Microneedle know-how for low-cost, painless, and cold tattoos


As an alternative of sitting in a tattoo chair for hours enduring painful punctures, think about getting tattooed by a pores and skin patch containing microscopic needles. Researchers on the Georgia Institute of Expertise have developed low-cost, painless, and cold tattoos that may be self-administered and have many purposes, from medical alerts to monitoring neutered animals to cosmetics.

We have miniaturized the needle in order that it is painless, however nonetheless successfully deposits tattoo ink within the pores and skin. This might be a method not solely to make medical tattoos extra accessible, but additionally to create new alternatives for beauty tattoos due to the convenience of administration.”

Mark Prausnitz, principal investigator on the paper

Prausnitz, Regents’ Professor and J. Erskine Love Jr. Chair within the College of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, offered the analysis within the journal iScience, with former Georgia Tech postdoctoral fellow Track Li as co-author.

Tattoos are utilized in medication to cowl up scars, information repeated most cancers radiation remedies, or restore nipples after breast surgical procedure. Tattoos additionally can be utilized as an alternative of bracelets as medical alerts to speak critical medical circumstances reminiscent of diabetes, epilepsy, or allergy symptoms.

Numerous beauty merchandise utilizing microneedles are already in the marketplace -; principally for anti-aging -; however creating microneedle know-how for tattoos is new. Prausnitz, a veteran on this space, has studied microneedle patches for years to painlessly administer medication and vaccines to the pores and skin with out the necessity for hypodermic needles.

“We noticed this as a possibility to leverage our work on microneedle know-how to make tattoos extra accessible,” Prausnitz stated. “Whereas some persons are prepared to just accept the ache and time required for a tattoo, we thought others may favor a tattoo that’s merely pressed onto the pores and skin and doesn’t harm.”

Remodeling tattooing

Tattoos usually use giant needles to puncture repeatedly into the pores and skin to get a great picture, a time-consuming and painful course of. The Georgia Tech group has developed microneedles which are smaller than a grain of sand and are manufactured from tattoo ink encased in a dissolvable matrix.

“As a result of the microneedles are manufactured from tattoo ink, they deposit the ink within the pores and skin very effectively,” stated Li, the lead creator of the examine.

On this method, the microneedles might be pressed into the pores and skin simply as soon as after which dissolve, leaving the ink within the pores and skin after a couple of minutes with out bleeding.

Tattooing approach

Though most microneedle patches for prescribed drugs or cosmetics have dozens or tons of of microneedles organized in a sq. or circle, microneedle patch tattoos imprint a design that may embody letters, numbers, symbols, and pictures. By arranging the microneedles in a selected sample, every microneedle acts like a pixel to create a tattoo picture in any form or sample.

The researchers begin with a mould containing microneedles in a sample that kinds a picture. They fill the microneedles within the mould with tattoo ink and add a patch backing for handy dealing with. The ensuing patch is then utilized to the pores and skin for a couple of minutes, throughout which period the microneedles dissolve and launch the tattoo ink. Tattoo inks of varied colours might be integrated into the microneedles, together with black-light ink that may solely be seen when illuminated with ultraviolet gentle.

Prausnitz’s lab has been researching microneedles for vaccine supply for years and realized they might be equally relevant to tattoos. With assist from the Alliance for Contraception in Cats and Canines, Prausnitz’s group began engaged on tattoos to determine spayed and neutered pets, however then realized the know-how might be efficient for individuals, too.

The tattoos had been additionally designed with privateness in thoughts. The researchers even created patches delicate to environmental components reminiscent of gentle or temperature modifications, the place the tattoo will solely seem with ultraviolet gentle or larger temperatures. This supplies sufferers with privateness, revealing the tattoo solely when desired.

The examine confirmed that the tattoos might final for no less than a yr and are prone to be everlasting, which additionally makes them viable beauty choices for individuals who need an aesthetic tattoo with out danger of an infection or the ache related to conventional tattoos. Microneedle tattoos might alternatively be loaded with momentary tattoo ink to handle short-term wants in medication and cosmetics.

Microneedle patch tattoos may also be used to encode data within the pores and skin of animals. Moderately than clipping the ear or making use of an ear tag to animals to point sterilization standing, a painless and discreet tattoo might be utilized as an alternative.

“The aim is not to interchange all tattoos, which are sometimes works of magnificence created by tattoo artists,” Prausnitz stated. “Our aim is to create new alternatives for sufferers, pets, and individuals who need a painless tattoo that may be simply administered.”


Journal reference:

Li, S., et al. (2022) Microneedle patch tattoos. iScience. doi.org/10.1016/j.isci.2022.105014.

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