Scalp Micropigmentation Can Help With Thinning Hair—Here's Everything You Need to Know

People are turning to the tattooing procedure to help cover hair loss.


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It’s estimated that roughly 50% of women and 80% of men will deal with significant hair loss throughout their life. In fact, it’s one of the most common issues that dermatologists diagnose and treat day in and day out. As common as hair loss is, though, that doesn’t change how frustrating or difficult it feels to experience it. 

The good news is that experts have developed numerous hair loss treatments that can help target, reverse, and conceal various forms of hair loss. Scalp micropigmentation is one of those technologies, and today we’re covering everything you need to know about this treatment for thinning hair. 

RELATED: How Much Is Too Much Hair Loss? Here's When to See a Trichologist

What is Scalp Micropigmentation?

Scalp micropigmentation is a treatment that camouflages both thinning hair and hair loss by depositing medical-grade pigment into the scalp. Think of it as a medical tattoo, or a more clinical variation on eyebrow microblading. Essentially, thousands of teeny-tiny dots create the appearance of thicker hair and a more defined hairline. 

“Scalp micropigmentation can be utilized in thinning zones to improve coverage at a widening part line, enhance crown coverage, and camouflage scar tissue,” notes Alan Bauman, MD, founder, CEO, and medical director of Bauman Medical Hair Transplant & Hair Loss Treatment Center. 

Scalp Micropigmentation Results 

One of the perks of scalp micropigmentation is that the results are immediate. You may experience some redness and swelling similar to other forms of tattooing or microblading, but once that subsides after a few days you’ll enjoy a fuller-looking head of hair. 

“The pigments used in scalp micropigmentation are considered permanent cosmetic pigments. They are not the same as tattoo ink, so they [are more] resistant to fading and color change,” Dr. Bauman says. 

That said, scalp micropigmentation does require touch-ups about every five to 10 years in order to maintain a more natural appearance. How long the results last ultimately depends on lifestyle habits, sun exposure, and the way your body processes the medical-grade ink. 

If you don’t like the results or you decide you don’t want to keep up on scalp micropigmentation, you can have it removed via laser treatments. 

What to Expect During Scalp Micropigmentation Treatment

Before getting scalp micropigmentation for thinning hair, you’ll discuss your primary areas of concern and aesthetic goals with your physician. From there, they’ll discuss your treatment options, recommend a certain number of sessions, and find the right color match for your hair and scalp. 

As for the process itself, a numbing agent is applied to reduce discomfort, notes Erum Ilyas, MD, a board-certified dermatologist with Schweiger Dermatology Group. She adds, “This process is similar to tattooing, and the pigment is deposited into the scalp at varying depths to provide varying hues to simulate the appearance of hair.” 

Each individual scalp micropigmentation session takes between two to three hours, and you'll need to wait two weeks between each session. After each session, you’ll want to avoid sweat, sauna, water, and scratching for seven days. 

Scalp Micropigmentation Cost

Unlike some other hair care treatments, the pricing for scalp micropigmentation varies depending on the size of the area you would like to get done. On average, you can expect to pay between $1000 to $5,000.

The Best Candidates for Scalp Micropigmentation 

This form of hair loss treatment is best for those who have thinning hair or mild balding. For example, it’s ideal for someone who finds that parting their hair exposes their scalp directly giving the appearance of sparse hair, or someone who has a receding hairline or areas of sparseness. “By adding pigmentation, the reduction in the contrast between the pigment of hair and pigment in skin can be reduced,” Dr. Ilyas explains. 

Scalp micropigmentation also tends to work best when there is a significant contrast between the skin and hair pigment, notes Dr. Ilyas. Those with lighter hair colors may not see as much of a difference. 

Also keep in mind that scalp micropigmentation is considered a camouflage and doesn’t address the root cause of hair loss. Your physician may suggest supplementing with other types of hair loss technologies. 

For example, Dr. Bauman says it pairs nicely with hair transplants to help cover the appearance of linear ‘strip’ scars left behind from old-style hair transplants. And for previous hair transplant patients, “it helps shift the ‘supply and demand ratio’ into the patient’s favor so valuable donor follicles can be utilized where they are most needed,” he adds. 

What to Keep In Mind Before Scalp Micropigmentation  

As with any sort of medical treatment, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind before getting scalp micropigmentation. 

Choose a Reputable Practitioner 

“The biggest medical risks of scalp micropigmentation come with using an unlicensed or inexperienced practitioner who may not take the necessary precautions,” Dr. Bauman warns. Possible risks include poor cosmetic results and infection from unsterilized needles. An experienced practitioner can show you numerous before and after photos, as well as guide your expectations regarding the numbers of sessions required to reach your goals.  

Be Wary of Infection 

Infection and scarring is a risk anytime the skin is punctured. Again, a reputable practitioner working in a clinical setting can reduce this risk greatly. You’ll also need to tend to your treatment as directed. 

Be Mindful of Potential Scarring 

Similarly, some scarring can occur if you work with a subpar practitioner or if you’re predisposed to scarring. “Avoiding this treatment if you tend to get keloids or hypertrophic scars,” says Dr. Ilyas. 

Understand That It’s Camouflage and Not Treatment 

Scalp micropigmentation camouflages and conceals versus targeting the actual cause of hair loss. “I think of scalp micropigmentation as a nice adjunct to other therapies,” Dr. Ilyas says. “I do find that patients find the results satisfying and this tends to be a confidence builder overall, especially when considering challenges some of my patients will face when swimming and how water impacts the appearance of thinning hair.” 

Remember It’s Not Permanent 

Though it’s a medical-grade tattoo that’s resistant to fading, scalp micropigmentation isn’t permanent. This treatment requires touch-up sessions every five to 10 years depending on your lifestyle, genetics, and sun exposure. 

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