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What is Scalp Micro-Pigmentation (SMP)?

Scalp Micro-Pigmentation (SMP) is a non-surgical, medical-grade tattoo procedure that involves the placement of tiny pigment deposits within the upper dermis of the scalp that simulates the appearance of naturally growing hair. For people who are balding or thinning, the goal of the SMP treatment is to create an illusion of thicker, fuller, stronger hair by simulating the look of individual hairs.

What are the main uses for SMP?

  1. A Shaved Look

    Creating a shaved look using SMP has become increasingly popular with people who want to mimic the appearance of a closely cropped full head of hair. This procedure simulates the uniform appearance of growing stubble similar to when the hair reaches a length of between .1mm (1 guard) and .5mm (0 guard) growth on a shaved scalp.
  2. The Appearance of Density

    SMP can increase the appearance of density in areas of thinning hair by decreasing the color contrast between the scalp and hair in patients with longer hair lengths.

    This thickening effect can be particularly beneficial for:

    • Men and women with all over diffuse thinning
    • Patients who want to reduce, or eliminate, the use of camouflage products used on a daily basis
  3. Scar Concealment

    SMP is an effective procedure to help conceal and reduce the visibility of scars. These can be due to trauma to the scalp or from a variety of surgical procedures including FUT, old punch graft donor sites, FUE, craniotomy, and scalp reductions.
  4. Augmenting a Hair Transplant

    SMP has become very valuable tool to enhance the appearance of hair transplant procedures by giving the appearance of added density. This can be beneficial for patients who have undergone previous surgeries but who did not receive the growth they were hoping for or still appear “thinner” than they would like.
  5. Before and After Photos of SMP Procedures

    SMP Patient VNB before treatment (left) and after three SMP sessions (right)SMP Patient VNB before treatment (left) and after three SMP sessions (right)

    Patient VNB has an FUT scar he wanted to conceal. SMP was used to camouflage the scar and was blended above and below for a natural effect. He has straight, salt and pepper hair of medium thickness. His “after” photos were taken after his third session of SMP.

    SMP Patient ZLZ before treatment (left) and after two SMP sessions (right)SMP Patient ZLZ before treatment (left) and after two SMP sessions (right)

    Patient ZLZ has thinning on the top and crown of head. SMP was used to give the effect of overall, even thickness throughout the head. He has straight, salt and pepper hair of medium thickness. His “after” photos were taken after two sessions of SMP.

    SMP Patient QYZ before treatment (left) and after three SMP sessions (right)SMP Patient QYZ before treatment (left) and after three SMP sessions (right)

    Patient QYZ has overall thinning mainly in the crown and top of head. SMP was used to add overall density to the areas of concern to create a fuller effect and disguise the appearance of scalp showing through the hair. She has wavy, brown, fine hair. Her “after” photos were taken after her third session of SMP.

    Jennifer Oakley - SMP Specialist Bernstein Medical’s Scalp Micro-Pigmentation (SMP) Specialist Jennifer L. Oakley

    • Schedule Your SMP Consultation

    SMP at Bernstein Medical

    Prior to beginning SMP sessions, you will need to arrange a thorough consultation to best determine the pattern, desired effect, and goals of treatment. If appropriate, the doctor will also evaluate you for conditions such as psoriasis, eczema or active infections that may not allow for SMP to be performed.

    There are a few methods that can be used during SMP to achieve different looks. Consultation is especially useful to determine which tattooing method(s) will best achieve your desired results.

    Sessions are generally performed at least 2 weeks apart to allow time for exfoliation and settling of the ink. The ink dots will gradually appear less sharp over the following weeks. Patients often need 3 sessions to get the desired result.

    You may be given local anesthesia to numb the skin and sedatives to relax you; however, most patients do not require this.

    The machine used to perform SMP is called the Dermatograph. It is attached to tiny needles that cycle at a rate of 100-140 cycles per second. SMP needles penetrate and deposit ink at a depth of 0.25 to 0.5 mm into the skin. They are very fine medical-grade needles that deposit a small spot of specially formulated pigment.

    More information on SMP:

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Updated: 2019-11-22 | Published: 2012-11-19