for over five years, said of the initiative, “It’s always good to give inmates the option to remove tattoos for free, they get to decide again whether the tattoos are right for them without worrying about costs.”
“It’s also a good way to reach out to them.”
Picture: Dr Elias Tam of EHA Clinic, one of the volunteer doctors who has been with the Yellow Ribbon Project for over five years.
“Many come to us not just for practical reasons like passing job interviews once they back into society, sometimes it’s simply to mark the end of an unpleasant past,” continued the prominent aesthetic doctor.
The onset of more advanced technologies has also allowed for a less painful and quick experience.
Removing of tattoos and scars used to a long and arduous process, often with the patient enduring gruelling hours of pain, with significant risks of scarring.
“Greater laser technologies have also made the option seem more appealing,” said Dr Elias. “No longer are people as afraid of scarring, pain or side effects.”
He was referring to Discovery Pico, a recent breakthrough technology in the areas of laser treatment. Traditionally hard to treat scars and tattoos are now easier and faster to remove, with greater stability in the process as compared to past treatments.
Potential harmful effects on the skin are also dramatically reduced because of new laser techniques.
For people like Daniel, the development was very much welcomed.
“For many of us thinking about going for such treatments, the concerns are often regarding costs, scarring and skin damage,” he said. “With the support from the Yellow Ribbon Project and better treatment options, it doesn’t seem like such an intimidating prospect anymore.”
Dr Elias is also working on bringing Discovery Pico to greater masses of the public. Not just for tattoo and scarring removal purposes, the technology may also be used for common skin problems like discoloration and pigmentation.
“It is important to better inform the public about the benefits of such technologies,” he said. “Many people often delay treatment due to misinformation, choosing instead to live with their conditions.”
“There are actually solutions that could improve their quality of life.”
Picture: EHA Clinic.
Company Name: EHA Clinic
Contact Person: Kristen Chen