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Scenesse implant - tan from the inside out

Is a Solution for:
Sun Protection for Body
September 1, 2011 Reviewed by admin 31 Comments

Have you ever seen one of those creepy sci-fi movies that depicts some mad scientist or zealous alien implanting a chip into an unsuspecting human’s arm, head, or shoulder? No doubt the intrusion makes for entertaining cinema, but can you imagine actually subjecting yourself to this X-Files-esque scenario for the sake of beauty?

Hear me out; aliens won’t be performing the procedure. Dermatologists will be the ones wielding the incising instrument and the implant – which isn’t a tracking chip, in case you haven’t caught on yet. No, this implant is a melanin-stimulating capsule, about the size of a grain of rice, and it will give you a three-month tan without the use of dangerous tanning beds or messy, bottled spray tans.

The Scenesse implant, made by Clinuvel, is billed as "a therapeutic photoprotective drug for patients who are most at risk from UV and sun exposure.” Scenesse is the trade name for Afamelanotide, which is a synthetic version of the natural α-melanocyte–stimulating hormone (α-MSH) found in the body. α-MSH induces skin pigmentation – as does its analog, Afamelanotide. Of course, the darker one’s skin is, the less UV damage it will incur. This is a great defense against cancer and, “potentially, [the Scenesse implant] does offer an alternative to commercial sunscreens.” So, why does Scenesse use Afamelanotide and not the natural α-MSH itself? The latter has a very short half-life, rendering it an unrealistic choice.

Afamelanotide is similar to Botox in that it was originally created for medical reasons (to stave off cancer and aid those with other skin diseases). The cosmetic industry would certainly welcome the Scenesse implant with open arms, but long-term effects need to be evaluated, according to one professor involved with the implant.

This is interesting, as using Afamelanotide in implant form for the purpose of tanning has been in the works for at least ten years. In 2002, BBC reported on a laboratory in Australia developing Melanotan, which was the original name for Afamelanotide. Nick-named the “Barbie Drug,” Melanotan was tested on dogs and rats that actually grew black fur when given the substance. And Melanotan has been around since the 1980s, when a University of Arizona team first discovered a way to tan people from the inside out. Though, at that point, Melanotan was more likely going to emerge in pill form and not as an implant.

There is something of a black market scandal occurring in people’s frenzy to buy Melanotan. Apparently, pharmaceutical company Epitan was in charge of Melanotan development until it was shut down in 2005 in the wake of accusations regarding unregulated drugs, shared syringes and other risks. That’s when Clinuvel was formed, and it developed the implantable Afamelanotide. The CEO of Clinuvel has told several media outlets that any products sold online as Melanotan are not safe and are not Clinuvel-made Afamelanotide. So it looks like we’re going to have to wait for that implant to be 100% ready instead of resorting to shady Internet exchanges.

It is unclear how invasive the Scenesse implant is, but I have a feeling that it will be a popular alternative to sunless tanners if and when it hits the market. What do you think? Would you try the tan-plant?

Editor's Note: As of August 2014, this is the status regarding availability of the Scenesse implant:

Currently SCENESSE® is only available by a physician's prescription in Italy, under a law called 648/96, and in Switzerland. The 648/96 listing allows Italian physicians to prescribe SCENESSE® to Italian citizens diagnosed with erythropoietic protoporphyria (EPP). For more information on this scheme, see Italian access scheme 648/96. For more information on the Swiss access scheme, please contact us.

Both the Swiss and Italian schemes are only available to permanent residents of these countries.

SCENESSE® cannot be obtained outside of Clinuvel's clinical trials anywhere else in the world.


  • April 24, 2018

    by Inge

    When will this be available in the US?????

  • October 10, 2017

    by Jenny Murphy

    This is a MEDICAL treatment for a particular disorder (EPP) where the patients suffer extraordinary pain after only a short period of sunlight exposure, NOT a beauty product. In Europe it has passed the European Medicines Agency, and so is now licensed for use only on EPP patients. It can only be administered in porphyria centres and all patients who receive it will be on a database, so that the long term effectiveness and safety can be monitored. I'm not as up to date with the situation in the US, but I think that it is currently with the FDA. For those of you with VITILIGO, the pharmaceutical company is looking at using this same drug for its treatment. It is not yet available, and you will need to be patient. I understand how difficult that can be - I have EPP and have been waiting for this treatment for many years now, since I first heard about it. Check out the company website (Search CLINUVEL). Also, for those with Vitiligo, I wouldn't hesitate to email them, or leave a message on their Facebook page.

  • June 28, 2017

    by joseph

    need to know if the drug is prescribed. i have vitalgo from cancer treratment for melanoma. my patches are over my entire body. can this drug help.

  • March 6, 2016

    by tom

    Is this product already for sale in Spain?
    Or how to order this product?

