- What happens when my hair turns gray?
Despite being the #1 question received from our clients, gray hair has little effect on the overall appearance of the hair following SMP treatments. For procedures that involve keeping the hair short (buzz cuts), gray hair is almost invisible provided clients maintain their buzzed look.
For procedures performed through longer hair (density), we thoroughly consult with our clients about how they will handle long-term maintenance. Some clients with longer hair will tell us they will color their hair, while others will reference that it took many decades for their parents to go gray.
Furthermore, SMP pigments are all gray. There are many different shades of gray we can use, but they’re all still gray. Brown pigments are available but they turn slightly warmer but still gray after a month. Going gray is typically a gradual process, and SMP will continue to blend well with gray pigments that soften over the years.
Additionally, by the time the touch-up is needed (approx. 4-6 years) adjustments can be made to ensure continued blending. This is an art, and procedures are highly tailored to the individual and great care is used to ensure our client’s long-term success.
- What is SMP?
- SMP is a non-surgical procedure that remedies hair loss by pigmentation into the scalp the illusion of thousands of hair follicles. Pigment is applied with a small needle over the course of 1 to 2 sessions. This innovative procedure can be used to create a shaved head look, add density to thinning hair, or camouflage skin diseases or scarring. This affordable solution provides immediate results suitable for almost everyone.
- How much does SMP cost?
- The cost of your procedure depends on your level of hair loss and on any special requirements you may have. Since every situation is unique, we will either need photos or an in-person consultation to give you an accurate quote. The cost will increase if you have hair transplant scars to conceal, or it can decrease if you have less advanced hair loss or only a small area needing treatment.
- Is SMP available for women?
- SMP is the ideal solution to conceal female pattern baldness in a stealthy way. Women typically experience diffuse thinning that spreads throughout the top of the head. This can be especially noticeable anywhere the hair is parted. The primary goal is to reduce the contrast between the hair and the scalp. We approach this similarly to men receiving a density treatment. SMP can conceal this contrast, which creates a permanent illusion of fullness.
- Will the pigments used fade or change color?
- We use a specially formulated pigment that is created for scalp micropigmentation purposes. There’s no risk of the color turning blue or green. Our pigments are carbon based and contain all vegan ingredients absent of any colors like blue or green.
- How long will the treatment take?
- The typical SMP treatment will take roughly 3-6 hours. If you’re coming from out of town, please plan on your procedure taking 2 consecutive days so that we can ensure the most thorough results before you return home. A touch-up after 30 days is necessary and is included in the cost of your procedure.
- Will people be able to tell I have had this treatment done?
- Our work is unbelievably realistic. If you don’t tell people, they won’t know. Most clients report that family and friends think that they’re growing their hair out or that their appearance has been enhanced somehow.
- What is the recovery period like?
- Recovery is very simple, and aftercare instructions will be provided. The scalp will heal itself in 5-7 days. During the healing period, swimming, heavy sweating and sun exposure must be avoided. Keeping the scalp clean is very important. Pigments can take up to 4 full weeks to cure. The pigments will cure a couple of shades lighter than originally applied, similar to a fresh tattoo. After 3-4 weeks, the pigments will cure to their final shades, approximately 10-20% lighter than initially applied.
- How long is it until the procedure fades, discolors or looks less realistic?
- Clients can go years without having a touch-up. In general, we recommend a touch-up after approximately 3-5 years. Following aftercare instructions and keeping your scalp from overexposure to the elements helps ensure longer-lasting results. Much like having a tattoo, the most important way to safeguard against any fading is to keep your scalp moisturized, using sunscreen or by wearing a hat during extended periods of sun exposure.
- Is SMP painful?
Approximately 60% of our clients experience minimal discomfort throughout the procedure, the remainder experience discomfort in localized areas or some general tenderness may appear in broader areas after 2-3 hours.
- A slight minority experience a high-level of pain. In these rare situations, we may utilize the services of a hair transplant facility in our building to numb the scalp. We also use topical lidocaine numbing that can help desensitize the scalp. After the procedure is complete pain stops and some light tenderness and tingling may be experienced for several days afterwards.
