Scalp micropigmentation and the pain question
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During discussions between clients, clinical staff, consultants and technicians, one of the most common questions is about how much pain to expect during the scalp micropigmentation process.
It’s a fair question. From my own experience, I know a lot of men who daren’t ask about how much it might hurt, for fear of appearing like a wimp. Let me tell you something – I have seen bodybuilders reduced to tears at the fear of the needle, and I’ve seen a 15 year old boy endure a marathon 7 hour alopecia camouflage session without breaking a sweat. NEVER be afraid to ask, it’s a perfectly legitimate question.
The various forums and blogs are littered with responses to this common question. To a certain extent, they are slanted slightly by the number of clinics saying things like “it doesn’t hurt at all”, “the pain is a 2 out of 10” or “my clients fall asleep during the procedure”.
Okay, let’s cut the sales bullshit for a moment. Sure, the pain really isn’t that bad and yes, I have witnessed a client falling asleep during a treatment session, but to say there is no discomfort at all simply isn’t true.
Is it like getting a tattoo?
Each individual will most likely describe the feeling in a different way. Many people liken the process with that of getting a tattoo, but that’s not really accurate.
There are tattooed people who decide to get scalp micropigmentation and most of them, bearing in mind they’ve had tattoos using larger needles and a deeper penetration depth, say that the scalp micropigmentation process is not similar in pain terms at all, and that it actually hurts a lot less than getting a tattoo.
What influences the pain level?
Everyone has a different pain threshold, and the discomfort experienced varies from person to person. There are other factors that strongly influence the pain level, and although I won’t describe them all here, I’ll cover the most important ones.
Hair follicle width
Your follicles are the inspiration for the dots that are implanted by the technician, and obviously the smaller the follicles, the smaller the dots will be. If a technician needs to create smaller dots, they will press lightly on your scalp, causing less discomfort to the client. Thicker hair follicles need more pressure to be applied, so more discomfort might be felt.
Area of the scalp
Your scalp has different pain thresholds in different areas, and there are a few places where you will experience the highest levels of discomfort. The first one is the frontal hairline, the next one is the crown and the third area is the temples. Actually, treatment of the frontal hairline often causes a reaction in the sinuses, making you want to sneeze!
Condition of the skin
There are some issues with the skin which might cause problems and the most important ones are dermatitis and dryness. Dermatitis is an inflammation of the scalp skin so the area becomes more sensitive. Dryness can be dealt with if you make use of a moisturizing cream a few days prior to the treatment.
Thickness and tightness of the skin
These two factors are also important when it comes to the discomfort that you might experience. If your skin is thick and loose, the technician will often have to penetrate the skin with more force. However, thicker skin is often less sensitive to pain.
You should know that if you are stressed and anxious about the process, you will be more susceptible to pain. If, on the other hand, you are relaxed and ready to undergo the procedure, the discomfort levels will be much lower. According to Stanford University, fear is a powerful amplifier of pain. This basically means the less you worry about it, the less pain you will feel.
How bad is the discomfort level?
As we have already mentioned, pain is an individual matter. For some, it’s not a problem at all, because although there is still some pain involved, the whole thing is easily bearable. Whenever a customer feels more pain, he can ask for a break. Some people experience discomfort during the initial session, but much less so thereafter.
Having been through four sessions myself, with total session time around 10 hours, I can honestly say that it really doesn’t hurt that much, maybe 4 or 5 out of 10. Trust me on this – if I can handle it, needle phobia and all, then so can you.
Are there other ways to deal with pain?
Unless you have your scalp micropigmentation treatment at a doctors office, your technician is unlikely to dispense medication or provide qualified advice. This applies to me too, so treat my comments as merely sharing what others have reported.
Paracetamol or ibuprofen, taken an hour or so before your procedure, may help. Personally I used co-codamol, basically paracetamol with a dash of codeine for extra effect. I took it before my first session and I think it helped a little, as I experienced a little more discomfort during my second session when I went cold turkey. I would imagine regular codeine would be effective, but you may not be able to get it without prescription, depending on where you live. A lot of American clients use Tylenol, and I’m told it works quite well.
If you’re offered some kind of anaesthetic cream for your scalp, consider it with a certain degree of caution. There are those who fear it may interact with the pigment and disperse the deposits, however anaesthetic creams are commonly used in regular tattooing so I don’t understand the problem. It is an area that simply hasn’t been researched.
The bottom line? It’s a small amount of pain, and a small price to pay. Don’t let concerns about discomfort stop you getting scalp micropigmentation, as it really isn’t that big a deal.