While hair transplant technology had come on leaps and bounds in recent years, it isn’t always the ideal solution for some cases of hair thinning or loss. For this reason, a number of alternatives are being introduced as treatments or solutions and scalp micropigmentation has become a common choice amongst both men and women. Offering the illusion of increased density for those with thinning hair or a stronger hairline for those that may currently be experiencing receding, this particular treatment is a non-invasive alternative that has been used as both a solo procedure, as well a complimentary treatment for other hair loss solutions.
Through the application of natural pigments across the scalp, this procedure has made it possible to regain fuller-looking hair without the need for a healthy donor site as with a hair transplant. For this reason, it has become an alternative option for those who either have limited healthy follicles to harvest or whose hair loss may be temporary. We’re looking into this solution in more detail, here.
What Is Scalp Micropigmentation And How Does It Work?
Utilising a method not too dissimilar to that of tattooing, scalp micropigmentation offers a non-surgical hair-loss solution for those seeking the look of a closely-shaved scalp or of higher density in thinning areas of their hair. This cosmetic procedure offers permanent results that are natural and ensure the optical illusion of thicker hair even when it may be thinning at the temples, or from the crown of the head.
When opting for a ‘hair tattoo’, a trained practitioner will craft thousands of tiny impressions across the scalp. These ‘dots’ of pigment will mimic the patient’s natural hair follicles in both size and colour. The use of different pressures, different pigments and different sizes of needle each play a part in producing well-defined results, whether simply on the hairline or across the entire scalp.
Ahead of the appointment, you will usually meet with the practitioner in order to discuss what you’re looking for from the procedure. From this information, they will then be able to determine how many sessions you are likely to need. Most patients looking for a more defined hairline could only need a single session, while those looking for SMP across the entire head, either to recreate the illusion of a buzzcut or for the appearance of a higher density, could need upwards of two or three sessions.
They will also be able to determine the likely tools and techniques they will need to utilise to produce the best results and whether scalp micropigmentation is the best solution for your case. In order to produce results that appear natural for any client, each technician is trained in determining which pigments, needle sizes and more are required. They will take into consideration your age, skin colour, lifestyle and your current level of hair loss in order to adapt the treatment and produce natural, blended results.
Following the procedure, you will be required to care for your scalp in a similar way to a tattoo. The dots of pigment will require regular cleaning and will scab over as they heal. These scabs will fall off naturally but, in some cases, the pigment underneath may appear faded. This is rare but can often be remedied by a follow-up session. Some clinics may include this follow-up as part of the initial cost.
Is Scalp Micropigmentation Painful?
The process of applying the spots of pigment may be experienced differently for every patient. While some patients report the sensation being similar to the tugging of hair, others may experience more discomfort or pain and so it’s difficult to determine whether the procedure will be painful from the offset.
In some cases, it may be possible to take measures to reduce the discomfort with numbing creams, but this isn’t often necessary. In a similar way to a tattoo, you will be able to request breaks throughout the treatment to prevent elongated periods of discomfort and some clinics will do the treatment in sessions as standard to help reduce this further.
Which Is Better – Scalp Micropigmentation Or A Hair Transplant?
When comparing Scalp Micropigmentation and hair transplants, it’s first important to understand that they are entirely different procedures that offer different results dependant on the solution you are seeking. An FUE or FUT transplant can offer you replenished hair growth at the thinning or balding site, while SMP offers the permanent illusion of a shaved head or higher density for those with dispersed thinning. For this reason, each procedure may benefit different patients for different reasons.
FUE and FUT transplants feature the extraction – or harvesting – of healthy hair follicles from a donor area on the scalp, which is then transplanted into the location of thinning or balding using small incisions.
FUT (Follicular Unit Transplantation) is the more traditional method of hair transplant, though isn’t widely used today due to the fact that it leaves a scar at the donor site. This method features taking a strip of skin from the back of the head, from which the follicles are then dissected.
FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction) is the modern alternative, which sees the follicles extracted one by one using a circular punch tool, preventing the need for the removal of any skin and, as a result, features no scarring. This method offers precise extraction and implantation, with minimal, if any downtime.
You’ll typically see the results of a hair transplant within 12 months of your hair transplant, with the hair growing enough to cut and style by this point. Hair transplants offer an incredibly natural solution for those with pattern baldness or more predictable cases of alopecia, in which hair density can be restored completely.
However, in some cases a hair transplant may not be possible; for example, hair transplants aren’t ideal for those with unpredictable hair loss patterns, with temporary hair loss, advanced baldness or for those seeking instant results. If you find yourself ineligible for a hair transplant, SMP could provide satisfactory results.
