Scalp micropigmentation (SMP), informally known as a hair tattoo, is a non-surgical alternative to hair transplant surgery. It is not exactly like a tattoo, though. In scalp micropigmentation, the practitioner makes sure to prepare the pigment in a way that matches the existing hair colour. This tattoo doesn’t get discoloured, unlike traditional tattoos taking on blue/green hues. It is meant to be a permanent solution for those who’re suffering from hair loss problems.
In an SMP procedure, the practitioner adjusts the angles and depth of the needle differently across different areas of the scalp (like whorls on the head) to mimic the appearance of the “black dots” of natural hair follicles. But that’s exactly what you’ll end up with. Scalp micropigmentation on the entire scalp gives the appearance of a fresh buzzcut. However, let’s find out what it is exactly and who can benefit from it.
What Is Scalp Micropigmentation?
In scalp micropigmentation, the practitioner begins by taking a pigment and mixing different solutions into it to prepare a shade that matches your skin tone and hair colour. This is filled up in a medical-grade tattoo machine and then injected into the uppermost layer of the dermis, about 1-2mm deep.
Usually, the treatment requires three sessions. It may be more depending on the size of the balding region. First, the practitioner will spread the microdots in the balding regions, with spaces in between (so that there’s no risk of tattoo blowout). You then return for your second appointment a week after the first one, and the spaces in between are filled out. A month after the last session takes place, which basically involves making final touches to the scalp.
Of course, during the recovery process, you have to make sure that you’re following the washing instructions. Importantly, you need to keep in mind that direct, prolonged exposure to the sun can result in the fading of the pigment. So, make sure to wear a hat when going out and apply sunscreen that’s at least SPF 30.
When Do I Make A Good Candidate for Scalp Micropigmentation?
There are more than a few instances in which you’re recommended this procedure.
You Cannot Have A Hair Transplant
To perform a successful hair transplant surgery, you need to have a high hair density on the sides and back of the scalp (above the nape). If you don’t have sufficient hair in this “donor” area, the surgeon cannot extract hair. If s/he does so, you’ll end up with permanent bald patches on the sides/back. In addition to that, you won’t have proper scalp coverage. So, in this case, you may be advised against hair transplant surgery, however scalp micropigmentation can help.
Of course, there are two ways to go about it. You either shave your scalp completely or get the SMP procedure for the whole scalp or if you have enough hair in the balding region, you can camouflage the scalp that’s showing through by filling it with the SMP pigment. In any case, it is a suitable alternative for individuals who cannot get hair restoration surgery.
You Have An Overall Low Hair Density
This can happen to women who’re experiencing diffuse hair loss due to androgenetic alopecia. They can’t get a hair transplant because they don’t have a stable donor area. However, they’re losing density all over the scalp, even if they aren’t going bald completely. In that case, they can get scalp micropigmentation.
Other than that, males who have low hair density can give the illusion of thicker hair through this procedure. Scalp micropigmentation can also be done after a hair transplant surgery to improve the results.
You Have Surgical Scars
A lot of people choose to get a scalp micropigmentation procedure just because it can hide scars on their scalp. Before the follicular unit extraction (FUE) hair transplant technique became popular and more common, follicular unit transplant (FUT) was the norm. Its results were more natural-looking, but it left a prominent scar at the back, from where a strip of skin was removed for extracting individual follicles of hair. Hair may not grow out of the surgical scars, so it is left noticeably exposed. A scalp micropigmentation can fill it up to give the illusion of hair.
An SMP procedure can also hide surgical scars from a facelift. In this, the surgeon makes incisions along the hairline and the temple. And a patient may not have any hair growth in the sideburns and in front of the hairline after the surgery. In this case, too, they can get scalp micropigmentation.
You Want Quicker Results
With a hair transplant, you have to wait for 3-4 months before starting to see any hair growth. You may have to wait for 1-2 years to see the final results. An SMP procedure will give you results immediately (after the second session). So, if you have a big event coming up pretty soon, you can consider temporarily getting this treatment to fill out any bald spots. You can get hair transplant surgery after an SMP procedure, so you can get the surgery in your own time.
Are the Results from SMP Natural-Looking?
A good practitioner will do their best to achieve natural-looking results. The technique and the preparation of the pigment can make or break the results of this treatment. If done well, you can get natural-looking results. The microdots will look like your natural hair follicles; no one will be able to differentiate them from your actual follicles. However, you need to have realistic expectations from the treatment since it is not a hair transplant surgery. If you’re getting SMP on the entire scalp, you’ll have to shave any hair that grows out.
If you’re unable to have a hair transplant, struggle with low hair density or want to hide surgical scars on the scalp, you can consider getting a scalp micropigmentation procedure. The inked microdots are meant to look like your natural follicles with the same colour as them so that you don’t have anything to worry about.