PhD Student Develops a Cream to Erase Tattoos Cheaply

Alex Falkenham could revolutionize the tattoo-removal market with his new cream-based system. [Image Source: Dal News]

by Buddy Nievera |

Ever wondered if that ex-girlfriend’s or ex-boyfriend’s name tattooed on you arm can still be erased without a costly laser treatment?

Or that no-longer-cool 80’s video game logo seemingly forever etched on your sagging chest that really needs to be replaced with something else?

Canadian PhD student in pathology, Alec Falkenham, at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, has developed a technique that can do just what many need right now — no lasers.

Falkenham’s technique — Bisphosphonate Liposomal Tattoo Removal — uses a cream that specifically involves use of the body’s own defenses to sort of “eat-up” the ink.

He’s not anti-tattoo; in fact, he has four and is keeping them all.

“This idea started when I got my first tattoo and I was thinking of the tattoo process from an immune point of view,” Falkenham said in a news release.

Working with Dalhousie University’s Industry Liaison and Innovation office, Falkenham is the process of patenting the technology and getting more funding to continue his research.

Dalhousie University
Dalhousie University

In his news release, Falkenham detailed:

Macrophages, a type of white blood cells, eat up tattoo ink pigments. These white blood cells attack the ink pigment to protect the surrounding tissue from it, being a foreign substance. Those cells form the visible tattoo. When the macrophages are eventually replaced by new ones, the tattoos also eventually fade.

Another group of macrophages moves some of the pigment to lymph nodes that remove it from the area.

What Falkenham’s cream does is to use the body’s natural immune system to erase the ink pigments, thus, speeding up the natural fading process.

Still under animal testing, the cream might be an answer to the costly laser procedure that may cause skin damage.

An IBIS World report mentions the tattoo removal market in the U.S. alone at roughly US$ 75.4M last year.