Although SMP is first and foremost a solution for those who are losing (or have lost) their hair, a very popular secondary use for the technique is the camouflage or concealment of hair transplant scars. This is nothing new or groundbreaking as it’s been going on for years. What this article examines is what level of camouflage should you realistically expect, and are you expecting too much?
For the purposes of this article I’m going to focus on linear strip scars caused by Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) surgery. I’ll cover FUE and scalp reduction scars in a future post. These FUT scars are the most obvious, and are usually located at the back of the head and sometimes at the side. Some men have multiple scars, as the result of multiple procedures.
What prompted this article? Well, I was catching up on some Christmas shopping in Leeds on Wednesday this week, and I found myself walking behind a man who had a very obvious linear hair transplant scar on the back of his head. His procedure obviously hadn’t been that successful because he was still very much in Norwood 7 territory, and I found myself wondering why someone of his relatively young age didn’t just shave his hair off and get SMP? For me it’s so obvious, but perhaps he hasn’t heard of SMP or decided against it for some reason. I desperately wanted to tap him on the shoulder and have a quiet word, but of course I couldn’t do that. Tempting sometimes though.
The photo above shows a typical strip scar, camouflaged using scalp micropigmentation. The scar is not completely invisible, but the practitioner has done a pretty good job. To be fair another session would probably improve the level of concealment slightly, but the photo still offers a good representation of what can be achieved. I have deliberately steered away from picking the very best example I could find, as I wanted it to show what most people could reasonably strive to achieve.
How are scars treated?
Although some people have a transplant scar treated as a standalone procedure, most people have the rest of their head treated at the same time. It doesn’t really matter as far as concealment of the scar is concerned, however be aware that the treatment zone needs to be a larger area than just the scar tissue, often extending 1-2 cm above and below the scar to achieve an effective blend with surrounding hair.
The treatment process varies from client to client, because scar tissue is more unpredictable than undamaged skin. Scars tend to soak up the pigment, resulting in excessive fading. It’s no problem of course, but it does mean more sessions are usually required to treat a scar versus a regular SMP treatment for male pattern baldness.
What influences the level of concealment?
Simply put, the closer the scar tissue is to surrounding skin in terms of its colour, texture and level of prominence or indentation, the better the scar will camouflage. Smaller, cleaner, tidier scars hide better too.
If your scar is still pink, it might be worthwhile waiting a little longer for it to heal before having scalp micropigmentation to cover it. If it has already been more than two years since your surgery, or if you simply cannot wait, consider Vbeam laser therapy to accelerate the colour change in the scar.
If your scar is raised versus the skin around it, consider fraxel laser therapy to flatten it.
If your scar is indented significantly, you might want to think about dermal fillers to make the scar more alike to the skin around it. Slight indentations can be helped to some extent using fraxel, but not always.
If your scar is a different texture to the surrounding skin, or if it is particularly wide, you might consider fraxel laser therapy to smooth it out.
Your chosen scalp micropigmentation provider should be able to offer advice regarding these options. If you’re not sure, leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to help.