After losing a considerable amount of hair, sometimes you cannot recognise the person standing in front of you in the mirror. It is painful and heartbreaking. Pattern baldness is irreversible. Fortunately, we live in times where snake oil is not presented as the most effective strategy against permanent hair loss. Times have changed for the better in terms of healthcare facilities that are now available. You can restore your self-esteem and confidence through hair transplant surgery. However, there’s another option that you can avail: hair tattoo, also known as scalp micro-pigmentation. This is an option that we recommend you choose when nothing else is working out.
Hair tattoo is a better option than different wigs and hair systems. You do not have to buy any expensive maintenance products for it either. While for some people, hair tattoo may seem like a scary experience, fortunately, it isn’t exactly like a traditional tattoo. Hair transplant is a surgical technique for hair growth. On the other hand, hair tattoo is a non-surgical method that gives the illusion of hair. They are both effective in achieving certain goals. Whether you’re thinning, balding, or experiencing a receding hairline, both the techniques can work in their own way to provide satisfactory results.
What is Scalp Micro Pigmentation (SMP)?
This technique uses a specialised pigment along with an electric tattoo device. A micro needle penetrates the skin of the scalp for injection of the pigment. It creates “dots” that mimic tiny hair follicles. In order to create a natural look, it is made sure that the colour of the pigment matches the natural skin tone and hair colour of the person. The shadow, angling of follicles, and their depth are also taken into consideration. The end result is a scalp that looks freshly shaved. Of course, it will only always look like that. No hair growth takes place with hair tattoo.
Unlike hair transplant surgery, no anaesthetic is used for creating a hair tattoo. This leads many people to fear pain. Sometimes, SMP practitioners do apply a numbing cream before beginning the procedure. However, it still comes down to the pain tolerance of the person. So, we cannot definitively answer whether you’ll feel a lot of pain or not because it varies from one person to another. It definitely hurts less than a traditional tattoo, though. That’s because the needle doesn’t penetrate as deeply.
In scalp micro-pigmentation, the pigment is layered in the superficial layer of the skin. There’s usually a gap of one week before the person has to come back for the next treatment session. The total number of sessions can differ depending on the area of baldness that needs coverage. You need to find a professional who understands well the art of “colouring the scalp with hair” so to speak. That’s because it isn’t just about inserting the colour in. Make sure that you follow the guidelines provided to you for aftercare so that you don’t damage your hair tattoo.
When Is Hair Tattoo the Better Idea?
Let’s take a look at the few instances where scalp micro pigmentation is the better solution:
Poor Donor Area Health
A reason why sometimes hair transplant surgery cannot take place is the poor donor area health of the patient’s scalp. It’s an unfortunate event. The surgeon cannot extract enough follicles to cover the balding area. A hair transplant surgery in such a case would not produce satisfactory results. One study published in the International Journal of Dermatology showed that 80 patients, who had a scalp medical tattoo between June 2014 and June 2017 and were followed for 6 months afterwards, had an average satisfaction of 4.8 on a 5-point Likert scale. The research established that a scalp medical tattoo is a very effective treatment for those patients who are suffering from extensive hair loss.
Diffuse Hair Loss
It is also suitable for providing coverage in the case of diffuse hair loss. Many women experience this after menopause. Therefore, instead of using expensive hair attachments, hair tattoos can help create a fuller, denser look. Another situation where hair tattooing offers an effective solution is for hiding the scars of FUT hair transplant surgery. The scars in this technique are very prominent. Hair tattoo does a good job of hiding it. If you’ve lost hair in the crown region of the head and prefer to keep your hair short, then this is a good alternative too.
Hair tattoo can also produce faster results than a hair transplant surgery. It can take more than a month, depending on the area of baldness, for you to see the final results of hair tattoo. But with hair transplant surgery, the progress is slower. It usually takes a year for the results to start showing.
Premature Hair Loss
If you’ve started to lose hair early in life, then you might not get doctor’s recommendation to get a hair transplant surgery anytime soon. That’s because the pattern of balding is unpredictable at that time. Your surgery might not be helpful in the end. Therefore, you can experiment with a hair tattoo until the time comes when you can permanently grow your hair through a hair transplant surgery. People who’ve lost their hair as a result of an illness can also benefit from this procedure.
When Is Hair Transplant Surgery the Better Option?
Let’s take a look at different scenarios in regards to that.
When You Want to Grow Your Hair
This isn’t a problem if you’ve got a full head hair tattoo. But those people who have camouflaged specific areas of the head cannot grow their hair too long without drawing attention to the tattoos. This is especially so if the size of the hair tattoo is large. In such a case, it is better to go with a hair transplant surgery so that your hair can evenly grow together.
When you Want Permanence and Stability
With hair transplant surgery, you get permanent, natural, and lifelong results. You’ll have to get your tattoo retouched after a few years. Depending on the quality of the pigment, it can vary. Your tattoo will start to fade over time. With hair transplant, you do not need to renew your hair after every few years unless you have patchy areas. Your natural hair in transplant surgery will continue to grow, but this will not occur in the case of a hair tattoo.
Can You Get Both Hair Tattoo and Hair Transplant?
Yes. You can get hair restoration surgery done in an area which has a hair tattoo. It doesn’t have any side effects. You can also get a hair tattoo after getting hair transplant surgery. However, we do not recommend that. Hair transplant surgery is more expensive than a hair tattoo. But in Turkey, hair restoration surgery is quite affordable. Moreover, it is a safer procedure than scalp micro-pigmentation.
What Are Some Risks in Getting a Hair Tattoo?
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the inks used for intradermal tattoos are cosmetics. It states that “consumers should be aware of the risks involved in order to make an informed decision.” Whenever there is a safety problem with a cosmetic, which includes tattoo ink, they will investigate and take action for consumer protection. Pigments in inks are colour additives, which are subject to premarket approval under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, according to their website. Still, importantly, you should know that they state that due to other competing public health priorities and lack of evidence regarding any safety issues of the pigments in inks, FDA does not regulate the colour additives of pigments in tattoo inks.
Common risks include infections and allergies. Moreover, one cannot be sure about the long-term effects of these inks on the person’s health. The purpose of these tattoos is to simply cover certain things such as baldness, scars, etc.
Hair tattooing provides a temporary, faster solution to hair loss. The biggest benefit it provides is to those patients who cannot undergo a traditional hair transplant because of their donor area. You’ll always have a shaved head look with this method. In a hair transplant surgery, we’ll shave your hair initially, but it’ll grow. After a year of the recovery period, you don’t have to look back. Hair tattoo will fade away. It can even change colour if the quality of the ink isn’t that good. You’ll have to be more careful about going out in the sun. Nothing beats the permanent results of hair transplant surgery. Therefore, we will recommend surgery over a hair tattoo whenever the option’s available.
You also have to make sure to find the right practitioner. Otherwise, you will end up with unnatural looking “hair” on the scalp. It will draw even more attention. If there are any questions that you have, you can always reach out to our patient consultants by booking an online consultation.