Simon Lane and Nicole Large bridge the gap between scalp micropigmentation and tricopigmentation
For a while I was skeptical about tricopigmentation. Having been immersed in permanent scalp micropigmentation for so long, a temporary solution seemed a bit ‘trivial’. Generally, we’re seeing people who want their baldness ‘fixed’ whilst, for me, trico seemed to carry with it the fear of ‘going bald twice’.
I didn’t want to jump in with the critics and certainly not with both feet off the ground, to use a football analogy. We looked into it from an analytical and critical viewpoint seeking the opinions of others. Even his enthusiasm left me with nagging doubts, not least of which concerned the technique of leaving so much ink on the scalp during the procedure.
As ever it took a woman to change my mind. In June we were fortunate to receive a visit from Nicole Large, one of the world’s leading tricopigmentation technicians. Nicole works at Shapiro Medical Group, home to world renowned hair transplant surgeon Dr. Ron Shapiro.
Nicole visited the UK on a fact-finding mission to gain more knowledge and experience in permanent micropigmentation, not to establish which was best, but to look at how the two solutions could be used in tandem. Nicole knew about the work that Paul Clark and I have done and our reputation within the industry. She asked if she could spend some time at Brandwood Clinic to watch our work and discuss our exclusive techniques.
Similarly, we had heard of Nicole and her visit provided the opportunity for us to also learn about tricopigmentation from one of the world’s best. After a whistle-stop tour of Brandwood where she said all the right things about our set-up, our initial conversations were partaken with the accompaniment of food and alcohol. Naturally we nattered (a good English colloquialism) long into the night.
Nicole was keen to understand how we template our natural hairlines and achieve density placement throughout the scalp; how we approach hair transplant scars and the technique applied to camouflage them and how we treat alopecia clients so successfully.
In turn she explained the equipment used in tricopigmentation and the density placement, how long the pigment maintains its appearance before fading and why there are clients who are happy to return every year for top-up sessions. Guys who have had bad hair transplant procedures from rogue surgeons (yes, it even happens in the HT world), hair system users, male pattern baldness and finally clients who just trust Nicole and will not go anywhere else for treatment. I could understand and relate to this as we have the same at Brandwood. It’s about having trust in the technician and their ability to make you feel confident.
Nicole asked if she could attend Brandwood Clinic the following day and observe a treatment and continue our conversation.
That day’s client was in for his second session. He has thinning hair and was looking for a thicker appearance. Nicole watched closely the technique I applied, moving underneath the thinning hair and around the first session density giving me approving nods and thumbs-up approvals with a huge smile.
Three hours later my client was finished and, after a traditional lunch of fish & chips for my American friend, we were ready to continue last night’s conversation.
Pen and paper were out and we drew density techniques on how both tricopigmentation and scalp micropigmentation are applied. Nicole was keen for me to show her how we template our natural hairlines. Dr. Ron does them at Shapiro Medical Group and she was keen to see a different approach. It’s not something I’ve done for many people but I felt happy to show a fellow professional. She was amazed and congratulated me on the technique, taking notes to show Dr. Ron.
I was keen to see tricopigmentation applied, so my right leg was used. I was surprised at how small the initial application of dots appeared, but in a positive way. The level of pain was negligible, similar to a micro application. I tested the tricopigmentation needle and machine and performed a first and second session on tattoo skins. It was comfortable to use and my density was consistent. The tricopigmentation gun assists in the depth the needle goes, ensuring you will not go too deep in the dermal layer of the scalp and the density placement is consistent with each application.
It was now 7.30pm and we had been engrossed in practical and theory topics for over six hours. What did I learn? Tricopigmentation has a key part to play in helping clients to overcome baldness. Tricopigmentation pigments when first applied are very small but then expand to a hair follicle size, this is the opposite transformation of a scalp micropigmentation placement. Tricopigmentation uses a formula with its pigments to create a darker shade, micro uses a formula with its pigment to create a lighter shade.
If we are to help our industry evolve it is important to keep learning, others have so much to share. Despite years of experience, thousands of clients treated and the techniques I have helped introduce into scalp micropigmentation, meeting Nicole and hearing her ideas and opinions was a great learning curve for me.
I am happy to have conversations with other technicians and do so regularly with the likes of Matt Iulo, someone I have worked with and known for years, to, as recently as last week, with Eve Pleavin, a technician with a great work ethic and a passion that is a credit to this industry.
The questions to consider for me, amongst those discussed with Nicole, are:
- Can tricopigmentation and scalp micropigmentation pigments work in opposite machinery and guns bringing the two techniques closer together?
- Can the different needles used be applied in both for areas of the scalp where follicle size needs to looks finer and then stronger?
- Can we combine both pigments and techniques on a client to create an ageing illusion which will be beneficial to everyone with in both tricopigmentation and scalp micropigmentation?
For us it’s the start of what I’m sure will be a great friendship and one that we both hope can create an alliance between treatments that essentially have the same aim: to help clients feel – and look – better.