- If you’re concerned about pain, we encourage you to talk to your doctor about prescription options for reducing pain.
- Will the pigments used be matched to my hair color?
- We utilize a diluted black carbon-based pigments which is standard in the SMP industry. We choose a specific shade that most closely complements a person’s coloring and undertones. Although choosing the correct shade of pigment is important, replicated follicle density and the depths they’re placed have more impact on how dark or light a treatment gets. Clients who receive buzz cuts are at low risk of encountering complications with hair color, as the hair appears gray when buzzed. The density of the replicated follicles means how close these impressions are spaced from each other, the denser the impressions are the darker the procedure appears. Brown pigments are available on the market; however, after extensive testing, our results have shown that these pigments eventually cure gray after 2–3 weeks. Darker hair colors are enhanced easily when applying SMP through longer hair (density treatment), but when the hair is lighter and warmer the application needs to be applied with more care. Due to the ineffectiveness of brown pigments, Scalpworx has taken further steps to adjust these pigments. By adding a “warming” agent called a modifier. By adding modifier, a warmer pigment is created which reduces the risk of a cooler cure out. These factors make an exact hair color match challenging. It’s important to remember that the primary purpose of adding density through longer hair is to conceal the scalp from showing through, thus giving the appearance of a thicker head of hair.
- Is SMP removable?
Most scalp micropigmentation treatments can be removed by laser in 1–2 sessions. Only rarely are additional sessions required. We recommend Dr. Ink Eraser in Sandy Springs, GA. If considering laser removal, a consultation with us is encouraged. Many procedures are still salvageable with blending techniques.
- Overall, who makes the best SMP candidates?
The best candidates are those who have thoroughly read and considered the SMP process. This means that candidates have evaluated other hair loss treatments and have concluded that the immediate results of SMP outweigh other options. Candidates may have taken another course to treat their hair loss, such as undergoing a hair transplant, and they understand the benefits of significantly enhancing previous treatments with an SMP density treatment.
- Should I Seek a consultation?
- Since each client has their own unique hair loss needs, it is best to talk to our team for an evaluation of individual circumstances. Most of our clients prefer to communicate over text, but we are happy to schedule an in-person or over-the-phone consultation for you. It is important that you send us clear, well-lit photos taken at multiple angles, including the front, sides, top, and back of the head. Multiple photos will help us provide the best information about how to best tailor our treatment to you.
- What does it mean when you say I am a good density candidate?
The ideal density candidates for a density treatment are those who have an intact hairline and can maintain sufficient hair coverage to achieve the appearance of fullness. Good candidates include the following:
a. Those who have had hair transplants.
b. Women, as they typically experience diffuse thinning, and complete loss is rare.
c. Those who have slowed or stopped hair loss through the use of medications or other treatments.
d. Those who can demonstrate that they have been slowly losing hair over the years.
- Who is not a good density candidate?
When SMP is added underneath the hair, it obscures the empty scalp from showing through, thus making your hair look thicker and fuller. If the hair is too thin or is thinning quickly, a natural-looking result may be difficult to achieve, or the result may not be long lasting. For example, a 25-year-old man losing his hair rapidly would not be a good candidate for a density treatment, as the hair will likely be too thin by age 30 to provide him with a natural look. Furthermore, a 40-year-old man who has a hairline and fullness in the front but has a completely bald crown would be a similarly poor candidate for this treatment. If this is the case, a buzzcut treatment may be recommended.
- If I have had a hair transplant(s), how will that impact my treatment?
- For either density or buzzcut treatments, hair transplant recipients should expect slightly longer procedure times to achieve the same results. Transplants create scarring both in donor and recipient areas, as well as alter the scalp tissue, and this can complicate the way the scalp takes on pigments, especially in any donor area scars. Additional time will help us determine how your scalp takes on pigment and address any issue with how your scalp cures pigment.
- What expectations should I have about concealing hair transplant donor area scarring?
