So what is scalp micropigmentation?

Scalp micropigmentation, or SMP for short, is the process of pigmenting the scalp to make it look like you have a real head of shaved hair. 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.
smp how does it work

Does it look realistic?

When applied by a skilled specialist SMP can look extremely realistic, no doubt about it. The extent to which real hair dots can be replicated is quite astonishing actually, so it is easy to understand how scalp micropigmentation has grown in popularity so rapidly.

The most important considerations are the design of the hairline (as this is easily the most noticeable area of ‘hair’, and the shade and density match where the pigmented area meets the hair. Different companies use different methods but ultimately for maximum realism, the hair must match the pigment dots as closely as possible.

How does the scalp pigmentation process work?

Generally speaking, SMP treatments can be completed in 6-10 hours split over 3-4 separate sessions. The actual time required can vary considerably depending on the style you require, the extent of your balding and the size of your head, as well as other factors such as your rate of pigment fade. More on this in a moment.

Before treatment can commence, it is important that the practitioner or clinician fully understands your requirements. To this end, a discussion usually takes place during a meeting or consultation to decide on the hairline shape and position, your required density and shade and a host of other specifications.

Pigment dots are layered over several sessions to gradually increase the density and darkness until the correct blend is achieved. The equipment used varies from place to place, but ultimately involves the use of a specialist pigment ‘gun’ and needle.

After each session the patient is required to keep their head dry and refrain from washing or shaving it for a period of around five days. After a week or so, another session can be applied if required. Between each session, the pigments from the previous session settle and the skin heals, and so the dots become softer, lighter and less distinct, and any redness or bruising subsides.

How does fading influence the treatment?

When each dot is applied, it creates a tiny wound in the skin that scabs over in order to heal itself, with the pigment deposit held underneath. As the scabs fall away, they take with them a portion of the pigment. In addition to this, the pigments are attacked by the immune system and subsequently shrink.

These two factors result in a shrinking and lightening of the dots, most noticeable during the first few weeks after a treatment session. This gradual fading differs from person to person, so it is therefore necessary to apply an SMP treatment over a number of sessions so that the required pigment shade, dot size and density can be correctly judged.

For these reasons, your personal rate and extent of fading doesn’t really influence the final result, but it can impact on the number of sessions you require to complete your transformation.

smp how does it work
smp how does it work

Does it hurt?

Most people describe the process as uncomfortable, although not necessarily painful. The sensation is not dissimilar to that experienced whilst having a tattoo, although the discomfort is more of a pulse than a constant. Scalp Shop SA uses a numbing cream to make sure clients are comfortable.

Painkillers such as codeine, paracetamol, and ibuprofen may help, although a positive state of mind and a can-do attitude are likely to have a much more therapeutic effect. Certainly, the sensation is nowhere near as painful as a hair transplant procedure, for example.

How much does SMP cost?

A full scalp micropigmentation treatment generally costs around $1,000-3,500 depending on the city. Some companies charge per session, others per hour and some offer fixed pricing. Scalp Shop SA offers a free, no obligation, no pressure consultation to see if SMP is right for you and if it will fit into your budget.

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