Is scalp micropigmentation painful?

Despite all the bravado, most men are concerned to some extent about whether or not their SMP treatment will hurt.

The honest answer to this question is that scalp micropigmentation can be uncomfortable, and some would describe it as a painful process, although others report that the pain level is really no big deal. For this reason, it is impossible to say in advance how much discomfort a particular individual will experience during the procedure.

What factors are likely to influence the pain level?

In reality, everyone has a different tolerance to pain, and this has little to do with how ‘tough’ a person is. Muscle bound men can find SMP very painful whilst men who are far more slight could experience no pain at all. It is due to each person having their own unique pain threshold.

There are physical factors that can have an effect too. A person with relatively thin scalp skin will most likely experience more discomfort than someone with thicker skin. Older men tend to have less sensitive, more leathery skin and this also reduces the pain level. Finally, the actual area being treated plays a big part, with most men reporting that the temples and frontal hairline are the most painful.

SMP pain level
A scalp micropigmentation procedure taking place

Sensitivity is also affected by any pre-existing conditions or physical factors. For example if pigments are being deposited into scar tissue the sensation is more unpredictable. Some say that the area is completely numb so they can’t feel a thing, whereas for others scar tissue is much more painful to treat. Furthermore, any areas that have been sensitised following a skin complaint, rash, burn or long term hair system usage for example, are also generally more sensitive.

What can be done to reduce the level of discomfort?

Undergoing a scalp micropigmentation procedure is a really big deal for most people. Unfortunately there is evidence to suggest that the more nervous or anxious a person is, the more likely they are to experience pain. The obvious advice of staying calm therefore stands, however it is not always so easy in the heat of the moment.

Several painkillers have been reported to help during a treatment session. Obvious choices are paracetamol and ibuprofen, although codeine and percocet may be more suitable due to their higher strength. Aspirin should be avoided as it thins the blood and encourages bleeding during the procedure. Alternatively a glass or two of wine before your session may be preferable, although check with your practitioner beforehand to make sure they’re happy to treat you in this event, and that they are clearly aware of your instructions so you’re not having to explain yourself after partaking in a couple of beverages.

Laurie Downing