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Scalp Pigmentation and Hair Tattoos: Everything You Need to Know

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A possible option for minimizing noticeable hair loss is scalp pigmentation. Also known as hair tattoos or hair tattooing, scalp micropigmentation treatment helps cover bald spots and create a more balanced scalp appearance.

Though it does not give the appearance of hair, scalp micropigmentation can work well for people who are comfortable with a shaved head. Instead of dealing with patchiness, they can have a full-looking scalp that leaves them more self-confident in their daily lives.

What is scalp micropigmentation?

Scalp micropigmentation is a cosmetic treatment to conceal bald spots on the scalp. It does not restore hair, but it can help give the illusion of short hairs on the head when displayed in a buzzcut. Some people who get scalp pigmentation can also restore a greater look of fullness to their hairline through hair tattooing.

Small dots of hair-colored ink are injected into the skin, creating a permanent mark. Your practitioner will use a tattooing device that rapidly injects ink into the scalp with a small needle. The ink, known as pigment, is permanent, and it can easily restore hairlines and bald spots for men or individuals with hair loss.

It’s worth noting that scalp micropigmentation can be effective for people with all types of hair loss, including alopecia areata and male pattern baldness. It’s also one of the top thinning hair solutions for those who are comfortable cutting their hair shorter or who want to solely address a thin or receded hairline.

Who is scalp micropigmentation for?

Scalp micropigmentation is suitable for men and women who are experiencing thinning hair or hair loss. It is a cosmetic, non-surgical approach that has minimal downtime and permanent results. It can be used to restore a hairline as well as fill in bald spots caused by male or female pattern baldness, alopecia areata, or trichotillomania (hair pulling).

Some patients with scarring alopecia may also be able to receive scalp micropigmentation. It is important to work with an experienced scalp micropigmentation technician who can develop a customized treatment plan based on your needs.

The dots from scalp micropigmentation vary in size, angle, and depth. This helps restore a natural-looking hairline and may help camouflage scars from scarring alopecia or trichotillomania.

Does scalp micropigmentation grow hair?

No, scalp micropigmentation is only a cosmetic solution. It does not regrow hair. Many patients who struggle with thinning or balding hair turn to scalp micropigmentation as an alternative to hair transplants. They may have tried them in the past and found the results unsatisfactory.

A major benefit of scalp micropigmentation is that the hair tattoos are accessible to even those with total baldness. Hair transplants are only viable options for people who still have some areas of their scalp unaffected by hair loss.

An alternative to scalp pigmentation is finasteride and/or minoxidil. These medications help stimulate hair growth and can be effective for many patients. Phoenix offers prescriptions in Canada to help you combat hair loss from the comfort of home.

Procedure Details

Treatment can take one or multiple sessions depending on the size of the treatment area. Individuals who are tattooing their entire scalp will have to sit for multiple sessions with their scalp micropigmentation technician. Sessions for scalp pigmentation typically take three to five hours depending on the client.

What happens before scalp micropigmentation?

Before treatment, you will need to thoroughly wash your hair and scalp to help prevent infection. If you are bald, then when you visit your technician, they will mark the area they intend to create a new hairline, which you can approve.

Choosing a hairline involves multiple factors, such as your age and facial structure. The goal is to create a realistic hairline that suits your face and compliments your appearance. One that is too full, too low, or too high can have negative results, so take time during this process to ensure you are fully content with the intended placement and avoid future regrets.

If you still have some hair, then your technician will mark different treatment sites and get your approval before proceeding with treatment.

Before your session starts, your technician will apply a numbing cream to the scalp to prevent pain during treatment. Although they’re called hair tattoos, scalp micropigmentation dots are made with smaller, thinner needles than traditional tattoos. This makes them less painful on average than a standard tattoo.

What happens during scalp micropigmentation?

Your scalp micropigmentation technician uses medical-grade ink to create a natural hair appearance on the treatment sites. They will use hair-colored pigment that matches your natural or desired color.

What happens after scalp micropigmentation?

You can return to your usual routine almost immediately. Scalp irritation and sensitivity is normal following treatment, and you will want to avoid sun exposure, sweating, swimming pools, hot tubs, and getting your scalp wet for several days. Your technician will offer comprehensive aftercare instructions.

Many patients find that bringing a head scarf or hat is a good idea since they can easily cover their scalp after treatment.

Risks / Benefits

What are the advantages of scalp micropigmentation?

Scalp micropigmentation can restore confidence and help you feel free again. Rather than being self-conscious about your hair thinning or balding, you can feel happy with your appearance again.
Scalp micropigmentation is non-surgical, has low risks and side-effects, and is a permanent solution.

What are the risks or complications of this procedure?

Risks are minimal, but some patients can experience scalp inflammation, allergic reactions to the pigments, and dissatisfaction with their results. It is important to choose a skilled scalp micropigmentation technician who has a gallery of their results to highlight their expertise. Make sure that you feel truly confident in the technician's abilities before consenting to treatment.

Is there anyone who shouldn’t get scalp micropigmentation?

Individuals prone to keloid scars are not suitable candidates for treatment. Because the process of injecting pigment triggers the body’s inflammatory response, hair tattooing could lead to keloid formation.

Scalp micropigmentation is also not a hair loss cure — it won’t stop you from future hair loss, which may be treatable. In that case, you can try minoxidil or finasteride, the two top medications that help improve hair growth and restore fullness due to alopecia. Phoenix is the leading men’s telehealth provider in Canada. Click here to learn more about hair loss treatment options.

Recovery and Outlook

What is the recovery time after scalp micropigmentation?

Recovery takes seven to 14 days, and some patients experience longer recovery times. During this period, you will need to avoid certain activities that could increase the risk of scalp infection. These include heavy exercise, using a sauna, visiting a swimming pool, and getting your scalp wet. You will need to wear a shower cap when you bathe and keep your head dry until your technician clears you to return to your regular routine.

How long does scalp micropigmentation last?

The results of scalp micropigmentation are permanent, and they will last for decades. However, the pigment will fade with time, so you may need follow-up treatments after five to 10 years if you find some areas are less vibrant than they were before.

When to Call the Doctor

You should contact a doctor after scalp micropigmentation if you experience burning, bleeding, fever, pus or discharge, redness or swelling, or pain. They can advise you on next steps.

When should I see my healthcare provider?

You can get clearance from your doctor before meeting with a technician. Once they approve of the treatment, you can focus on how to choose a licensed scalp pigmentation technician.

Additional Common Questions

What questions should I ask my provider before scalp micropigmentation?

Be sure to ask questions such as:

  • Where did you receive your training?
  • How many treatments have you performed?
  • What are the risks of this procedure?
  • What should I do if I am unhappy with the results?
  • What should I expect from treatment?
  • How should I take care of my scalp after the procedure?

Does insurance cover scalp micropigmentation?

Because it is a cosmetic procedure, scalp micropigmentation is unlikely to be covered by insurance. You can look for providers who offer financing options to help you manage the cost of treatment.

Is scalp micropigmentation worth it?

As long as you get treatment from a licensed, skilled technician, scalp micropigmentation results can be a worthwhile investment. However, you should carefully research any provider to ensure they are both highly trained and experienced. This will ensure you have the highest chance of success and satisfaction with your results.

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This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or other professional advice. Your specific circumstances should be discussed with a healthcare provider. All statements of opinion represent the writers' judgement at the time of publication and are subject to change. Phoenix and its affiliates provide no express or implied endorsements of third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products, or services.

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