Scalp Micropigmentation (SMP)
Scalp micropigmentation (SMP) refers to medical tattooing of the scalp used for camouflaging purposes the process of replicating and simulating individual hair follicles using specialized pigment, needle, and machine much like a tattoo. SMP can be used to camouflage baldness either as a standalone procedure to create the short “buzzed hairstyle” ideal for someone who does not want to or cannont undergo a hair transplant. SMP can also be combined with a hair transplant (afterward as needed or desired) to enhance a surgical result to cover the scalp and thereby provide greater visual density.
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Finally, SMP can be used to camouflage scars, such as a linear donor scar from a previous hair transplant procedure or scars from an injury or burn. (Please see scar repair for more information on other options to repair scars.)
At the Lam Institute for Hair Restoration, we have partnered with Scalp Aesthetics and their award-winning team of artists, who have collectively treated thousands of patients over many years and have been recognized for their aesthetic and technical excellence (Artist of the Year 2017, as recognized by ScalpaCon). We believe that the only way to achieve excellent results is to rely on licensed, experienced, artistic, and technically precise professionals with years of work in the industry. The team at Scalp Aesthetics has achieved these highest honors, and Dr. Lam and his team work with them to achieve the ultimate standard in scalp micropigmentation work.
The artist is the most critical part of the SMP work but the machinery is also of utmost importance. SMP in Dallas is undertaken using a special machine outfitted with sterile, disposable instrumentation to deposit pigment at the surface of the scalp to decrease the color contrast between hair and bald scalp. SMP is as much an art as it is a science, and our team has extensive experience performing safe, natural looking results. The technique involves the placement of very fine dots of special pigment that are color matched to the individual’s natural hair and skin color. The results can make visible scars blend with the surrounding hair and bald scalp appear as a shaved or “buzzed” hairstyle. There are many different scenarios in which SMP can be applied and there are a variety of methods used to accomplish the desired objectives. After a consultation with Dr. Lam and his team, you can be guided on what method or combination of methods would suit you perfectly.
In our office, SMP is oftentimes used in three different situations: one as a standalone procedure to simulate a “buzzed” hairstyle, two to help camouflage scars, and three to create visual density in both men and women. (Please see scar repair for a detailed explanation of both surgical and non-surgical scar camouflage methods.) SMP is simple, fast, non-surgical, and potentially semi-permanent to permanent method to camouflage scars that appear in hair-bearing areas.
- As a standalone procedure, SMP may offer a less expensive, faster, and non-surgical method for some patients who do not desire a surgical hair procedure.
- SMP can be placed into all types of scars including linear donor scars in the back of the head, brow lifting scars, facelift scars, traumatic scalp scars, post-skin cancer scalp scars, cleft-lip scars, etc. In many cases, a combination of SMP and hair transplant into the scar may produce the most favored outcomes but oftentimes SMP alone can suffice. Again, a careful evaluation and consultation will help you decide which method is better for you. (Please see scar repair for a detailed explanation of both surgical and non-surgical scar camouflage methods.)
These two gentlemen are shown before and after scalp micropigmentation (SMP) for a linear donor scar.
This patient had a traumatic scar from childhood on his scalp that was camouflaged effectively with our scalp micropigmentation, otherwise known as medical tattooing.
- SMP is a non-surgical method that can provide visual density in both men and women and can wonderfully complement surgical hair transplants. SMP may be the first option as often seen in women who may not be candidates for hair transplants due to the lack of their donor’s hair. More commonly, however, SMP can be used to enhance a hair transplant result to further add density and thereby possible to avoid the need for a second surgical procedure. Obviously, the patient should probably wait a year to see the full expression of the transplanted result to best determine whether SMP is even needed at that point.
This gentleman desired more visual density in his crown
This patient underwent scalp micropigmentation (also known as medical tattooing) to create the illusion of greater visual density, an option available with surgery or without surgery.
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- Ideal candidate
- Male or Female who have see-through hair and are not candidates for medical or surgical treatments but desire to create visual density
- Someone having a scar or a bald spot that shows though hairs and needs to be camouflaged
- What to do
- Schedule your treatment.
- Plan on 2 to 3 sessions at 6 to 8 weeks apart (depending on each case).
- We will provide you instructions on what you need to know before and after the procedure.
- What to expect
- Immediately after the procedure, the treated area could look darker and/or red. This is temporary and should subside within a few days but may last a few weeks.
- The healing and settling of the pigment takes about 6 weeks. Scalp and scar tissue absorb pigment differently than skin, causing sometimes the pigment to spread under the skin or to be absorbed. We will schedule a follow-up visit with you for evaluation and further planning.
- The see-through effect should diminish with the SMP treatment.
Schedule a Consultation
To learn more about the treatment of Scalp Micropigmentation (SMP) in Dallas, contact us and schedule a consultation with board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Lam.
Does Dr. Lam perform microblading?
Microblading describes a long-lasting (albeit temporary) tattoo used primarily to simulate the appearance of eyebrow hairs. Dr. Lam does not perform microblading but can give you recommendations to providers in the Dallas area whom he trusts to perform this procedure. Of note, Dr. Lam does perform permanent eyebrow hair transplants, and you should explore the section dedicated to eyebrow hair restoration for more information.
What is the nature of the procedure like?
SMP is an easy office-based procedure. You begin with photographs taken, then a detailed discussion of what you are desiring to accomplish. The scalp will be thoroughly cleansed, and the area of concern outlined prior to starting. A long-lasting anesthetic will be administered to make the area numb. Depending on the area in question, you may be in the office for the morning or it may take a full day (with a break for lunch). For very extensive procedures, it may take two consecutive days. As mentioned above, expect that there will be some fading and a need to touch things up over a period of 2 to 3 times spaced 6 to 8 weeks at a minimum between sessions.
What are things that I should know about having this procedure performed?
We use the highest-quality pigments with highly skilled technicians performing the procedure. However, pigments will appear darker initially and then fade over several weeks to months. Second, pigments may change color or be completely absorbed by the skin. In particular, scars may not take up pigment as well and require further sessions. Despite the variability of these limitations, SMP has become a mainstay in Dr. Lam’s comprehensive treatment methods to help you achieve your desired aesthetic outcomes.
Can I become allergic to pigment?
It is rare, but it is possible to develop an allergic reaction. We use pigments that have many organic components and do not contain iron oxide.
What happens if my hair turns gray?
Depending on what color pigment is used, you may need to color your hair in the future. Most cases require the use of gray color pigment to accommodate for the change in hair color but even the gray pigment may show if the hair turns completely white. It is important to discuss this in detail with Dr. Lam before starting your SMP treatment.