- Concealing scars is a camouflage technique that makes a huge difference in the noticeability of scarring. Clients need to have appropriate expectations and understand that scarring may still be somewhat visible, depending on the age, coloring, and contouring of the scar. Gaps in hair growth inside the scars can also contribute to difficulties with concealment; therefore, we are not able to guarantee complete invisibility of these scarred areas, but huge improvements can be made. Additionally, concealing scars under longer hair will likely require additional blending, should you cut your hair shorter.
Travel, office accommodations, etc.
- Why does Scalpworx do one longer procedure session followed by a 30-day touch up versus multiple sessions?
- The majority of our clients prefer to achieve full coverage during the first procedure day rather than returning for multiple sessions. This means that it may take more time to complete an initial procedure, but this also means that the results are more immediate, and clients avoid the inconvenience of multiple sessions to build density. Furthermore, this strategy means clients can avoid that awkward period between sessions when things don’t look full enough. We achieve these results in one day by thoroughly applying the SMP at a pace and at depths that create long-lasting results. After the initial procedure, clients need to return for a touch up in about a month. The touch up is necessary to address any issues after curing, such as additional blending needed, pigment rejection, or amendments to hairlines. Typically, buzz cut procedures require less touch up time, whereas density procedures require more.
- What types of needles does Scalpworx use? What’s the difference between 3 and 1-round needles?
- We use 3-round, one-time-use safety cartridges from Cheyenne. These needles are manufactured in Germany and meet the requirements of the Int’l Organization for Standardization for medical devices. They’re gas sterilized in their packaging and are only opened when the procedure begins. Depending on the condition of the scalp, we replace the needles approximately every 45 minutes. Occasionally, clients get nervous about things they’ve read about needles. Our needles are never reused. Clients are encouraged to ask that needle packages be opened in front of them—we’re happy to do it.
- To the naked eye, 3-round needles appear to have one needle, but under magnification, they house 3 separate closely aligned pins versus the single pin contained in the 1-round. By holding the ink between these 3 pins, they’re more efficient at retaining ink, whereas much less of the ink doesn’t penetrate the scalp when using a single-pin needle. The result of using the 3-round is replicated follicles that last longer and are placed at more consistent depths, as the ink doesn’t run off the needle like on the 1-round. For these reasons, the 3-round needles give our clients a longer treatment lifespan before touch ups are required. Over the years, we’ve seen many clients who’ve received treatments with the single round, but the results have often faded rapidly, requiring us to amend the procedure. Although the results from 1-round needles look good in after photos, rapid fading almost always requires the treatment to be redone.
- What types of pigments does Scalpworx use?
We use a standard gray wash made by Silverback Ink. These premixed bottles are precisely blended to produce consistent shades and to help avoid missteps when diluting and mixing inks. We believe this safeguards against incorrect applications. Silverback inks are manufactured in the USA but are tested in accordance with European Union Regulatory Standards, which are stringent. Unfortunately, the USA currently does not regulate pigments. We are aware that there are many new pigments specifically marketed for SMP and have tried many of these pigments in the past. Although some seemed fine, some were contaminated or had plant-based dyes that changed color. We feel confident using a product that meets strict testing standards and has a longer history in the industry. Furthermore, we’ve had excellent results with these products since 2017. In addition to the Silverback inks, we also add a micro-modifier by Tina Davis to all client procedures. Tina Davis has been offering her pigments for many years and provides all the chemical testing documentation for her pigments. The micro-modifier is a warming agent that provides “insurance” against a pigment curing out too cool on lighter complexions, which in rare cases can appear bluish gray. Even though SMP inks don’t contain any colors other than carbon black, the modifier blocks any coolness from coming through and keeps results looking warmer.
- How long does it take for the redness to go away after a procedure?
- Clients with lighter complexions are typically more susceptible to noticeable redness. Most redness will subside within 12-24 hours. Redness is typically not anymore noticeable than a sunburn.
- Will there be bleeding or swelling?
