Androgenic alopecia (AGA; pattern hair loss) can be a difficult condition to overcome.
Unfortunately we still do not have a full proof treatment for it. Although there are several treatment options available such as finasteride, minoxidil, LLLT, and others that have been shown to be effective, how effective they are depends entirely on the individual's response.
Some people respond very well to one treatment and may be able to stop and/or reverse their hair loss with very minimal effort, and there are also people who try any and every treatment option they can think of and still do not get any results.
Many people who do not have luck with any traditional treatments often turn to surgical options like a hair transplant. While hair transplants can cartinaly be very effective, they are quite an expensive and extensive process. But, what if I told you that there was another route you can take that is not surgical but may be able to help conceal your hair loss effectively.
It is called scalp micropigmentation (SMP) and it can be highly beneficial for someone who is struggling to beat their hair loss but is not ready to take the jump to surgical options.
In this article we are going to talk about what SMP is, how it works, and the benefits that it can provide someone who is suffering from hair loss.
What is scalp micropigmentation?
“Scalp micropigmentation” is just a fancy term for a scalp tattoo. It is a cosmetic tattoo that, when done correctly, mimics the look of hair follicles.
Normally SMP is broken down into three separate sessions.
During the first session the SMP specialist will take a look at your scalp to determine what can be accomplished based on your wants/needs. The reason for this is because tattooing the scalp is an intricate process where blood vessels, glands, nerves and more need to be taken into account, and everyone's scalp is different. The SMP specialist will then create a blueprint for your new hairline/areas that need to be filled in, and once that is established they will begin tattooing a foundation for future sessions. The first session typically takes 2-3 hours.
You will likely have 2-3 more sessions after the first session, normally 4-6 weeks apart to allow for the scalp to heal, to which the SMP specialist will continue to add pigment around the hair follicles (matching the natural color of course). These sessions can last 6-8 hours so bring a good book to read!
Once a natural look is created with SMP the process is over, although just like any tattoo the SMP work is going to need filling in and touch ups in the future.
Benefits of SMP
Before we get into the benefits of SMP, it is important to note that SMP does not affect hair loss directly, it is purely a cosmetic procedure. Hair loss is caused primarily by dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and low blood flow. If you are considering undergoing an SMP procedure, you should also be using treatments that target DHT and blood flow. Even if they are not super effective (which may be what led you to consider SMP in the first place) it is best practice to use them and try and conserve as much of your hair as possible because if you do not hair loss will likely continue to worsen after the SMP procedure, meaning you may have to undergo another procedure down the line.
That being said, SMP can be a powerful tool for combatting the visual side of hair loss and there are many benefits.
For starters, compared to other surgical options the recovery time is miniscule. When you get a hair transplant for example, it can take up to a year to fully recover, whereas SMP usually takes around a month after the final session.
Another powerful benefit is that it can dramatically reduce the appearance of thinning. SMP is useful for two things: covering thinning and recreating a hairline. If you opt for the shaved look, a good SMP specialist will be able to create the illusion of a fully intact hairline. But a lot of men try to combat hair loss soas to not have to shave their head, and that is where SMP can be very beneficial.
The illusion of improved density is created because the tattoo matches the hair color and is applied right around the hair follicle. If you have thinning temples of crown, when light shines on it is when the thinning is most visible, but SMP blocks the light from reflecting and can make it appear as if you have a full head of hair. This has many benefits attached to it including improved confidence, reduced stress and anxiety, and several more.
SMP is also a great alternative to hair fibers and wigs as it is semi-permanent (just needs touch ups) meaning you don't have to worry about it getting wet or blowing away in the wind.
Important things to know about SMP
Although SMP is great, there are a few important things that you need to know:
-Depending on how many sessions you need, SMP can cost between $400-$1000 per session, although financing options are usually available
-There are potential side effects of SMP including:
-allergic reaction to the ink
-an infection from unsterile equipment (go to a trusted specialist)
-an infection from improper after care (a good specialist will give you proper instructions)
SMP can be a great option for someone who is looking for that next step in overcoming hair loss but does not want to go the surgical route.
Make sure you do your research when considering SMP to find a good specialist that will be able to give you exactly what you want whether it be covering up thinning or hairline reconstruction.