It was meant to be forever, but forever seems to be too long when it comes to a regretful tattoo decision. A recent study from the Society for Consumer Research in Germany (GfK) points to 700.000 unhappy Germans, who either don’t like their tattoos anymore, or are unsatisfied with their choice of tattooist.
But what now? Are there options to remove a tattoo besides the painful and expensive laser treatments? According to Alec Falkenham, a PhD Student at Dalhousie University in Canada, yes there is.
When Alec was getting his first tattoo, he was already thinking of ways to remove it: “No regrets about getting inked, but as a scientist I was very interested in how a tattoo worked”
The PhD student in pathology saw a connection between his work researches and the tattooing process, realising he could use the same connection from his work on heart cells to target cells containing tattoo pigment.
Falkenham has developed a topical cream that could eventually remove tattoos from people’s skin. The method, which he calls Bisphosphonate Liposomal tattoo removal, is still in the research stages. If it works, this could become an alternative to the current options.
“You are destroying the skin in the process of all the other techniques I have seen so far – said Alec – What we’re trying to do is stay away from actually destroying the skin while removing the tattoo”.
His Tattoo Removal Cream allows a drug to penetrate the skin and kill cells that hold tattoo pigment while leaving the surrounding cells untouched. This should work very different from the laser removal process, which heats the pigment and can cause cell ruptures, and even lead to blisters and scarring.
But scarring is not always to be expected with laser tattoo removal, as states Marina Munroe, a certified practitioner from Clean Canvas Tattoo Removal, who performs laser treatments on a daily basis in Halifax, CAN.
“It’s definitely a partnership when you remove someone’s tattoo,” Munroe said. “Not only does the session have to be done correctly, but the person has to take care of it.”
The costs for laser removal treatment are still high thou. Munroe charges the equivalent of €70 per square centimetre for one session. In the most cases, a client needs between 4 and 6 session, with effectiveness depending on the state of the tattoo.
The Topical Cream Alec Falkenham is developing costs about 4.5 cents per square centimetre for each treatment. However there is still a lot of research before he can estimate how many treatments would be necessary to fully remove a tattoo.
One in six Germans has at least one tattoo, and is not happy with it, according to the Consumer Research Institute (GfK). In Canada, where Falkenham is conducting his research, one tenth of the population is tattooed and regret it.
“We obviously have a lot of interest. I often hear from people asking if they can be a guinea pig” said Alec Falkenham laughing.
He and his research team are working hard to bring the product to the consumers but there are still no dates to a commercial release.
And how about you? Are you happy with your tattoos? Would you try Alec’s removal cream? Write us your opinion below.