Laser Removal of SMP – What You Need To Know

Advances in the quality of laser equipment is something we will all accept at face value. The inevitable progress of the quality of the technology we live with every day, from our mobile phones to our cars, has not passed laser by of course. This has had a profound effect on the ability of laser to safely and quickly remove a Scalp Micropigmentation treatment. We take a look at what you need to know, whether you are currently considering removal or want to know what the long term options are if you are currently considering SMP.


laser removal


Why Would I Want To Remove My SMP?

People have different reasons for choosing to remove, in whole or in part, their SMP treatment:

  • A desire to return to their original appearance

There is no doubt that the confidence a great SMP treatment brings with it has a marked effect on the personality of the wearer. Over time it can reach the point where they are so comfortable in their own skin that they no longer feel any need for it. They choose to return to their original state, of course it is not their original state… it is substantially changed by that new self-confidence.

  • Poor standard of work

It is an unfortunate fact that as the SMP industry grows there are an increasing number of unscrupulous providers performing sub-standard work. An experienced practitioner can often provide further remedial work to correct the outcome. However, sometimes the work is of such a poor standard that the choice is to spend months slowly and deliberately fading the treatment by spending time in direct sunlight (no more than 15 minutes a day), or more commonly to use laser to remove the bad work. Another important factor to bear in mind when being treated by the bad end of the market is the quality of the pigments they use… raising questions about their long term stability which might see them migrate or turn blue.

  • Change of style

Any bald man will tell you that a feature of being bald is looking at exactly the same face in the mirror every morning, without the option to change hairstyle there really are no options. One of the added benefits of SMP is that it does give some latitude for varying your appearance down the line. Using laser the hairline can be broken up for example, reducing the sharpness of the hairline can make a significant difference to the overall appearance of the SMP. But laser can also be used to reduce the density and shade which can also create a very different look.

The fact is that the massive majority of SMP clients will never require a laser intervention, but it is important for their peace of mind that it can be done quickly and safely. Many will simply allow their SMP to slowly fade and represent the natural process of thinning hair.

How Does Removal Work?

Removal in the early days was a lengthy and painful process borrowed from the cosmetic make-up industry. It involved harsh topical creams, acid based, and many applications to achieve any sort of result. The treatment itself was experimental and little was understood about the long term effects.

Laser, already in use to remove traditional tattoos, was quickly turned to as a far superior solution. It was realised that for two main reasons an SMP was even easier and safer to remove than traditional tattoos. First is that the pigments are inserted into the upper dermis, much higher than tattoo ink, from where it is easily accessible even by low levels of laser. The second, no less important factor, is that the pigments used (from a reputable practitioner) will be extremely simple with no metals (which can superheat and cause scarring). The combination of the two means that an SMP can often be removed in a single very quick session. Almost painless compared to any alternative.

Katrina of HIS Hair Clinic answers a few key questions about laser in this forum thread, apparently a Q Switched Nd:YAG laser is required. Katrina advises that the laser should be set to a 1064 wavelength with a medium spot size, so if your laser removal company is unsure, make sure you specify this setting… the chances are they will be grateful for being told as they are unlikely to have been asked to remove SMP before.

After your session, the pigment in the treated area should turn white. This is indicative of a successful reaction. Following this reaction, the results will be seen on a progressive basis over the following 3-4 weeks. If you require an additional session, a minimum delay of 6 weeks must be left between sessions to ensure no skin damage is caused.

Tomorrow: The evidence.


Laurie Downing