The ultimate guide to tricopigmentation

One of the early forms of scalp micropigmentation, tricopigmentation is essentially a shorter duration version of SMP. However, tricopigmentation also played a pivotal role in the worldwide rollout of SMP services. Here, we tell you everything you need to know.

milena lardi the creator of tricopigmentation

What is tricopigmentation?

Sometimes called ‘temporary SMP’, tricopigmentation uses a different technique to implant pigment deposits more superficially than standard scalp micropigmentation. The result, in theory at least, is a shorter duration treatment that fades more quickly.

Many people are drawn to tricopigmentation for various reasons. Some like the flexibility and perceived lower risk. In case they don’t like their new look, if tricopigmentation fades, they can simply return to their previous appearance. Others cannot have permanent tattoos for religious reasons, while tricopigmentation is for many, a more palatable option that aligns better with their religious observations.

Developed in tandem by Milena Lardi and Toni Belfatto, both of whom worked independently to create their own interpretations of tricopigmentation, Milena Lardi in particular was very successful in persuading the hair transplant community to adopt tricopigmentation as an adjunct to surgery. It’s shorter duration promise addressed many of the concerns physicans had at the time about so-called ‘permanent SMP’.

Why is tricopigmentation less popular than SMP?

Scalp micropigmentation and tricopigmentation were developed around the same time. There are many reasons why tricopigmentation did not find favor in the way that SMP did:

  • SMP was adopted by leading providers, whereas tricopigmentation was not
  • SMP has been better marketed
  • Doubts remain about the long term implications of tricopigmentation

While Milena Lardi was pushing tricopigmentation into the hair transplant industry, SMP was promoted by large scale dedicated providers who were not embedded in the traditional hair restoration industry. This introduced SMP to a whole new demographic of people who simply were not interested in a hair transplant, but would consider a groundbreaking new procedure if it was cost effective and easy to live with.

Ultimately this meant that SMP achieved vastly more scale than tricopigmentation. Nowadays, tricopigmentation is not widely available and has been largely resigned to the history books, although it is still available in a few places.

tricopigmentation hairline pre-draw
tricopigmentation complete

Do tricopigmentation pigments really fade over time?

The entire purpose and benefit of tricopigmentation is that it fades more quickly. This provides flexibility, reassurance, and also satisfies certain religious requirements for those who cannot have permanent SMP.

Unfortunately, this critical feature of tricopigmentation has been called into question. Many artists believe tricopigmentation does not fade to nothing, as is claimed, and feel the procedure has been mis-sold to the industry.

Some artists who trained in both tricopigmentation and SMP, claim to see clients 3-4 years later who still have very visible pigmentation in their scalp. This tends to corroborate with some of the critics claims, and raises serious questions for those who chose this option, and their artist, specifically because tricopigmentation was supposed to fade.

The shorter duration factor was supposed to be achieved through a combination of specialist iron oxide pigments, and a more superficial implantation depth. However, the only way to create a truly temporary tattoo would be to implant so superficially that the pigmentation would vanish as the skin sheds, a process that takes about a month. So a tattoo can only last a month, or be permanent. Any other outcome is simply not possible because of the way the skin shedding cycle works.

Is this option still available?

Your typical scalp micropigmentation clinic does not offer tricopigmentation. It is a specialist procedure that requires different pigments and a specific machine to manage depth in a different way. Any artist offering tricopigmentation without the right equipment, consumables or training are not offering the genuine procedure. It’s not something any SMP artist can just add to their treatment menu.

A small number of clinics still offer tricopigmentation.

  • Milan, Italy: Beauty Medical
  • Casoli, Italy: Toni Belfatto
  • Antwerp, Belgium: Prohairclinic
  • London, UK: Velvet Pigmentation
  • Minnesota, USA: Shapiro Medical Group
  • New Jersey, USA: Ahead Ink

We no longer support or recommend tricopigmentation as there are too many uncertainties around its core ‘shorter duration’ benefit. Properly executed ‘permanent SMP’, or scalp micropigmentation, is a better option with a long track record and wide range of quality service providers.

tricopigmentation by milena lardi