Scalp Micropigmentation & Hair Transplantation – Pearls and Pitfalls

Hopefully if you’re reading this article, you will already know what Scalp Micropigmentation (SMP) is, but here’s a little recap just in case.  Scalp Micropigmentation is a non-surgical procedure where specialised needles are used to implant coloured pigments/inks into the scalp, face or body.  The treatment is used to replicate a hair coming out of the skin, to create densification or to camouflage hair loss.  SMP is available in both permanent and semi-permanent implantation techniques, depending on patient requirements. 

This article is looking at the pearls and pitfalls of SMP, with a focus on how it works with Hair Transplantation procedures.  One pearl of Scalp Micropigmentation is that it is an effective solution for an extensive range of hair loss conditions, from male and female pattern baldness to transplantation scarring. The list is endless.  The real pearl of the treatment, from a hair loss specialist persepctive is its ability to work in combination with, and to enhance, other hair loss solutions from growth stimulating treatments to hair restoration (FUT and FUE) procedures, giving the ultimate finishing touch, but that it is also a versatile stand-alone option.

Let’s look in more detail at how SMP works with surgery; although the majority of well executed FUT and FUE procedures result in easily concealed scars, increasingly SMP practitioners are treating clients post-transplant with SMP scar camouflage.  The saying goes that there is no such thing as scarless surgery. Effectively camouflaged scars enable patients to wear their hair shaved or short with confidence.  An increase of 40%, in the past six months, has been seen in post hair restoration patients seeking a combined solution with SMP, with some surgeons choosing to incorporate the SMP into the treatment plan for some cases. 

One hair transplant surgeon who works closely with us here at FT Clinic referred to our SMP treatments in combo with their FUE/FUT surgery as creating ‘undetectable perfection.’  A statement we loved to hear! 

The treatment is now so realistic, when carried out by the right practitioner, it can give men and women instant, natural, confidence boosting results.  For those who are unsuitable for transplantation it can sometimes be the only long-term solution.  By offering SMP to their clients’, hair restoration clinics are ensuring every choice possible is available for their patients. 

Female patients, who are less likely to consider a transplant or convert from consultation, are looking to SMP as a solution in increasing numbers.  Female patients have increased by over 30% in the last 12 months.  Once considered a male dominated procedure, SMP is now seeing female clients tipping the scale. One reason for this is that a true pearl of SMP is the ability to add the illusion of density to thinning hair with a minimally invasive and almost instantly effective treatment.  In combination with surgery this offers an opportunity for ‘density boosting’ treatments within the recipient site of the transplanted hair, when perhaps there wasn’t a sufficient number of donor hairs or over time non-transplanted hair has been lost.

One of the pitfalls of SMP is the industry being a victim of its own success, with a recent influx of ‘see one, do one, teach one’ training providers creating practitioners without the best possible start to their careers, offering less than reasonable treatment results.  It is fair to say some training providers have great skill, but the lack of experience leads to a potential inability to execute or facilitate a complete and comprehensive training programme.  Newly trained practitioners can then be left without follow on support and essential core knowledge other than treatment protocols, not understanding the skin and the natural healing process. 

A poorly applied treatment will soon become more distressing for the patient than their previous hair loss, with ‘merging and migration’ implantations ceasing to look natural and effective.  Quality training combined with a willingness to gain experience and build your skill is essential with SMP, when applied correctly it is often life changing. 

It's truly great that SMP is now more commonly known as an effective hair loss solution, with more practitioners there is now more choice for those looking for a treatment.  The best advice is to choose your practitioner to suit you, not only someone with experience but that will work safely.  You want a ‘pearl’ of a treatment and not to fall foul of the ‘pitfall’.

The biggest pitfall of SMP is the removal process, currently only laser will effectively remove a permanent SMP treatment with other methods, such as salt and saline, only lightening the pigment.  Removal can be costly and uncomfortable.

SMP is now widely known and offered within the hair restoration industry, due to it being a perfect add-on procedure to their treatment portfolio giving clients the ultimate result.  With both longer-term permanent inks and more temporarily effective semi-permanent pigments available, this minimally invasive treatment offers something to many.  Patients with previous surgery can really benefit from SMP to add density, conceal scars and give ‘life’ back to their previous results.

The true ‘pearl’ of SMP is the smile we can put on your face when you see the results building, the reaction to the ‘reveal’ and the change we can help make to your hair confidence.  SMP = more than just implanting ink! 

 If you’re thinking about SMP, either in combination with surgery or as a stand-alone treatment then please get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.