W.Y. Chung

Photo by Christina O’Connor

When undergoing radiation therapy for breast cancer, patients often have ink marks tattooed on their chest to serve as helpful indicators for doctors to treat the right areas. But, after treatment, these tattoos can be unwanted reminders of a difficult time.

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, director of InkOff.MD Dr. W.Y. Chung has decided to offer free tattoo removal for former breast cancer patients during October.

“It is something to give back to the community,” says Chung, who has been practicing medicine since 1997 and runs the Vein and Skin Center of Hawaii. “It is a painful reminder for some who have gone through treatments for breast cancer. Those who have survived, they still have that constant reminder that is tattooed on their chest.

“It is not a lot of ink, so I thought that we might as well just help the patients out and remove it for those who want to erase that painful memory,” he says.

He explains that the procedure will take only 1 to 5 minutes. Some patients may require more than one session – but all sessions will be free of charge.

“It is a quick treatment and it’s pretty much painless,” he says.

Minor swelling may occur, but side effects are generally minimal.

Chung opened the Vein and Skin Center of Hawaii in 2007 after spending a decade working in emergency medicine. When he launched the practice, it treated varicose veins and related complications. Over time, he found that the lasers used could serve a broader range of conditions. Chung now also treats skin pigments, scars, wrinkles and more. He created InkOff.MD to further expand his services. Tattoo removals at InkOff.MD are conducted with a laser called PicoSure – a new technology that he says allows doctors to better target areas and creates fewer complications for patients.

In the future, Chung hopes to have InkOff.MD participate in other community outreach initiatives. For one, he has been brainstorming how to reach out to job seekers who want a tattoo removed.

“We want to do something with those who are having a hard time getting into the workforce because of some of the tattoos that they may have,” he says.

In order to receive radiation tattoo removal, patients should be in remission; the markings could be useful for future treatments if the patient has a recurrence of cancer. This treatment typically would cost up to $300.

“Our goal is to completely remove any markings,” he says. “We would like to have patients be completely ink-free and not have that reminder anymore.

“It’s nice to meet these patients who have survived breast cancer and be able to offer them something that is more positive,” he says.

Appointments for radiation tattoo removal must be scheduled by Oct. 31. For more information, call 949-8346 or visit inkoffhawaii.com.