Researchers Develop New Bloodless Tattoo Technology Useful For Medical Applications And More

For those who are ready to graduate from sticker tattoos to people who are a tad scared or too impatient to get an actual tattoo, this is for you. It’s also perfect for those with certain medical conditions that predispose them to infection, like diabetes.

PHOTO: Unsplash/Jonathan Cooper

In a study published in the iScience journal, researchers have developed a low-cost, painless, and bloodless way to get a tattoo. If that isn’t enough, this new technology of tattoos has many applications, such as medical alerts and veterinary uses.

One perk of the painless tattoos is that they can be self-administered. Forget those dangerous DIY tattoo kits you can buy off the internet. This one is a much safer option if you want to get a tattoo by yourself.

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology say that they miniaturized the needle so that it remains painless but still effectively deposits ink in the skin. The amazing difference between traditional tattoos and this new tattoo is that the microneedles they developed are made of the tattoo ink itself.

PHOTO: Unsplash/Fallon Michael

Opposed to the act of puncturing larger needles repeatedly into the skin to get a decent ink deposit, all you need to do to apply the microneedle tattoo is to press a patch into your skin just once and then dissolve it to leave the ink in your skin. Et voila, a bloodless, painless tattoo.

“This could be a way not only to make medical tattoos more accessible but also to create new opportunities for cosmetic tattoos because of the ease of administration,” said Mark Prausnitz, one of the researchers.

The study focuses on microneedle tattoos’ medical applications. The highlight of the study is that these microneedle patches can be used for medical tattoos, which can store a person’s health status and other various information when needed. The researchers worry that getting a traditional tattoo comes with the risk of infection as well, and using microneedle patches removes this as well.

“We saw this as an opportunity to leverage our work on microneedle technology to make tattoos more accessible,” Prausnitz said.

PHOTO: iScience/Microneedle patch tattoos/Song Li, Youngeun Kim, Jeong Woo Lee, Mark R. Prausnitz
Researcher’s Graphical Abstract showing representative microscopy images of different microneedle patch tattoos

“These MN patch tattoos recorded medical conditions such as diabetic medical alerts and vaccination status, responded to biophysical cues for possible physiological monitoring, and encoded complex personal health information,” the researchers wrote in their summary.

Prausnitz said that the goal of their research is to create new opportunities for both pets and people who want a painless tattoo that can easily be administered.

The researchers conclude their study by writing, “MN patch tattoos can simplify tattoo administration, thereby increasing safety and access to tattoos for medical, cosmetic, research, and other uses.”

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