Hair loss can affect your confidence in so many ways. With so many hair loss treatment options out there, most of these treatment options take weeks or even months for visible results to appear, which makes them non-ideal for you.
If you have been in search of a quick solution to your hair loss, then the most recommended solution would have been scalp micro-pigmentation. And we are guessing you are wondering what this process is about and whether it works well for all hair loss conditions.
Well, worry no more, because, in this post, we will walk you through all that you need to know about SMP and how to take care of yourself before and after your session.
So, without wasting any of your precious time; let's dive into it.
What Is Scalp Micropigmentation?
Scalp micro-pigmentation is a technique used to increase the density of your hair by tattooing pigments on the scalp that looks exactly like your natural hair color and hair follicle. Scalp micro-pigmentation or SMP creates a camouflage of your hair to give the illusion that you have thicker and stronger hair. Some experts say that the perforation of the needle from an SMP procedure can stimulate hair growth.
Scalp micro-pigmentation can be used to treat a wide variety of scalp and hair issues. Some of which include:
- Male pattern baldness
- Receding hairlines
- Hair thinning
- Scars from hair transplants
How Does Scalp Micropigmentation Work?
The way an SMP is performed is quite different from how a traditional tattoo is done. SMP uses different tools, needles, and pigments and this makes the process quite different from that of a traditional tattoo.
The SMP Process:
The SMP process is simple. It involves using a coil machine to deposit pigments to the dermal layer of the scalp. This process is done to replicate the hair follicles which gives you that buzz haircut or a dense appearance. There is a wide range of pigment shades to match any skin tone.
You will be required to undergo three or two sessions between 45 minutes to two hours per session. The sessions are required to ensure that you have the right hair density and consistency. These sessions are spaced out between a 7-day healing interval, and the time needed for each session is decreased for each successive session.
So, the first session might take the practitioner maximum of 4 hours to complete the scalp. The second session should take between 45 minutes to an hour to complete the session. And the final session, if necessary, should take 20 to 30 minutes to be completed.
Before the procedure starts, the practitioner will adjust the speed and depth of the coil gun. The speed is adjusted depending on the thickness of your scalp.
Depending on the skin tone, and color of your hair, the practitioner will then mix the various shades of pigments to get the perfect color that matches your skin tone and color of the follicle. Once, the mixture is done, the practitioner will test the color combination against your skin, to ensure that the color perfectly blends or matches your skin color.
Once, the color choice is right, the practitioner then tests the thickness of your skin to pick the appropriate needle for the procedure. However, the needle used during the second procedure (5RL) is much larger.
The Penetration Depth
The skin composes of three main layers. These are the epidermis, the dermis, and the hypodermis.
- The epidermis is the area we see, the epidermis is the protective layer of the skin that covers the dermis and hypodermis.
- The dermis is the area below the epidermis, and this is the part crucial to dermatologists. This is because the dermis is where all the hair follicles are found, together with sebaceous glands and the nerves.
- The final layer of the skin is the hypodermis or subcutaneous layer, and this is the area where all the nerves and follicles are rooted.
So, with an SMP, the pigments are deposited into the dermis, the practitioner doesn't get to the hypodermis. Even though the dermis is the area where the pigment will deposit, the practitioner will have to ensure that they get the sweet spot to prevent the needle from going deeper. These complications can range from dermal staining, pigment migration, which is commonly seen in traditional tattoos.
The main difference between a traditional tattoo and scalp micro-pigmentation is that traditional tattoos tend to go deeper into the dermis than a traditional tattoo.
The pigment used in SMP is deposited in the top layer of the dermis, called the papillary dermis. This is done to ensure the longevity of the pigment. If the pigment is deposited on the epidermis, it wouldn't last long and would fade away in a few months. This is because the epidermis is susceptible to sunlight and it is constantly been shredded off.
So, this is why the pigment is deposited in the dermis and not the epidermis. And the pigment is deposited in the papillary dermis to prevent any migrating pigment.
The Coil Machine:
Another difference between an SMP and a tattoo is the coil machine used. A traditional tattoo coil machine is larger and heavier than the coil machine used for an SMP. The coil machine used for SMP is quieter because there is no motor in the pen. Another major difference is that with an SMP coil machine, the practitioner presets the depth of the needle before use, while in a traditional tattoo coil gun, the depth at which the needle pierces the skin is solely dependent on the pressure the artist puts on the coil.
So, generally, the expertise needed to control an SMP coil machine and a tattoo coil machine is different.
