Scalp micropigmentation is a surgical tattoo system that implants ink into the skin of the head to simulate real growing hair follicles and hair strands that have been shaved. Micropigmentation is the natural evolution of the cosmetic tattoo industry, customized for a highly-specific use. Although micropigmentation will not actually make hair regrow, it will make the scalp appear to be healthy and full of freshly shaved hair.
Scalp tattooing is a relatively recent baldness solution that is still developing into a full scale industry unto itself. We held off covering the topic early on, since preliminary results were less than stellar, but now feel that the science has progressed far enough to make scalp tattooing a serious contender as the ideal treatment for men or women who want to enjoy the look of growing hair, even if they have little or no hair of their own.
This dialog concentrates on providing an objective analysis of the benefits and limitations of head pigmentation for baldness treatment. We will detail the risks involved, the cost of the technique and the mindbody consequences of therapy.
What is Scalp Micropigmentation?
Most people understand how tattoos work. Ink made of various types of pigments is injected into the epidermis and will remain in the same location, visible through the skin. Tattoo is one of the coolest of human inventions and has been practiced by virtually every culture around the world for thousands of years. Scalp tattoo is based on the exact same principle, but is focused not on artistic interpretation, but instead on simulating the organic features of hair.
Tattoo-based scalp pigmentation can be used to treat all manner of hair loss patterns and conditions. It was first developed to treat receding hairlines in men with short hair, but its versatility was soon discovered and now the technique can be used to treatment many different kinds of baldness conditions, including general thinning, baldness at the crown of the head, receding hairlines in front or rear of the head or alopecia anywhere on the scalp. Micropigmentation can be used in men and women alike and the results can be long-lasting or permanent, depending on several factors.
Scalp tattooing has been virtually taken over by franchise-based or corporate-run businesses. There are many reputable companies to choose from and patients are strongly advised to shop around before deciding on a care provider. Costs range greatly, as do the results offered. Generally, the price of minor hairline patterns starts at several hundred dollars, while the cost of a full head of pigmentation can run upwards of $10,000. Most male scalp tattoo recipients pay between $2000 and $5000 for their complete treatment, while women tend to pay less at $1000 to $2500 on average.
Scalp Tattooing Benefits
The most obvious benefit offered by cosmetic scalp tattooing is the boost in self esteem and confidence offered. Men cite looking younger, healthier and more virile, while women report feeling more feminine, beautiful, healthy and “normal”. There are absolutely no physical benefits offered, but the effects on mind and spirit may be truly transformative for successfully treated patients who have suffered greatly due to their hair loss.
Compared to other forms of baldness treatments, pigmentation offers some distinct advantages that can not be denied. The cost of the technique is generally much less than hair restoration or any type of maintenance-based “hair system”. The procedure is fast, generally safe and well tolerated for all types of patients with various hair loss concerns and can be customized to provide just the right amount of treatment for each patient. Better still, treatment can continue in the future as needed to cover new balding areas, if need be.
All in all, scalp micropigmentation offers a unique solution that provides a very convincing aesthetic, despite doing nothing at all to address the actual underlying hair loss. However, all is not so perfect with this treatment, as we will explore in the section below.
Scalp Micropigmentation Downsides
The main downside of scalp tattooing is that it is really only effective at simulating hair follicles or slight stubble. The more the technique tries to emulate actual strands of hair, the worse it generally looks, even if these strands are still very short. The best aesthetic is attained when going for a “freshly shaved look”. Obviously, this is not appealing for all men and is even less appealing for many women.
The technique is very expensive considering what it actually is. However, considering the high cost of quality traditional tattooing and the time invested in the scalp tattooing procedure, the cost is not ridiculous by any means.
Since this aesthetic solution is relatively new, it is difficult to determine what the result will look like in 5 years, 10 years or 20 years later. This is a valid point of worry for many prospective patients. One possible time-related issue is naturally changing (grey or white) hair color that might not match the darker pigmented ink in the scalp. Another is the possibility of regular touch-ups to provide for new balding patterns with pigment that does not match the original coloration due to UV exposure, oxidation or other process of change. There is always the chance that some pigments can change color to provide a truly unnatural coloration, such as blue or green. Only time will tell if these are valid concerns or not.
Scalp Micropigmentation Overview
Men who prefer, or do not mind, close cropped hair will love this possibility in treating baldness. The look achieved can be very realistic and will require no maintenance at all. It will never wash off, does not have to be cut or styled and requires no hair products. Men who prefer to use pigmentation to color sections of the scalp, while maintaining length on their existing hair, might be disappointed in the relative inflexibility of hairstyles in order to maintain a more natural look. Supplementation of patches of the scalp will never look as realistic when surrounding hair is longer.
Some women use a similar approach to men, by keeping their natural hair close cropped and using pigmentation to achieve a freshly-shaved head appearance. However, most women who utilize the technique do so to fill in thinning areas of their scalp near the hairline or their natural part, rather than actually cover fully balding regions of the head. In this application, micropigmentation can be much more convincing than the commonly used sprays and dyes used on the scalp.
We recommend scalp tattooing as a good possible solution for people who are suffering the mindbody effects of hair thinning or loss. Depending on your needs and preferences, scalp micropigmentation offers solutions ranging from acceptable to ideal, with some outcomes being better than the patients organic hair ever was. Just be sure to shop around and compare cost and quality before purchasing any treatment plan.