Alec Falkenham, a PhD student at Dalhouse University in Nova Scotia, Canada, is working on a tattoo removal cream that could rid people of regrettable ink without the searing pain or physical and financial scars of laser removal.
The 27-year-old made the discovery that a cream can be used to get rid of tattoos as part of his medical studies in which he is looking at white blood cells called macrophages.
He explained to the Daily Mail: "Macrophages are known as the big eaters of the immune system. They eat foreign material, like tattoo pigment, to protect the surrounding tissue."
New macrophages will move in to replace the old ones once the cells have done their jobs and drained away. The ointment will target the macrophages that contain ink, thus making the tattoo disappear.
Laser tattoo removal can cost around £300 per square inch, per session, meaning that bills could run into the thousands.
Falkenham says that the cream could cost as little as four US cents per square centimetre - and there are other benefits too.
He told CBC: "When comparing it to laser-based tattoo removal, in which you see the burns, the scarring, the blisters, in this case, we've designed a drug that doesn't really have much off-target effect.
"We're not targeting any of the normal skin cells, so you won't see a lot of inflammation. In fact, based on the process that we're actually using, we don't think there will be any inflammation at all and it would actually be anti-inflammatory."
He has now patented his invention, dubbed Bisphosphonate Liposomal Tattoo Removal (BLTR), and is currently working on the commercial aspects of it.