Hair loss

01 November 2017

Scalp tattoos: a way to cope with hair loss

Some men show off their bald heads with confidence, while other men feel uncomfortable with losing their hair.

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Have you felt ashamed of your balding scalp? Do you wonder if it isn't better to just shave it all off and accept that you're going bald?

Many men have found themselves in this position, and many have opted for alternative treatments.

A chronic condition

Scalp micropigmentation (SMP), or scalp tattoo, is a highly specialised process where pigment is permanently inked into the dermal layer of the skin. But it is more than getting a tattoo – it is a way for men to compensate for hair loss.

Alopecia is a chronic condition that can affect any area of the body, including the scalp, and results in hair loss. It may be gradual or sudden, and can happen to anyone at any age, male or female.

The most common form of alopecia is male-pattern baldness, which affects around half of all men by age 50.

Another, more distressing form of hair loss is alopecia areata, which causes bald patches about the size of a large coin. These patches usually appear on the scalp but can occur anywhere on the body.

Alopecia areata occurs in about one in every 1 000 people, with most people affected under the age of 30 years.

A highly skilled process

SMP should resemble shaven hair, which is a highly skilled and specialised process. Much finer needles are used than those you'll find in a tattoo parlour. They are also isnerted at a much shallower depth.

The HIS Hair Clinic was the first company to introduce SMP to the world in 2002. Now SMP is the leading global – and permanent – treatment for baldness in men. Many companies locally and internationally have followed in their footsteps.

What you can expect

Hair has mass and texture; unfortunately SMP does not – it just gives the illusion of a shaved head.

According to the Daily Mail, most people who opt for SMP describe getting the tattoos as a "light tingling sensation in the scalp".

The procedure takes roughly three to five hours, depending on the size of the area. People are also expected to return for two to three follow-up sessions.

The procedure is reportedly cheaper than hair transplant surgery, where individual hair follicles are taken from another part of the body and implanted into the balding area.

Added benefits

SMP is less invasive and often a better option for people who do not have hair follicles to remove and implant.

The process does not stop your hair from growing. The (remaining) hair, however, should be shaved off before treatment can begin.

Image credit: iStock