WHAT IS SCALP MICROPIGMENTATION?
Scalp micro pigmentation, or SMP for short, is the process of pigmenting the scalp to make it look like you have a real head of shaved hair. It is a highly skilled process and contrary to popular belief, should not be attempted by tattoo parlours or cosmetic pigmentation specialists as the technique and equipment used is quite specific.
Ultimately shaved hair appears as thousands of small ‘dots’ on the scalp, and SMP aims to replicate this effect using pigments that are effectively tattooed into the skin.
1.How is it done?
Scalp micropigmentation treatments usually are split over three separate sessions, although the actual time can vary depending on the extent of your hair loss, the style you require, and other factors.
During the treatments, micro needles are used to layer pigment dots on your scalp in a process that resembles getting a tattoo. But SMP is a highly-technical, specialized process performed by trained technicians. The tiny “dots” of pigment, placed in the dermal layer of skin, create the illusion of a full head of shaved hair.
Before your first SMP treatment, at a consultation, you will meet with the ‘pracititoner’ who does the treatment and discuss your requirements, including the shape of your hairline, its positioning, as well as the density and shade of your pigmentation.
A tiny wound is created in the skin when each dot is applied. A scab heals over the wound and eventually falls away, taking some of the implanted pigment with it. Furthermore, the immune system attacks the pigments, causing them to shrink. This gradual “fading” of the dots varies from person to person but necessitates the need for multiple sessions to get the required pigment shade. A patient’s treatment session includes the application of different shades of pigmentation. Different shades are needed to enable some pigment deposits to stand out from among the rest. Lighter pigments are usually applied during the first session, while subsequent sessions introduce the applications of darker shades.
2.How long does a treatment last?
The amount of time needed for an SMP treatment varies but the typical first session lasts from three to five hours, while additional sessions usually take less time as the correct blend of density and darkness is achieved on the scalp.
3.What are its applications?
There are a variety of uses for scalp micropigmentation and not just for treating general balding and hairline recession. It’s also appropriate for burn or surgery-related hair loss, and to conceal hair transplant scars, blemishes, or marks caused by trauma to the skin. It’s even used to blend birthmarks into the scalp.
4.Does it hurt?
While most patients experience mild discomfort during the procedure – especially in its earlier stages – the discomfort typically becomes more tolerable as the session progresses. Some areas of the scalp have more, denser nerve endings than others, but the majority of patients focus on the benefits of the treatment rather than any discomfort they may experience.
The bottom line, however, is that SMP hurts less than having a regular tattoo and much less than a hair transplant. Anesthetics are usually available to numb the scalp, although many men choose to go without them.
5Are there side effects?
Scalp micropigmentation has few, if any, side effects. Note: your scalp will be little red after each application, and the dots will be darker and larger as your skin begins to heal. But, again, the tiny scabs that form over each dot will heal and fall off, taking some of the pigment with them.
6.Is SMP just for men?
Scalp micropigmentation is effective in treating hair loss in men and women. Like men, women can suffer from balding as they lose hair due to events such as childbirth, surgery, stress, and more, and SMP for women is a rapidly-growing service.
There is a difference between SMP for men and women, however. While a man receives treatments to replicate shaven hair follicles, the primary goal of treatment for women is to decrease the contrast between the scalp and hair. And while women usually lose hair evenly across their entire scalp, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll go completely bald. Moreover, a woman’s frontal hairline remains intact.
It’s not necessary for women to shave their heads before SMP treatments. Instead, the technician applies pigmentation by parting the hair section by section. The result – a “shaded” scalp – makes it harder to see the difference in color between the hair and scalp, which creates the appearance of thicker hair.
Note: SMP often works best for women with dark or brunette hair. It’s usually not recommended for blonde women.
7.How much maintenance is involved?
In the first few days after treatment, you should avoid activities that cause sweating of the scalp, as well as shampooing or washing your head. By day four, most men can shave with a foil shaver but need to be careful to not run it over any parts of the scalp in which scabs have not yet fallen off. Only by day 10 should you shave with a razor blade.
In most cases, an SMP treatment lasts for four to six years before the patient needs to have another treatment done because of fading of the pigments.