This may sound a little strange, but the only reason I contemplated writing this article is because a lot of people search online specifically for scalp micropigmentation horror stories. That kinda got me thinking. Why do people do that? If you’re reading this right now, the chances are you’ve done exactly that, so you probably know the reason better than I do, but I’ll have a wild stab in the dark nonetheless.
I think it’s most likely for one of two reasons.
Firstly, we all like a bit of drama, don’t we? It’s like that episode of Family Guy where the Griffins are at an air show. Screw the aerial acrobatics, the crowd just want to see someone die. It’s not a criticism because we’re all a bit like that, hence why soaps like Eastenders and Corrie are so popular (not sure what the American equivalent is, sorry :)). Oh, and in case you don’t watch Family Guy, here’s a clip.
The other (slightly more sober) possibility is that you’re genuinely looking for the catch. The excuse. The reason not to do something that you perhaps feel a little uncomfortable with. It’s ok, it’s a big deal getting scalp micropigmentation. Hell, I worked at HIS Hair Clinic for nearly 5 years before I finally bit the bullet and went through with it myself. If you’re anxious and looking for horror stories because you need an excuse not to do it, that’s perfectly understandable.
Its really important to know however that like the guys who think they’ve seen a ghost or UFO, most of the time these stories have a perfectly logical (and earthly) explanation. That’s not to say that ghosts and UFO’s don’t exist, and every now and then a true-to-life horror story really does emerge, but you should be able to distinguish between what’s real and what’s not.
Where do these stories stem from?
Well, sometimes people have a genuinely bad experience. Sub-standard clinics do exist, and really do sell and perform bad treatments on everyday guys like you and I. It’s unfortunate, but it’s the reality that’s created by an unregulated industry and a handful of unscrupulous operators.
For now, let’s leave those bad clinics for another post. What I’m talking about here are the panic phases that many people have during or immediately after their SMP treatment, like those I see all the time on the HIS forum. Some of this panic is justified, but usually it is not.
What are the main triggers?
The birth of a scalp micropigmentation horror story usually occurs when a client panics about how their treatment is progressing. Like I said, sometimes their concern is genuine and understandable, and other times it’s just part of the legendary ‘rollercoaster’ that is synonymous with the SMP process. Here are the factors that usually start it off.
Dots too large
This is a common one. Immediately after your treatment, each dot is covered by a small scab. These scabs contain pigment, and look remarkably like oversized SMP dots. After 5-10 days, the scabs start to come away and take much of the pigment with them, leaving behind a much smaller, lighter and ultimately more realistic ‘follicle’ representation.
Rapid mid-treatment fading
Caused by exactly the same process as described above, when scabs start to come away to reveal much smaller and lighter dots beneath, this is often misinterpreted as fading. It’s not actually fading, but the change can be dramatic and leaves some clients disappointed because they believe their treatment is disappearing.
Dots are turning blue
Now, in some cases this is justified. Some SMP clinics are nothing more than glorified tattoo shops, and utilise regular tattoo techniques to create what they believe is SMP. Unfortunately this means that regular tattoo inks are used, which quickly break down and turn blue under the skin. If you’ve been to a lesser-known or unreputable clinic, you may have a genuine problem that needs to be addressed.
If you’ve been to a clinic that has a better reputation, and a strong track record of NOT giving it’s clients blue heads, then what you are seeing is almost certainly temporary bruising. Honestly, if I had a nickel…….. Dark pigments on light skin plus bruising after treatment usually equals blue or purple. Don’t worry, it goes after a few days.
Hairline too sharp / defined
There are two scenarios here. If your treatment is very fresh, your hairline will soften considerably over the coming weeks and your hairline will appear much less defined. Alternatively it could be that you specified a hairline that was too aggressive. If you’re mid-treatment still, just ask your practitioner to break it up a little during your next session. It’s easily fixed.
But real horror stories do exist, right?
Sadly, yes they do.
I always stress the importance of finding the right practitioner to do your treatment, because I genuinely believe this is the difference between success and failure. Unfortunately when we’re talking about your head, failure really isn’t an option, yet it beggars belief how many people don’t do enough research before jumping in head first.
I am especially fearful of what might happen in this unregulated market if people become more price-sensitive, as bargain basement treatments will only perpetuate the problem. Much more important, and ultimately key to achieving a good result, is finding out how your practitioner was trained and learning more about the background of their employer.
This really is a horror story. Pigments are blue, and blending is non-existent
The basic message here guys, is to be careful. If the company you’re considering having your treatment with has some genuinely bad reviews, fails to satisfactorily answer all your questions, is pushing you to sign on the dotted line, is inexplicably cheap or just plain doesn’t feel right, back away. You can always go back to them later, but the opportunity to gather your thoughts and do a little more research may just save your skin.
Remember that the SMP industry is fundamentally a good place, full of good people who genuinely change lives every day. That’s why I love it so much. However it’s also a lucrative place, and that attracts operators who are both unhelpful, and unwelcome. Don’t fall foul of their deceit. Do your homework, and choose someone reputable.