They come in a vast array of shapes, sizes and colors but all tattoos, no matter how unique or personal, share one quality – they’re forever. Well, almost forever.

Canadian Ph.D. student Alec Falkenham has come up with a way to make unwanted ink vanish.

Falkenham, who is studying for his doctoral degree in pathology at Dalhousie University, claims he is developing an ointment that will remove tattoos painlessly over a period of time, according to reporting from the New York Daily News. The ointment is designed to target ink embedded in the skin and dissolve it.

In recent years the tattoo removal process has been drastically improved, allowing unsatisfied people to have their unwanted ink removed through the use of lasers, some of which can remove layers of skin in picoseconds – just a trillionth of second. Chemical solutions can also be used, but both techniques can be costly and painful.

Tattoos are often an individualistic expression, and many people have no qualms about what they have chosen to ink on their bodies. However, for people who are no longer fond of their tattoos, the removal options are limited.

On average, a tattoo laser removal session can cost between $100 and $300 depending on the area where the procedure takes place. The number of treatments needed varies, but the size of the tattoo and the depth of the ink in the skin are two determining factors.

Falkenham said his product would be less expensive to purchase, according to reporting from the Canadian Press and will be sold for 4.5 cents per square centimeter.

Twenty-one percent of all U.S. adults have at least one tattoo, according to a 2012 survey conducted by Harris Interactive, a leading market research firm, and although the survey also shows that 86 percent of adults do not regret getting a tattoo, many still feel trapped by their tattoo choice.

PSUC Janelle Holder said that although she does not have any tattoos herself, she knows people, including her mother, who she believes would benefit from Falkenham’s invention.

“It’s a good thing,” Holder said. “People have to pay a lot for removal.”

PSUC student Rebecca Sanders-Eachus, who got her first tattoo at the age of 15, and currently has nine tattoos in total said she doesn’t regret any of her tattoo decisions, but believes the cream would be a positive influence in the tattoo industry, saying the removal cream would be a “good thing to have.” Of her nine tattoos, Sanders-Eachus has had alterations made to one, though no laser was used.

Despite the benefits this product could provide for people seeking an alternative to the painful laser removal treatment, others in the tattoo business are skeptical about the claims Falkenham has made about the product he is developing.

Benjamin Barreto, a tattoo artist at Body Art Tattoo in Plattsburgh, said he has heard these type of products talked about by customers, but he hasn’t seen the results these products advertise. However, if Falkenham is successful, Barreto said he believes it would be beneficial alternative solution for people who are unwilling to undergo laser treatment.

“A lot of people don’t like the process,” he said. “It’s kind of hard; it’s always something negative.”

Falkenham’s removal ointment is still in the development stages, and specific details have not yet been released as the product has only been tested on rats.

Email Thomas Marble at thomas.marble@cardinal pointsonline.com

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