What is scalp micropigmentation?
Scalp micropigmentation treatments are a camouflage hair loss solution for men and women.
For most treatments on men, SMP involves replicating the appearance of shaven hair, by introducing thousands of tiny pigment deposits into the epidermis of the scalp. When placed by a skilled technician, the recipient appears as if they have a full head of hair shaved to a very short length, hiding the appearance of pattern baldness or even complete baldness.
For women of various hair color, or for men who are not experiencing complete baldness and wish to keep their existing hair at a longer length, the process is applied to the scalp to reduce the contrast between the scalp skin and the remaining hair.
The client usually requires 2-3 sessions of cosmetic pigmentation, each lasting approximately 2-3 hours, but time does vary depending on individual requirements. Those with bald heads will require longer sessions. The process is repeated until both the technician and client are satisfied that the semblance of hair cannot be distinguished from the surrounding real hair.
Once the pigments are deposited, the skin needs to heal. A recovery period of one week should be allowed, so that the micro-wounds created during the procedure may dry up and close while the pigments get assimilated into the dermal layer.
This remarkable hair restoration technique can be applied to much wider range of hair loss variations than hair transplant surgery or other traditional hair loss remedies can.
From general balding to hairline recession, to burn or surgery related hair loss, and of course alopecia (most commonly alopecia areata). It can be also utilised to conceal hair transplant scars or blemishes as a result of trauma to the head. The method can even be adapted to blend noticeable birthmarks into the scalp.
Numerous terms are used to describe this process. These terms include scalp pigmentation, micro scalp pigmentation, SMP, MSP, hair follicle replication, tricopigmentation and according to Wikipedia, hair tattooing. Please note that all these terms refer to the same basic scalp technique.
This is the fastest growing solution for hair loss in recent history. It is non-invasive, has almost universal appeal and is permanent. A temporary option known as tricopigmentation also exists to further broaden its appeal.
Furthermore, it remains the only cost effective hair loss fix to offer instantaneous, guaranteed results backed by thousands of genuine before and after photos. It is easy to understand why more than 300,000 men and women worldwide have now opted to have this procedure.
The cost of treatment varies from clinic to clinic, and also depends heavily on the clients requirements. However, remember the best results can only be achieved by an experienced technician who has received adequate training, and has a number of good reviews from previous clients.
Where did this procedure come from?
There are many claims about who was the first person to ‘invent’ SMP. Some of these claims go back to the 80’s and 90’s when permanent makeup artists and paramedical tattooists started experimenting with scar concealment and hairline reconstruction using basic dot techniques.
The earliest record that we’ve been able to verify is a newspaper article from Rocklin, California. Nina Ragan of Ultimate Image Studio performed a hair loss camouflage procedure which, although not up to today’s standards, was an early version of this treatment which later evolved.
The full commercialization of this service is jointly credited to two companies – HIS Hair Clinic in Birmingham, UK and Beauty Medical in Milan, Italy.
Permanent SMP was standardized as a repeatable service by Ranbir Rai-Watson of HIS Hair Clinic. Around the same time in 2009, Milena Lardi of Beauty Medical launched a tricopigmentation (shorter duration SMP) service that she’d been developing for some time, and worked alongside the hair transplant industry to gain recognition for this new technique.
Two new providers, Artistry Concepts in Florida and Spanish company Headstyl, launched shortly after. Then Good Look Ink and Vinci Hair Clinic entered the market, and the industry started to grow at rapid pace.
Is this really a viable solution?
For most people who are experiencing hair loss, SMP provides a workable option to hide or even completely conceal the problem. It depends entirely on the skill of the technician, the expectations of the client and suitability of the treatment plan that is drawn up during the consultation process.
It is perfectly possible for this treatment to be entirely undetectable to the untrained eye, enabling the client to return to their job and family without fear of being discovered. It depends on the situation however, as a previously bald man, lets say a Norwood 7, is likely to be questioned when they suddenly ‘regain’ their hair. It is important that the client knows what to expect when they return to their everyday life.
For female clients, their treatments usually go undetected as any woman losing her hair has often done a good job of hiding the problem before their treatment anyway. As the procedure is not designed to mimic shaved hair, rather to reduce contrast between the hair and the bare scalp, the visual difference before and after treatment is less dramatic and therefore less noticeable.
The vast majority of male and female clients are never discovered to have had any kind of cosmetic procedure, and fears of being found out are often without cause. Furthermore, SMP is becoming more common now, and so is more socially accepted than it used to be.
Can this technique be used to hide alopecia?
Usually, yes. SMP is commonly used to disguise the symptoms of alopecia and it is generally effective. Alopecia areata (patchy hair loss) can be quite challenging from a technicians point of view as the future hair loss pattern is often unpredictable, but clients with this condition are treated every day with great results.
Alopecia totalis requires specialist skills to recreate not only the hair around the upper scalp, but also the sides and back of the head too. In these situations it is always best to find an artist who has experience in this area.
Can pigmentation hide hair transplant scars?
Yes, in fact this was the first application of basic SMP techniques. See our scar section for more information.
Both FUT strip scars (follicular unit transplantation) and FUE dot scars (follicular unit extraction) can be camouflaged effectively with SMP. Even more challenging scars like those from scalp reduction can be tackled and the concealment rates are often very high indeed.
What are the maintenance requirements?
Generally speaking, SMP is very low maintenance. Male clients simply need to keep their head shaved and moisturized, use sunscreen when necessary and have shorter top-up treatments every 3-4 years to keep an effective camouflage.
Female clients have even less maintenance to worry about. Usually its simply a case of having top-ups from time to time, although these can be less often than for men, and where their hair loss is caused by a changeable condition like alopecia, top-ups may not be needed at all if they see a noticeable improvement in their symptoms.