The Grapevine

Student Alex Falkenham Creates Tattoo Removal Cream That Fades Body Art For As Little As A Dollar Per Square Inch

tattoowoman
Tattoo removal services may soon become both cheap and relatively painless. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Removing a tattoo is more difficult, more expensive, and arguably more painful than actually getting one, but a 27-year-old Canadian student, Alex Falkenham, plans to change all this. The PhD student has created a topical cream that can easily and painlessly remove tattoos for a jaw-dropping low cost.

Tattoos work by depositing ink into the deepest layer of skin, the dermis, with a needle, Dr. Claudia Aguirre, an LA neuroscientist explained in a recent TedTalk on the subject explained. While you may think of your tattoo as a work of art, your body views it as an intruder who needs to be eliminated.

The immune system sends out special cells called macrophages to “clean up” the infection (i.e. your new tattoo). They aborb the ink and transport it to the lymph nodes, where both the cells and the ink they contain are permanently eliminated. Unfortunately, not all of the macrophages are able to make it to the lymphatic system. These ink-soaked cells remain lodged in the dermis. Although the ink may fade slowly over time, for the most part it’s permanent.

Knowing this, Falkenham came up with an ingenious idea: help to introduce new macrophages to finish off the job. His cream promotes new macrophages to come and finish the job by clearing away the remaining ink. Extreme Tech reported that after enough application the cream should help to clear away most of the ink from the original tattoo, causing far less pain and residual scarring than laser tattoo treatment.

“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,” Falkenham explained, The Mary Sue reported. “We’re not targeting any of the normal skin cells, so you won’t see a lot of inflammation.”

If you’re intrigued by this product, just wait until you hear the best part. According to BuzzFeed, to cover a 4 by 4-inch area would only cost around $4.50 per treatment, making Falkenham’s cream a truly extremely economical choice.

Falkenham believes his cream will work best on tattoos that are at least two years old, but so far it has only been tested on the tattooed ears of pigs. For now, Falkenham is still working on perfecting his solution and making it safe for human use. 

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