Hair loss is a common problem that affects both men and women. Around 40 percent of men will experience some kind of hair loss by the time they’re 49, and some will experience extensive hair loss. There are dozens of solutions for hair loss that work for some and don’t work for others. So it can be hard to know which treatments are best for you. One treatment that offers an innovative solution and long-term fix for balding is scalp micropigmentation, sometimes called a “hairline tattoo” or “scalp tattoo.” Read on to learn who scalp micropigmentation is for, how much it costs, how the process works, and what results can be expected.
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What is scalp micropigmentation?
Scalp micropigmentation (SMP) is an advanced cosmetic process in which a trained technician uses micro-needles to insert pigment into the hair follicles. The hair pigmentation will create the appearance of a natural, shaved head of hair. Usually, the course of an SMP treatment looks like the following:
During an initial consultation, technicians will determine the right shade of pigment and what kind of hairline you want.
After that comes the first treatment. The pigment will be applied in each follicle, which can irritate the skin and forms scabs. The scalp will appear red at first, but that fades in a few days. Scabs typically fall off within four days to reveal a light layer of pigment.
The second treatment is usually a week or two later. More pigment will be inserted to create the desired color and increase density. A darker shade is usually used during this phase. It will be the last opportunity to make any requests or ask any more questions about your SMP. Each round of treatment takes between three and five hours.
Sometimes there is a third treatment, if necessary. Some practitioners require a third treatment and others only recommend it if the pigment seems to be fading. If there is a third treatment, the pigment will be applied again to create a finished look.
Scalp micropigmentation results
For most men, scalp micropigmentation results in the appearance of a freshly shaved head. The hairline can vary based on your natural hair pattern, but usually it can be whatever you want, including something youthful like the “edge-up.” The shaved appearance of scalp micropigmentation mimics real hair; no one will know that it is a hairline tattoo.
Some men and most women don’t want a freshly shaved look and prefer to use scalp micropigmentation for increasing hair density. The technicians can use the microneedles to insert pigment between strands of hair to create the look of thicker hair for those who have thinning hair. Scalp micropigmentation can also be used to cover scars on the scalp that stem from hair transplant surgery or an accident. The pigment can be inserted along and around the scar for realistic and stunning results. The scars will be invisible beneath the hair pigmentation.
The best scalp micropigmentation candidates
The best candidates for scalp micropigmentation are those who are balding. Scalp micropigmentation can overcome the negative effects of balding with a freshly shaved look. The process is also recommended for men and women with thinning hair who want the appearance of higher hair density. People who are non-candidates for hair transplants might find scalp micropigmentation to be an excellent solution.
Those who wish to conceal scars, burns, or birthmarks on the scalp are excellent candidates for scalp micropigmentation as well. The process can make those kinds scalp marks practically invisible. People who suffer from alopecia can also use scalp micropigmentation as a permanent solution instead of hair transplants or wigs.
How much does scalp micropigmentation cost?
The most important aspect for scalp micropigmentation costs is that the process is cheaper than hair transplants and many other long-lasting hair loss treatments. The total scalp micropigmentation cost will depend on the practitioner and the extent of the treatment. Cost estimates range from $1,800 to $4,000 for a typical treatment for balding. Meanwhile, scar treatment can run less—between $1,200 to $2,500—since it is usually covering less area. But considering that hair pigmentation is permanent, the process is still seen as a cost-effective treatment for hair loss.
Does scalp micropigmentation work?
Scalp micropigmentation is permanent, much like a regular tattoo. That being said, the pigment can begin to fade after three to five years and may need to be touched up every five years or so. This often depends on the quality of the initial treatment, so it is worth researching and taking time to find a highly-qualified company or practitioner.
The high-quality treatments will look completely natural and last for many years, while some of the low-quality practitioners can leave your scalp looking unnatural—and you might find your pigment fading after only a few months. If you have already had scalp micropigmentation and it is low-quality, many of the high-quality practitioners will repair it for an additional cost.
Scalp micropigmentation downsides
There are many benefits to scalp micropigmentation, but there are some downsides, like with any treatment.
- It is somewhat permanent. While some view this as an advantage, it could potentially be a downside, too. The hairline will have to be changed with lasers if you decide you don’t like it. Also, SMP requires laser removal if you change your mind about the entire process.
- The pigment can fade. UV rays from the sun can cause faster fading. However, there are ways to protect your SMP treatment from the sun.
- Your head will still be smooth. Though SMP hair has a completely natural appearance, it is just pigment inserted into the skin and therefore lacks the texture of real hair (or, in most cases, a buzzcut).
- It offers limited hairstyle options. Unless you use SMP to conceal a scar or to add density, the optimal appearance will look best with a shaved head. Most men who do scalp micropigmentation will have to keep their hair very short or completely shaved, and it can be a hassle to have to shave often.
The bottom line on scalp micropigmentation
Scalp micropigmentation is a cost-effective and permanent solution to hair loss and thinning. By having pigment inserted into your skin, you can have the permanent appearance of a full head of hair—just shaved. The treatment isn’t for everyone, though: the cost isn’t cheap and it can be annoying to have to shave your head frequently. Most practitioners who perform this treatment offer free consultations. Typically the practitioner will walk you through the process, outline the cost, and possibly show a virtual display of what you will look like afterwards. So if you’re interested in scalp micropigmentation, look into a free consultation to see if SMP is the solution for your hair loss and thinning.