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How to make tattoos hurt less: Scientists make painless tattoos – study

Have you always wanted to get a tattoo but backed out because it seemed so painful? Have you ever sat in a tattoo parlor and endured unimaginable pain while a needle was repeatedly poked into your skin?

Tattoos are used in cosmetics and are also used in medicine. These tattoos can be used to cover up scars or communicate medical conditions without wearing a medical bracelet.

While tattoos are wanted and sometimes needed by people, the excruciating pain associated with the procedure keeps them from getting tattoos.

Are painless tattoos possible?

Mark Prausnitz, Regents Professor and J. Erskine Love Jr. Chair at the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, along with Song Li, a former Georgia Tech postdoctoral fellow, presented research in the iscience Magazine that proposes a solution to this problem. Research shows a painless, bloodless, and inexpensive method of delivering tattoos through skin patches using microscopic needles.

“We’ve miniaturized the needle so that it’s painless, but still effectively delivers the tattoo ink into the skin. Not only could this be a way to make medical tattoos more accessible, but also create new opportunities for cosmetic tattoos due to ease of administration.”

Markus Prausnitz

“We have miniaturized the needle in such a way that it is painless, but still effectively injects the tattoo ink into the skin,” says Prausnitz. “Not only could this be a way to make medical tattoos more accessible, but also create new opportunities for cosmetic tattoos due to ease of administration.”

A microneedle patch tattoo is held by inventor Mark Prausnitz. (Image credit: Georgia Tech)

While many cosmetic products are already using microneedling for anti-aging treatments, microneedling technology has not yet been applied to tattoos.

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“We saw this as an opportunity to leverage our work on microneedling technology to make tattooing more accessible. While some are willing to put up with the pain and time involved in getting a tattoo, we thought others might prefer a tattoo that’s easy to press onto the skin and doesn’t hurt,” explains Prausnitz.

How are the skin patches used to apply a tattoo made?

In order to print an intricate design, microneedles in the microneedle patch tattoos must be able to be arranged in a specific pattern. Once arranged in a specific pattern, each microneedle acts as a pixel, allowing it to create any tattoo image.

Researchers begin by placing microneedles in a mold. They shape the shape into a pattern that forms an image and fill the microneedles with ink. The patch is added as a backing for easy handling of the shape.

How do the skin patches work?

Unlike the typically large needles needed to tattoo a detailed image, the microneedles the researchers developed are smaller than a grain of salt.

The patch only needs to be pressed into the skin once. It has to sit on the skin for a few minutes and the microneedles then release the tattoo ink.

Ultraviolet light tattoos

While the tattoos can come in a variety of colors, the researchers also developed patches that are sensitive to ultraviolet light.

“Colored tattoos and tattoos that are visible only under ultraviolet lighting for privacy have been developed,” Li writes.

This protects the privacy of the patient. In the case where the patch is being used instead of cosmetics for medical reasons and a patient does not want their tattoo to be visible, this need not be the case.

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How long do tattoo patches last?

The Georgia Tech team’s research indicated that the tattoos are likely permanent and will last at least a year. This makes the patches a good option for those who want a tattoo without risking infection or endure pain.

That being said, the microneedles could also hold temporary ink for patients who want a short-term tattoo.

How else can microneedle tattoos be used?

Prausnitz has been researching microneedles for a long time. What started with the desire to deliver vaccines painlessly turned into the realization of microneedles that could also be used for painless tattoo delivery. Before Prausnitz’s lab realized that microneedling technology could be used in humans, it began work on tattoos that could be administered to animals to determine if they were neutered or neutered.

Instead of having to painfully brand an animal, a hidden tattoo can be applied. In this way one can view the sterilization status of an animal without exposing the animal to any pain.

Prausnitz explains, “The goal is not to replace all tattoos, which are often works of beauty created by tattoo artists. Our goal is to create new opportunities for patients, pets and people who want a painless tattoo that is easy to administer.”

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