Scalp micropigmentation is an increasingly popular alternative to a hair transplant. Instead of increasing real hair density by transplanting hair into the thinning areas of your head, scalp micropigmentation (SMP) creates the illusion of density by tattooing tiny dots across the scalp.
SMP is a good choice for many patients. But some people also report having scalp micropigmentation regrets after their procedure. This can stem from lack of research, questionable clinics giving out misleading information, and choosing the wrong procedure.
In this article, we’ll outline some of the most common scalp micropigmentation regrets, and show you how to avoid them.
1. Poor scalp micropigmentation technique
As with any kind of cosmetic procedure, your technician should use the appropriate technique for SMP. If your technician has poor SMP technique, you could end up with unnatural-looking hair like this:
This patient’s SMP has quite a few problems:
- Large, blotchy droplets caused by inserting the needle too far under the skin
- Incorrect pigment colour, creating a blue tinge to the tattoos
- The pattern appears almost grid-like and overly structured
- Wonky uneven hairline looks very unnatural.
All these problems can be avoided if you choose a technician with the right skill level and technique. Proper technique includes :
- Depositing pigment at the right depth — too high and it won’t last, too deep and the results will be blotchy
- Inserting the needle at a 90° angle to the scalp surface
- Using a single-pronged needle for precision areas like the hairline
- Randomising the dot pattern to avoid a grid-like appearance
- Performing a patch test to see how your skin reacts before continuing with the full procedure.
How to avoid scalp micropigmentation regret #1:
As a patient, you can’t check if the technician will do all of the above during your own procedure. But you can see what they’ve achieved for their previous patients. View their patient gallery to see their previous results, or ask if you can speak to previous SMP patients.
You can also ask them how they prepare and perform SMP on each patient, and check this against your own research. Make sure you’re satisfied with their answers before you hand over any money.
2. Poor hairline design
Hairline design is extremely important in SMP, especially if you’re not planning to regrow your hair. The tattoo should follow your natural hairline, and fade where the hair would naturally be thinner (namely, around the sides of the temples).
In these examples, there’s zero fade around the temples, creating sharp, unnatural hairlines:
This second example is particularly bad. Most men — even those who don’t have male pattern baldness — have slight recesses at the temples. This hairline veers downwards too early, so his hairline is almost in line with his eyebrows. The sideburns are also too thick, and the pigment is too dark (more on pigment choice later).
How to avoid scalp micropigmentation regret #2:
- Check photos of your chosen clinic’s previous work. Good clinics will have a body of evidence to show they can create natural-looking hairlines.
- Find photos of natural-looking hairlines that have been achieved using SMP, and ask your SMP technician to use these as inspiration.
- Agree on an appropriate hairline with your SMP technician — they should draw on the hairline and show it to you before they start tattooing.
3. Wrong equipment
Some tattoo artists have branched out into scalp micropigmentation to cater for this growing market trend. But standard tattooing requires different equipment to SMP. SMP requires extremely fine needles — the dots should be less than 1mm in diameter . So your technician must use the right needle for this delicate procedure.
It’s good practice to use a single-pronged needle for finer areas on the scalp, such as the hairline. Up to six-pronged needles can then be used across the rest of the scalp, provided good technique guidelines are followed .
Your safety is also at risk if your technician uses the wrong needle or equipment. According to the ISHRS, there’s a chance of blood borne disease transmission if the incorrect needles are used . So make sure your chosen clinic adheres to safety standards.
How to avoid scalp micropigmentation regret #3:
- Understand why it’s important to choose a technician experienced in SMP, not just regular tattoo artistry.
- Choose a specialist hair clinic to perform your SMP.
- Check your chosen clinic is registered with and has been assessed by the Care Quality Commission.
4. Choosing the wrong SMP artist
It can be tricky to choose the right person to perform your SMP procedure. They need the skill to create a hairline that enhances your look and makes you feel confident.
