Scalp Micropigmentation, sometimes known as “Tricho Pigmentation” or “Advanced Tricho Pigmentation,” is a cosmetic tattooing-like process used to create the appearance of short, cropped hair on the scalp. During the SMP process, a device similar to a tattoo gun is used to place a specialized pigmentation ink into the superficial layers of the scalp. The SMP artist uses the device to create a series of “dots” which are meant to mimic the appearance of “shaved” or shortly cropped hair; almost like hair “stubble.” With the SMP process, a patient is able to create the appearance of a shortly trimmed, but thick and normal head of hair in bald or thinning areas. With the popularity of “shaved” haircuts increasing, SMP creates the option for men with hair loss to recreate the look of a full head of shaved hair.
SMP can also be used to help minimize the appearance of hair transplant scars. By utilizing the pigmentation process on Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) linear scars and Follicular Unit Excision (FUE) “dot” scars, the scars themselves are greatly minimized and camouflaged. SMP can also be used to increase the perceived thickness or density of patients with thinning hair who chose to wear it long. This is done by darkening the scalp itself and minimizing the color contrast between the lighter-toned scalp and the darker-toned hair.
SMP can be performed using both “temporary” and “permanent” ink. Temporary SMP utilizes an ink comprised of pigments which purposely fade and completely disappear within 6-48 months (with 24 months being the average). Permanent tattoo ink contains metallic pigments which are more permanent, but can change and discolor over time (EG: black inks turn blue or green over time). Those who advocate for temporary SMP believe that placing permanent ink in the scalp will eventually lead to an unnatural appearance as the dark pigments change color. They believe the naturally dark SMP ink will eventually leave a permanent “blueish” or “greenish” hue on the scalp. Advocates of permanent SMP do not believe the color change is as much of an issue and tout the advantage of not requiring “touch ups” every several months to years.
SMP can be a very useful treatment for patients with hair loss seeking a better “shaved head” look, those seeking to thicken the appearance of thinning long hair, or those looking to camouflage surgical hair transplant scars in the “donor area.” For more information about SMP, please visit the SMP section at the Hair Transplant Web forum (forum.hairtransplantweb.com) or speak with Erik Cavagnuolo at Ahead Ink – a renowned authority on Scalp Micro Pigmentation (www.aheadink.com).