Both hair transplants and scalp micropigmentation are permanent solutions, but SMP holds its own as a hair loss solution, not least due to the fact it offers instant results that will heal and settle within just 2-4 weeks. SMP has lent itself to be an ideal treatment for those with hair loss that may have advanced beyond the point in which a hair transplant could be considered an option. Without a healthy donor site, a hair transplant can’t take place but with a ‘hair tattoo’, patients can see natural results regardless of the stage of their hair loss.
With scalp micropigmentation, a high density is made entirely possible simply by creating more ‘dots’ of pigment to mimic hair follicles and so for those with limited healthy hairs to extract and implant, it can act as an effective complementary treatment. The optical illusion of density can be created with scalp micropigmentation, while the benefits of a hair transplant can still be reaped.
For the reasons above, neither SMP or FUE or FUT are better than one another and instead each offers their own benefits. If you are unsure if you would benefit from a hair transplant, you can speak to a member of our team and book your free, no-obligation consultation at our London clinic. While we do not offer scalp micropigmentation here at Longevita, we can advise you on the best course of action for your particular case.
Am I Eligible For Scalp Micropigmentation?
While there are very few cases where scalp micropigmentation may not be possible, there are a number of factors to consider ahead of your treatment that you can discuss with the technician. They will be able to adapt their technique in order to cater for this. Some factors to take note of include:
- Age – While age doesn’t directly affect the results, it can play a part in the elasticity of your scalp, the pigmentation required and, on a simpler note, the clinics you can visit. Most clinics operate a minimum age of 18, though some may require you to be 21 or above.
- Hair Type – The colour of your natural hair can have an effect on the result of scalp micropigmentation, though typically the colour of the follicle will appear dark and so matching the pigment is simple on short or cropped cuts.
- Skin Colour – The colour of your skin won’t affect whether you are eligible for a hair transplant, however, it is another factor that will need to be taken into consideration when choosing pigments for the ‘dots’.
- Lifestyle – Do you spend a lot of time in the sun or do you have an exceedingly busy lifestyle? If the answer to either of the above is ‘yes’, then talking to the practitioner ahead of the treatment will ensure you fully understand any aftercare treatment and whether this will suit your lifestyle before undergoing the treatment.
- Scarring – Scalp micropigmentation is often used as a cover-up for scars on the head, including that of previous FUT treatments. By carefully choosing the pigments and density in these scarred areas, your practitioner can help to reduce the visibility of the scars overall.
Why Might I Opt For A Scalp Micropigmentation?
Each patient will have their own reason for getting a ‘hair tattoo’, but some of the most common include:
- Soft Hairline – Patients with thinning, shaved or balding heads can create the effect of a fuller hairline through SMP.
- Density – Patients suffering from diffused hair loss can benefit from carefully-matched pigment across their scalp in order to produce the look of increased density.
- Edge-Up – In a similar way to the ‘soft hairline’, scalp micropigmentation can provide patients with a more strongly defined hairline in order to tidy up the edges of their hair. It offers a more modern look that is currently trending within the industry.
- Hair Transplant Enhancement – Those who have already had a hair transplant may benefit from SMP alongside their transplant in order to create a more enhanced result.
Will The Results Require Maintenance?
Following the treatment, you will have aftercare instructions to follow for the first few weeks but after your scalp has healed, the results are relatively low-maintenance. Much like a typical tattoo, the only long-term care you may need to consider will be keeping on top of a good skincare routine and ensuring it is protected from the sun. You will be given full advice for aftercare and guidance for maintaining the results for an optimum period of time.
The pigment on your scalp may fade over time and could need ‘touching-up’ but these are often occasional and may not affect every person. This can ultimately depend on your lifestyle, your skin type and how well you take care of your head following the procedure. Those who have opted for SMP as a solution for balding may find they need more frequent top-ups than those who have utilised it alongside a hair transplant.
Can Scalp Micropigmentation Results Be Altered?
If you are unhappy with the results of a scalp micropigmentation, you can undergo a certain level of alteration later down the line. This could include anything from increasing or decreasing density, changing the style of the hairline, darkening or lightening the appearance of the pigments and the alteration you desire may affect whether it is possible. Typically, removal or fading of pigment will be done by laser by a qualified professional, but this can be costly and so it’s important to ensure that you are certain about the procedure before you agree to the initial sessions.
While Longevita does not currently offer scalp micropigmentation, this procedure can complement a hair transplant to enhance the final result. For more information as to whether you are eligible for a hair transplant or how SMP can compliment your transplant, get in touch with a member of our team, today.