Alec Falkenham, a PhD student at Dalhousie University, is developing a tattoo removal cream that could provide a cheaper, less painful alternative to the laser.

PhD Student Developing A Tattoo Removal Cream

Tattoo removal is a multi-million dollar industry, but it is also a pain-filled one. Usually involving lasers, tattoo removal can cost a pretty penny, and is widely known for leaving scars. Falkenham, however, may soon change that with his new product.

Falkenham, 27, is a PhD student in Pathology, who is working on developing a cream that would fade tattoos using Bisphosphonate Liposomal Tattoo Removal (BLTR).

BLTR essentially targets white blood cells called “macrophages,” which absorb tattoo ink into the skin. Over time, macrophages that absorb the ink are constantly being replaced by new ones, causing tattoos to fade. BLTR speeds up the process by removing macrophage cells that have absorbed the pigment of the tattoo and replacing them at a quicker rate.

“When new macrophages come to remove the liposome from cells that once contained pigment, they also take the pigment with them to the lymph nodes, resulting in a fading tattoo,” Falkenham explained.

Cream vs. Laser

What separates from other methods of tattoo removal is that the BLTR would, in theory, target the pigmented cells without also harming the surrounding skin cells. Furthermore, the cream would ideally cost a mere $5 dollars per treatment to cover a 4×4-inch area.

“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,” Falkenham told reporters.

Falkenham is currently still in the research phase, so the product has not yet been tested on humans. Falkenham himself has four tattoos, but he says he doesn’t regret any of them – at least not yet.

“This idea started when I got my first tattoo and I was thinking of the tattoo process from an immune point of view. Since then, I have added three more and currently don’t regret any of them – but that’s probably a reflection on me waiting until I was older,” Falkenham said.

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