Tattoos are, supposedly, permanent. That is, after all, the entire appeal. If you’ve decided that your back piece of Link and Sonic in a passionate embrace was a bad idea, your options aren’t great. Getting your skin blasted with a laser can trigger allergic reactions and scar or discolor the skin. So a Canadian graduate student decided to come up with a better solution: a tattoo removal cream.
Such creams already exist, but they work by, uh, peeling off your skin. Alec Falkenham’s cream, on the other hand, removes them by attacking them at the source.
Here’s how tattoos work: As the ink is injected into your skin, your body’s immune system attacks it with macrophages, little Pac-Man-like creatures that eat things that aren’t supposed to be in your body and then go to the lymph nodes to be flushed. Some of them eat too much ink, though, and get stranded in your skin, forming your tattoo.
Falkenham’s cream just starts the process all over again. It brings in new macrophages to eat those ink-filled little guys and flush it down the lymph nodes. The tattoo just fades away until it was never there. Best of all, it’s cheap. Falkenham’s got treatment down to $4.50 per application over a 4″ by 4″ square of skin.
Falkenham’s currently working on patenting the technique, but with more and more terrible tattoos, you’ll see this on drugstore shelves sooner rather than later. In the meantime, Falkenham can focus on his doctoral project, which uses the same basic technique to keep scar tissue from building up in the heart. Perhaps we can use some of that tattoo removal money to give him a better lab for that one? That seems like something we want to fast-track.