A researcher named Alec Falkenham at Dalhousie University in Halifax is developing a topical cream that he says will help fade tattoo ink.
He says that with the process the topical cream uses, there won't be any inflammation at all — in fact, tattoo removal will become anti-inflammatory.
"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," he told CBC News Canada.
Current tattoo removal processes often require multiple sessions, with a session running anywhere from $75 to hundreds of dollars.
Falkenham's topical cream works by targeting the macrophages that are filled with ink at the site of your tattoo. New macrophages move in to consume the ink-filled ones, and then migrate to the lymph nodes.
Macrophages are the white blood cells that gobble up cellular debris — like tattoo ink. With this topical cream, there is supposedly no injection, and no inflammation. This has led to questions on how effective it is compared to current laser removal options available.
"I'm curious to see how the cream penetrates and breaks down the particles. Current particle size is too big, so macrophages can't gobble it up, per say," says Dr. Nazanin Saedi, a researcher and director of Jefferson Laser Surgery and Cosmetic Dermatology. She is unaffiliated with Falkenham and has conducted studies on effective tattoo removal processes over the past several years.
Falkenham's working with his university to patent his technology and just secured funding to further develop his research, so we'll have to see for ourselves.