The next difference between a traditional tattoo and an SMP is the needle. The needle used in both cases is quite different. The needle used in a traditional coil machine is generally larger and longer (about 75% larger) than that used in an SMP. The needle used during an SMP is referred to as a "3-point-micro-needle." The needle is made this small to ensure that it can imitate the hair follicle.
The 3-point-micro-needle or round liner or 3RL is a type of needle that has three-needle points, and this is done to prevent a blowout. A blowout occurs when a practitioner or a tattoo artist applies too much pressure and goes too deep into the skin. The 3RL needle is also used to imitate or replicate a realistic look of a hair follicle.
The 3-RL is used usually for the first procedure; however, during the second session, the needle is changed to a larger 5RL needle.
The final difference between an SMP and a traditional tattoo is the pigment. Usually, the pigment of a traditional tattoo is made such that additives can be added to achieve a wide variety of colors. The pigment of an SMP is created such that the color spectrum is the same as that of a specific hair follicle color.
In terms of structure, the pigment used in a traditional tattoo procedure is made from organic carbon molecules, while those used for an SMP procedure are made from iron oxide molecules. Iron oxide is considered some of the safest and most stable pigment components out there, which is why it is used for a traditional tattoo. Another reason why iron-oxide is used is that they last longer and heal faster than organic carbon pigments.
The SMP Sessions:
As stated earlier, the SMP procedure is done in three sessions, and this is usually due to three main reasons. These reasons include:
- Safety: During your first session, the practitioner doesn't want to overstress the scalp by perforating it for hours. We want to make sure that we do not stress the skin. In addition, we want to see how well your skin holds on to pigments. This ensures that the practitioner doesn't add too much density or too much color to the scalp. So, the first session is just to see how acquainted you've gotten with the procedure.
- Control: Multiple sessions give you the flexibility to choose the outcome of the session. You can make some adjustments during your second session if the first session didn't go as you thought. For example, if you feel like certain places do not have enough SMP density, the practitioner can correct that.
- Good Outcome: The final reason why multiple sessions are important is to make sure that we have a good outcome. Many variables affect the skin, so, the follow-ups help the practitioners determine what adjustments need to be made for a better result.
Can Scalp Micropigmentation Work For Long Hair?
From the information above, you might think that SMP, works only for shorter hair; however, that isn't the case. SMP works perfectly for both short and long hair. And in this section, we will take a look at some of the use cases of SMP for long hair.
SMP doesn't only work for bald heads but also, for long hairs. It is a hair loss tool that works great for almost every hair type, and it works great for most types of long hair that need to be filled.
Some long hair conditions that SMP works great for are if you have FUE scars from a hair transplant. Or maybe if you have specific spots that need to be filled out (except alopecia areata), SMP treatment would work great for those situations by covering those spots or scars up. Also, if you have long hair that is experiencing thinning or maybe if you've lost some volume, an SMP will help you cover that.
The treatment option available for these types of conditions is a density filling treatment. With a density treatment or fill, the practitioner fills your hair with an additional SMP layer to make your hair appear thicker and denser. A density treatment makes your long hair look richer, thicker and bridges the contrast gap between your scalp and hair.
That been said, there are certain long hair conditions that SMP wouldn't be ideal for. For example, if you have long hair, however, you have shredded so much hair at the crown or the back of your head, or if you have a receding frontal hairline, then the density filling treatment wouldn't be ideal for you. With conditions like this, you will be required to cut your hair short for SMP to be effective. The truth is, the practitioner may fill out the hair in these conditions; however, it wouldn't look natural. However, in these conditions, it will be great to shave your hair before the SMP procedure is done.
If you have any doubts about any of the conditions above, do not hesitate to give us a call, and we will be happy to discuss this with you.
How Do I Prepare For A Scalp Micropigmentation?
Before going in for your SMP, there are certain things you would have to do to help you have a smooth session. Here are some tips below:
1.Moisturize Your Scalp
Before the procedure, you want to make sure that you moisturize your scalp days or weeks before the treatment. You can do this once a day or twice a day. Moisturizing your hair with non-irritating fragrance-free soaps keeps it from getting dry, and this makes it easy for the needle to penetrate your scalp. Dry skin would cause the needle to bounce off without penetrating the skin, so, you want to make sure that your hair is moisturized. It also ensures that you do not feel much pain during the process.
2.Avoid Any Hair Growth Product
If you are using any hair growth product, you want to make sure that you stop using them at least 48 hours before the session. This includes minoxidil (rogaine), Toppik, or any other hair enhancement product. Avoiding these items gives the skin some breathing room by cleaning the skin to make it easier for the practitioner to work on.