- Bleeding is unusual, however, we do occasionally see localized spotting of blood. Swelling is extremely rare and has only been observed when we’ve worked on clients who’ve recently had other procedures on their scalp like platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections.
What is pigment rejection, and how much should I expect?
Everyone will experience pigment rejection during the curing period, which can take up to a month post treatment. On average, about 15–25% of rejection is normal, but we have seen clients reject upwards of 50% of their SMP treatment. To create a natural and softer look, impressions near the hairline and temple are applied smaller and at shallower depths, which results in higher rates of rejection compared to other areas of the scalp. To optimize pigment retention, artists will make every effort to apply the impressions so they’re just large enough, at the right depth and with enough pigment to resist being wiped out by the immune system. Please keep in mind that physiological factors play a major role in rejection, and we’re not able to predict how the scalp will take pigment. Moreover, clients’ circumstances are different, and retention is not always easy to predict. For example, those who have had hair transplants or have worn hair systems for years should expect higher levels of rejection. Although rejection looks bad, appearing as patchy areas of pigment, it’s incredibly easy to restore during the touch up, so don’t panic. Furthermore, having your artist see which areas have rejected pigment will help them determine how your scalp takes pigment and adjustments will be made to mitigate further rejection.
- I’ve been letting my procedure cure, but it doesn’t look right, and I’m panicking. What should I do?
Take a deep breath and be reassured that more than 95% of undesirable curing can be easily remedied. Some scalps, especially those affected by hair systems, scarring, or hair transplants, require more time and sessions to achieve a desirable result. Although it’s ideal to have one full procedure day plus a touch up, sometimes the process can be longer and more involved. Please be patient and trust the process. If a cure out isn’t optimal and is causing distress, we encourage clients to contact us. Occasionally, we’ll ask clients to come in before their scheduled touch up so that we can evaluate and amend areas of concern.
- What are the aftercare instructions?
- 1. Redness – Scalp redness typically subsides within 12-24 hours.
- 2. Washing Hair & Scalp – 48 hours following your procedure, gently wash with the shampoo provided, rinse with warm water, lightly pat dry and repeat daily. The rinsed water may appear tinted during your first wash. You may resume your regular shampooing routine 5 days post procedure.
- Sweating & Activities – Avoid profuse sweating for 3 days; swimming, steam rooms etc. for 7 days.
- 3. Haircuts – You may resume haircuts after 3 days.
- 4. For Buzz Cuts: You’ll need to cut your hair approximately every 4-5 days, we recommend the: Remington HC-4250 Shortcut Pro Clippers (use with no guard). For a closer cut, any rotary shaver made for use on the scalp like the Electrfire IPX6 Head Shaver, both are available on Amazon.
- 5. Moisturizing (for buzz cuts) – You may begin applying a thin layer of the moisturizer provided in your aftercare kit as needed 24 hours after the procedure. Moisturizing your scalp helps reduces skin irritation, itching, scabbing and fading.
- 6. Avoid chemicals – Avoid products that could irritate the scalp like hair dye for 7 days. If you use Rogaine, discontinue using it for 21 days post procedure and 7 days prior to any touch-ups.
- 7. Scabbing (more common for density procedures) – Dark micro scabs may form within the first 10 days and fall off like dandruff, this is normal, do not pick at these scabs.
- 8. Touching & Scratching – Always wash your hands before touching your scalp. Gently rub or pat any itchy areas versus scratching to minimize the risk of infection for 7 days.
- 9. Scalp Shine (applies more to buzz cuts) – Scalp shine is common and typically subsides within 7-14 days. If you have issues with scalp shine, we recommend: Folicule Scalp Anti-Shine, available through folicule.com.
- 10. Sun Exposure & Sunscreen:
- – Clean loose fitting hats can be worn immediately following the procedure.
- – Sun exposure exceeding 15 minutes must be avoided for 14 days unless a hat is worn.
– Sunscreen (for buzz cuts) may be used beginning 14 days after the procedure. We recommend: Neutrogena Ultra-Sheer, Dry-Touch SPF 70. In the long term, sunscreen or hats should be used during extended periods in the sun.