If you have a tattoo that you now regret but dread the pain and cost of removing it… you’re like many Americans. The number of people removing their tattoos has grown ten-fold as the number getting them has also increased.
That’s why a new cream for removing tattoos is so timely. It’s painless and cheap. Unfortunately, it’s still in the lab being tested on tattooed pig ears.
The idea behind the cream is to harness the body’s own defense system to rid the skin of ink. A tattoo is basically a controlled wound applied into the skin. Ink is deposited by needles beneath the epidermis where it’s engulfed by immune cells called macrophages.
One set of macrophages carries the ink to the lymph nodes to be removed from the body. Another set that ingested the ink moves deeper into the skin and becomes inactive.
These inactive macrophages are the reason you see the tattoo and they’re the cells targeted by the new cream called Bisphosphonate Liposomal Tattoo Removal or BLTR.
The cream contains liposomes, tiny fat balloons, that carry an active ingredient inside. Only ink-carrying macrophages take up these liposomes so that new macrophages that arrive to remove the liposomes also remove the inked macrophages.
The cream actually uses the body’s natural process of removing tattoos because over time, the ink macrophages die and are removed. That’s why tattoos fade over time. The cream just speeds up that process.
The projected cost of BLTR is about five dollars, much lower than the hundreds of dollars required for laser removal. The bonus is that the cream would be painless. The bad news is it’ll take years to see if the cream is safe and effective.