Remember that Saturday Night Live skit, "Turlington's Lower Back Tattoo Removal Cream," where Amy Poehler slathers on a few ounces of sleazy Dr. Turlington's concoction, and watches her tattoo burn away as she screams in agony? Well, if you're a new mom who regrets getting that tattoo in Cabo of Spring Break '99, then you may be in luck, sans the pain.
Canadian PhD student, Alec Falkenham (27), is in developments at Dalhousie University for a topical cream that will aide in the removal of tattoos. It will cut the cost, pain, and overall time it takes to get a tattoo removed.
“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,” says Falkenham in a CBC News interview.
Currently, Falkenham is testing his cream on the tattooed ears of pigs and he says his formula is working quite well, especially on ink over two years old. The cream attacks the pigment of the tattoos using a technology he calls, Bisphosphonate Liposomal Tattoo Removal.
As most of us know, tattoos are created by imbedding ink into the deep layers of our skin. What most of us did not know is that white blood cells called macrophages are sent to clean up this intruder, but most fail in this mission; and they're left saying, "Hey, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em," and they take on the intrusive pigment, creating what we see as our new, totally awesome body art.
Falkenham's cream sends in new macrophages who finish the cleanup job that those earlier cells basically failed to do. “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 adds.
Falkenham estimates the elimination of a four inch by four inch tattoo using his formula to be only $4.50. A huge savings compared to laser-removal.
And so, bio-engineering makes its way into the hearts of all those middle-aged Lindsey Lohans who have finally seen the error in their ways...