Getting Rid Of That Tribal Tattoo Might Get Way Easier

Photographed by Rockie Nolan.
If you're regretting that spring break-inspired dolphin ankle tat, you don't have too many options at this point — it's basically between "keep it and wear socks at the beach" or "pay thousands of dollars to maybe get it removed." But, there's a new choice on the horizon, reports Gizmodo.

Alec Falkenham, a researcher at Dalhousie University in Halifax, says he's created a cream that can remove tattoos painlessly. So far, his lab has found it works successfully on pig skin by taking advantage of the body's natural healing processes.  

Getting a tattoo sets off a series of immune responses. Your body sends macrophage cells to try to clean up the ink particles. Some of the macrophages make their way back to your lymph nodes carrying the dye with them, but others are left behind in the skin. Normally, during laser tattoo removal, the laser breaks up the ink particles so they're small enough to be carried away. But, this doesn't always work as advertised and can be pretty painful and expensive.

The new cream (called Bisphosphonate Liposomal Tattoo Removal) capitalizes on that same biological process by encouraging new macrophages to head to the tattoo site. When they come by to take the cream's liposomes away, they take the leftover ink particles with them. Since it's only been tested on pigs so far, don't go on promising Grandma that your ink is as good as gone just yet — there's no word on when it will be commercially available for tattooed humans.  

Also, Falkenham says he doesn't know how many applications it would take to be fully rid of those dolphins. So, if you've already gone through the pain of getting a tattoo, you might as well put up with the pain of getting rid of it with lasers, too. For now.

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