3.Cut Your Hair Before.
If you aren't going in for any of the long hair treatments mentioned above, then you must shave your hair days before the procedure. The shorter the hair, the more realistic the session will make your hair appear. Shorter hair also makes it easy and faster for the practitioner to work on your hair.
If you do not have experience cutting your hair, do not worry, we can get that handled for you. That being said, we do not recommend that you cut your hair on the day of the procedure, this will cause your follicles to be open, which can lead to redness of the scalp during the procedure.
4.Avoid Alcohol Or Coffee
You must avoid any substance that thins your blood. Substances like alcohol, caffeine, and energy drinks cause your blood pressure levels to rise and thins your blood. This can lead to bleeding during the session, which is something you want to avoid. During the bleeding, the pigments get mixed with the blood, and this can affect the quality of the dots because the pigment gets diluted with blood. Usually, we recommend you avoid these substances 24 hours before your treatment.
5.Eat, Eat, Eatttt
I cannot stress this enough. You must stuff your belly up with some food on the day of treatment. This ensures that you have the energy to go through the procedure. Do not forget, the first procedure can last between 2 to 4 hours, so you want to make sure that you are filled up to get through these times.
Not eating or fasting before the procedure isn't recommended because your blood sugar will drop, and the procedure is tiring. These two combined can cause you to feel dizzy which can slow down the work or even cause some jeopardy.
What To Do After A Scalp Micropigemnetation session
Once you have your session done, there are measures you can put in place to ensure that you recover quickly and that your pigmentation stays longer.
As stated earlier, there are three stages of each SMP session, and these are:
i.The First Appointment
The first appointment is where the groundwork begins, such as reconstructing your headline or focusing on the areas that need attention. After this procedure, you will have 7 days of healing time. This allows the scalp to heal and helps the practitioner visualize how well your skin reacted to the procedure.
Once, you are done with an SMP session (usually the first two), we recommend you stay away from any lakes, sea, swimming pool, or water body. These water bodies usually have chlorine which can cause the treatment to fade.
Also, during the first four days after each session, we advise that you stay away from any environment that is prone to bacteria. This includes again, water bodies, hot tubs, or even the gym. These areas are prone to MRSA and can lead to a boil or pimple forming around the scalp.
2.Wash Your Hair After Four Days
We highly advise that you avoid washing your hair with any shampoos or conditioners during the first four healing days of the first two sessions. Once that period is over, you can go ahead and wash your hair with shampoo and warm water. Washing your hair immediately after the procedure can disrupt the healing process.
Also, when washing your hair after the 4 days, you want to avoid any product that contains cetyl alcohol. Cetyl alcohol is known to cause redness, irritation, and burning of the skin, and since your skin is healing from being perforated, acetyl alcohol products can worsen the situation.
3.Avoid Alcohol-based Shampoos
Ensure that you take proper care and wash your hair gently. This is because, when the pigment is deposited into the scalp, scabs are formed. So, when you are rough when washing your skin (especially after the four days), you can cause the scab to fall off which in turn disrupts the placement of the pigment.
4.Avoid The Sun If Possible
The last tip is to cover your head with a hat or even avoiding the sun if possible. The UV rays from the sun can alter or destroy the SMP when your scalp is exposed to the sun for longer periods. The UV rays are notorious for fading all pigmentations even for traditional tattoos. So, it is important that you do yourself a favor and then stay away from the sun as much as possible.
You can use sunscreens to shield the effect of the sun on your head or stay indoors.
You must avoid the sun as much as possible for your SMP to last longer. However, whenever you feel like your pigmentation is fading, you can go in for a touch-up. Scalp micropigmentation works great for both long and short hair; however, we highly recommend you book a consultation with us to help us brief you on what to expect from either short hair or long hair. This procedure has zero downtime, and once, the session is done, no one will notice that you had session.
Looking For A Trusted SMP Practitioner In Liverpool?
SMP Liverpool provides outstanding results for those suffering from male and female pattern hair loss, in addition to alopecia and scarring.
Founded by head technician Craig Molyneux, SMP Liverpool is the perfect choice for your SMP procedure. He accumulated a wealth of experience and expertise through his 10 years working in Liverpool's best barber's, in addition to training with leading practitioners in the SMP industry. Each client is treated with care and respect, with every procedure tailored to the specific needs of the individual. Contact us by giving us a call or sending us an email and we will be glad to be at your service.