Just as the number of Americans sporting tattoos has soared in the past decade, so has the number of people who want their bodywork removed. Soon there may be a solution to the phenomenon of tattoo regret—tattoo ink that can be removed by a single laser treatment.

According to Freedom-2, a New York City-based company that makes the removable ink, the technology will not only simplify tattoo removal, it will create an expanded market for body art, because consumers can be assured that the tattoo will come off easily and without exorbitant cost.

“I think it will open a floodgate for people who want tattoos,” says Bruce Saal, MD, a Los Gatos, Calif, dermatologist who specializes in laser tattoo removal.  “People will say, ‘I want to do something a little wild. Now that I know it’s not a lifelong commitment, I’ll do it.’”

The company says the ink is removable because it is encapsulated in tiny beads made of poly(methyl methacrylate), a synthetic material commonly used in surgical glue and in many types of artificial joints. The fact that the ink is encased in the tiny spheres does not affect the application of the tattoo or its appearance.

Unpublished tests on humans and animals show that only one laser treatment is typically needed to fully remove a Freedom-2 tattoo and that most Q-switched lasers that physicians use for tattoo removal can be used for the job.

The company says it will sell only black ink initially, but will eventually add other colors. The ink is slightly more expensive than conventional ink and will likely add about $50 to the average cost of a tattoo.

[www.latimes.com, December 11, 2006]