A Canadian researcher says he’s developed a cream that can replace laser tattoo removal surgeries.
Image via Wikimedia Commons.
Whether it was the result of a drunken night in Vegas or a souvenir from a traumatic prison stint, tattoos are difficult, expensive, and painful to remove. And while some people choose to tattoo new images over their old tattoos, sometimes tattoos evoke distressing memories they’d much rather have erased from their body entirely. One Canadian student might have developed a cream that would make the entire process a lot easier and a lot less costly.
Alec Falkenham, a researcher and Ph.D. student at Dalhousie University, says his topical ointment will remove tattoos from your body by targetting the cells that retain ink. The cells are called “macrophages” and they remain rooted right beneath the skin. The Bisphosphonate Liposomal Tattoo Removal (BLTR) cream releases liposomes into the skin that then inject cells with a drug that “kills off” the macrophages.
"When comparing it to laser-based tattoo removal, in which you see the burns, the scarring, the blisters, in this case, we've designed a drug that doesn't really have much off-target effect," he told the CBC. "We're not targeting any of the normal skin cells, so you won't see a lot of inflammation. In fact, based on the process that we're actually using, we don't think there will be any inflammation at all and it would actually be anti-inflammatory."
The tattoo removal business grows every year as people who got tattoos decades ago start to realize that their Dawson’s Creek ink doesn’t have quite the same culture relevance as it did in 1999. While laser therapy can cost thousands of dollars, the CBC reports that Falkenham’s cream will cost about $4.50 Canadian per treatment for a 10 by 10 centimeter image. He’s currently testing the formula on tattooed pig ears.