But it’s important for your SMP artist to have experience as well as training. It takes a lot of experience to be able to execute the perfect technique repeatedly across your scalp. So we recommend choosing a technician with several years of SMP experience.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions about their background. As a prospective patient, you have the right to know what professional qualifications and skills the technician has before you allow them to perform your scalp micropigmentation.
How to avoid scalp micropigmentation regret #4:
- Check their patient gallery and reviews — great SMP technicians will have lots of glowing testimonials for their work.
- Have a consultation beforehand — get to know your technician and ask any questions.
- Make sure you know who your artist will be in advance. If you’re not sure, you can’t be sure of the results you’ll get.
5. Choosing the wrong pigment
SMP pigment choice is critical for a natural result. Most SMP pigments are metallic-oxide-based products. They include colour compounds that generate different tones. Your technician will help you choose and/or mix the right pigment based on your skin tone and natural hair colour.
Skin tone is often based on the Fitzpatrick scale, though in recent years dermatologists have attempted to come up with a more accurate ‘evidence-based’ scale. The Fitzpatrick scale is based on perceived colour, so different people may have different perceptions of their actual skin tone:
The Eumelanin Human Skin Colour scale, meanwhile, is based on the amount of eumelanin (a type of melanin) in a person’s skin . This makes it easier to quantify and measure without a visual comparison aid. This may allow SMP technicians to create a pigment colour that’s better suited to your skin tone.
Black pigments can end up having a blue-grey tint to them after a few months or years . Some pigments can also react with UV light, causing the colour to change over time.
How to avoid scalp micropigmentation regret #5:
- Discuss the pigment shade with your SMP technician — get advice from multiple clinics to find out the consensus for which pigment colour will best suit you.
- Manage your own expectations by understanding how pigments may fade or change over the years.
6. Scratching the itch
SMP can be itchy, especially if you have it in conjunction with a hair transplant. It’s a common side effect, but if you scratch your SMP too vigorously, you can spoil the effects.
Fortunately it’s relatively easy to avoid this potential scalp micropigmentation regret.
How to avoid scalp micropigmentation regret #6:
- Take antihistamines to reduce itchiness.
- Don’t shave your head until your scalp has healed.
- Avoid hair transplant regrets by taking care of your hair grafts after surgery.
- Wear gloves and/or a loose-fitting hat to protect your scalp during the itchy period.
7. Not getting SMP sooner
Some people love their look after SMP — and regret not getting it done sooner.
One US-based SMP patient reported, “My biggest regret was actually not coming in earlier and getting it done. I’m super excited about the results.”
That said, it’s important not to rush into your decision. Do your research, find out which hair loss solution will be best for you, then follow the steps in this article to avoid future regrets.
How to avoid scalp micropigmentation regret #7:
- Do your research — find out exactly what the procedure involves.
- Book a consultation with a few reputable clinics.
- Decide which clinic can best meet your needs, then go ahead with your SMP procedure.
8. Choosing SMP instead of a hair transplant
For some people with hair loss, SMP is the perfect solution. As this SMP patient explains, it works well if you’re used to being bald:
But for those who want more styling options, or prefer to wear their hair long, a hair transplant is a better option. Follicular unit extraction and strip surgery create genuine hair density, rather than just the illusion. So it may be a better investment in your appearance.
Other people have both. An SMP hair transplant creates the illusion of density while you wait for your new grafts to grow in. So it’s becoming more common for patients to have both. But if this seems like overkill, it’s important to make the right choice from the start, so you can save money and restore your hair as quickly and efficiently as possible.
How to avoid scalp micropigmentation regret #8:
- Learn about follicular unit extraction and follicular unit transplantation as well as SMP.
- Speak to a hair clinic that offers free, impartial advice.
- Get all the information you need to make the decision that’s right for you, saving money and time.
Book a free consultation at the Wimpole Clinic to get all the free, impartial hair restoration advice you need.
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