Faster tattoo cover-ups are on their way! Scientists have discovered a cream that fades tattoo ink.

Faster tattoo cover-ups are on their way! Scientists have discovered a cream that fades tattoo ink.

Image source: Canada Journal

Want to turn an old tattoo into something bigger, bolder and more beautiful? If your existing tattoo is large or colourful, covering it up can get complicated. Sometimes, it’s easier to get it removed and start again.

Tattoo laser removal, though effective, can be painful. It generally requires a number of sessions – and takes dedication to see it through to the finish. However, one scientist believes he’s found the perfect alternative – a way to remove the ink from your body far more easily, leaving your skin fresh for your next tattoo.

Tattoo Removal Cream?

Alec Falkenham is a Canadian PhD student in the pathology department of Dalhousie University in Halifax, and he thinks that he may have found the answer to some people’s prayers – a tattoo removal cream.

Falkenham says that his tattoo removal cream can easily, cheaply, and painlessly remove unwanted tattoos, and he recently sold his invention to Cipher Pharmaceuticals, a dermatological pharmacy company, for an unknown amount of money. If Falkenham is right about his cream creation, and if Cipher Pharmaceuticals can get it approved for public use, he may have just changed society’s relationship with tattoos forever.

Although there are already multiple tattoo removal creams on the market, none of them actually work or are regulated in any way. These unsuccessful creams target the top layer of skin by making use of abrasive chemicals – a painful process that does no good since tattoos lie within deeper layers of skin where the creams can’t reach them.

Traditional Issues with Removing Tattoos

Tattoos are difficult to remove due to the actual tattooing process. Tattoo machines pierce your skin with ink-filled needles many times over and inject coloured pigment. The body immediately reacts to this process and sends out special white blood cells called macrophages to heal the wound, which is what seals the ink into the skin and creates the permanency of the tattoo. The macrophages gather and “eat” some of the pigment from the tattoo ink, but some of the cells get “stuck” under the skin, and because they have already been processed by the macrophages, the body no longer considers them to be foreign material and it stops trying to get rid of them.

Up until now, the best way to remove tattoos has been with lasers, which blast the coloured pigments in the skin, breaking them up into smaller pieces which can be absorbed and processed by the immune system. Although the laser tattoo removal process has gotten better through years of trial and error, it is still a slow and expensive process which can still leave some parts of the tattoo in the skin, no matter how many laser sessions are done.

Effective Tattoo Removal

Falkenham’s cream is different. A chemical compound that he had been studying in his research for the healing of heart tissue, it was a fluke that the compound was used for tattoo removal. Falkenham just happen to wonder what would happen if you applied the cream to a tattoo one day. The active ingredient is called bisphosphonate liposomal, and it penetrates the skin and targets the specific white blood cells that are involved in the process that makes tattoos permanent, while it leaves other blood cells alone.

So far, the tattoo removal cream hasn’t undergone any human testing, but based on the results that have been seen in the laboratory with pigs and mice, Falkenham feels confident that it can bring about complete tattoo removal in as little as a week, and for as little cost as $4.50 for a 3-inch square area of tattooed skin. He believes that this will put an end to the laser tattoo removal business, and change the way that society views tattoos completely!

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