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Mon, May 02, 2011
The New Paper
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'They think I’ve betrayed them'
by Germaine Lim


These are just some names that have been hurled at local singer Maia Lee since she revealed her intention to remove the 30 tattoos on her body.

The 27-year-old former Singapore Idol finalist said she has become "a public enemy in the tattoo community".

On Wednesday afternoon, she had her first round of laser treatments to remove a black gecko tattoo on her left hand and a black treble clef on her right index finger.

Lee said she learnt about the name-calling from her tattoo artists, who told her the remarks their friends had been passing about her.

"(They think) I'm turning my back on them. I'm not. "I'm not putting tattoos down. I just don't want them on me any more.

"This doesn't mean I'm betraying anyone," she told TNP.

In February, she had lamented about how her heavily-inked body had jeopardised her acting career and her chances of meeting "decent guys".

Lee is managed by film production company Kelvin Sng Productions.

Local aesthetics doctor Elias Tam, 42, is helping the single mother of two with this arduous task. They met on the Channel 5 infotainment series Tab TV in 2007 when they were invited to discuss tattoos.

Dr Tam sent her a Facebook message after reading the TNP article as he was intrigued by Lee's change.

He recalled: "On the show, she said other people's impression of her did not bother her. With time and maturity, it's interesting to note that she's realised they do matter to her."Treatment cost Dr Tam, who has been removing tattoos for 12 years, and her manager Mr Kelvin Sng, 36, declined to comment on the cost of Lee's treatment.

But Mr Sng had previously told TNP that the company would "partially finance" her tattoo removal sessions.

Dr Tam would say only that his clinic EHA Clinic charges $400 to remove a palm-size tattoo.

During the 10-minute session to remove her first two tattoos, Lee's skin was numbed with anaesthetic cream and an ice pack before going under the laser beam.

Lee, who said a short prayer beforehand, described the process as being "definitely more painful than getting a tattoo".

She added: "It's like a penknife stabbing your skin repeatedly and rapidly."

In two weeks, he will treat an eagle tattoo under Lee's right ear and a dragon on her back. Dr Tam said Lee's treatment may take at least three years to complete because of the number of tattoos involved and the amount of colour used.

Sometimes, some of the pigments may not be completely removed, so there may be a faint residual. Keloidal scars may also occur.

But Lee said she would "rather carry the scars than the tattoos".

She caught a glimpse of a future without ink in her upcoming local film Fairytales, in which she plays a teacher.

To look the part, Lee's tattoos were concealed with thick make-up and hidden under her clothes. She said: "I think my life will definitely change because of the kind of people I attract and who will bother to know and talk to me (before judging)."

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This article was first published in The New Paper.

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