  • June 22, 2015

    by Harleigh

    I would love to no as to how I can apply for this as I have unbelievably pale skin

  • March 21, 2015

    by kim

    My skin is turning whiter and whiter every month from vitiligo and it's very depressing. It comes in ugly patches here and there and I wear sweaters all summer long because of how unsightly it is. I would absolutely love to try this especially for my job. I'm in front of clients all day long and I'm tired of worrying if the makeup on my face is fading and showing the large patches of white on my face. It is debilitating. :(

  • March 3, 2015

    by alison sayles

    I would really love this to become commonplace i have super white skin which just burns ount me in !!!!

  • August 19, 2014

    by Pauline Brown

    To have to live with the stigma of vitiligo is really not nice at all so iiwould be very happy to give it a go. When and how soon will it be available.

  • August 10, 2014

    by Kathy

    I would really like to know when & where can I get this ? Sign me up please !

  • February 26, 2013

    by Debra


  • August 1, 2012

    by dave

    I participated in the clinical trial of the implant several years ago and it worked really well with no side affects except for going brown. A lot of hard work over decades by universities and doctors looks like it will finally pay off. I lost a family member to melanoma so the sooner this is on the market the safer it will be for fair skinned people who enjoy the sun.

  • July 25, 2012

    by Deb

    Can't wait ,when will it be available??????

  • June 3, 2012

    by Sam

    I will absolutely try it. I already use melanotan II and love it. Maybe moles and freckles will darken less with the implant. Hey, one can only hope. :)

  • March 13, 2012

    by Brandi

    OMG I would love to have a tan and not have to fry myself in the sun or tanning salon. I am Irish mostly and very pale so I have to do something! I don't want to look like leather-face when I turn 40 : /

  • January 11, 2012

    by michelle

    without a doubt id love to have a bronze tan but as im so pale i just burn when is this avalible i would defo try it

  • November 22, 2011

    by Fita

    DEFF yes for when can I get it?

  • October 3, 2011

    by Lisa L

    As another lily-white fan of this site (my grandmother once told me that my mid-section looks like the belly of a dead fish), I too look forward to having this option readily available. I won't risk my health on a fake tan, but once it has been proven safe, I'm there.

  • October 3, 2011

    by Jason

    How much longer will they need to study it before they feel comfortable with it being in the same category as Botox is what I would like to know. Will it take another five long years? sigh

  • September 30, 2011

    by Brian

    It has been a long,long wait. It is always just around the corner. Approval must be tough to gain. Not prepared to risk life through the black-market though. Not yet at least.

  • September 14, 2011

    by Susan S.

    Very interesting. Maybe this explains why I used to start feeling a little, er ... sexy when I'd lay out and tan at the beach many moons ago. A lie in the sun always made me want to romp in the hay!

  • September 9, 2011

    by Dorielle

    A tan, on my "Elizabethan White" skin, without the aging effects of the sun... Oh yeah, I'm all in!!

  • September 8, 2011

    by Natalija

    I came across an interesting study:

  • September 7, 2011

    by Lori

    It was so very hard to put my fun in the sun days behind me. Uncomfortable in my pale skin, I almost find it painful to faithfully apply sunscreen. However, I've learned the hard way what the consequences of my unhealthy skin behaviors were. ABSOLUTELY, I'd be waiting in line!

  • September 7, 2011

    by Carol

    It depends on the cost. I might pay up to $150 but it would seem unlikely it would be that affordable. We'll see!

  • September 2, 2011

    by Mark

    Like Julie Kay, I too, remember days past and a beautiful bronze body that I once owned. Yes, I would have to give it a go.

  • September 2, 2011

    by martha

    I cannot wait for it!!!!!!!!!!!!1!!!!!!!!!!!!!! looking forward to get it

  • September 2, 2011

    by Ann

    It sounds intriguing but as much as I'd like a tan I don't think I'll be first in line....let someone else be the guinea pig...

  • September 1, 2011

    by Julie Kay

    Reading this (thank you, SarahK), I immediately yearned for my tanning days- immediately. I am very weary of being so pale... Yes, I would try this implant. In a heartbeat- UNLESS they made it cost prohibitive. ~jk

  • September 1, 2011

    by Jina

    Would it bring on any unusual pigmentation? Implants for stimulation of collegen and elastin growth and repair would be a good idea. Implants supporting facial sag would be excellent. I wonder what the future holds. Have to have more people of all ages testing these implants for side effects.

  • September 1, 2011

    by Gloria

    Double hell yes!! I would love to have a tan, but I just don't tan - just burn. Sunless tanners always look terrible when they start to wear off and spray tans as well. Bring it on I say, as long as it is safe.

  • September 1, 2011

    by deb

    would I try it....? oh hell yes. :-)

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