Shadow Clinic result

Scalp micropigmentation – how to get the best results

I receive a large number of emails and comments on my posts from people who are anxious to understand how to achieve the most realistic results from their scalp micropigmentation procedures. When all is said and done, delivering the best result is the responsibility of your chosen provider, however there are certain guidelines you can follow to come out of the other side with the most favorable outcome.

There are a number of other posts on this site that are directly related to this question. I would definitely suggest you read about how SMP works, my post about fading and also my aftercare guidelines. If you have scars to conceal, you should also read my other (comprehensive) post about hair transplant scars, my post dedicated to FUE scars and learn a little more about the benefits of Fraxel laser repair.

Your chosen practitioner

At the heart of your treatment plan is your practitioner or technician. Experience is important, but there is more to it than that. I have witnessed some truly excellent results delivered by technicians with only a few months of experience, and equally some very experienced guys have shown some poor results on the odd occasion. Use the practitioners experience as a general marker, but do not rely on this metric exclusively.

Also consider the company behind the technician. An honest, customer-focused provider is just as important as a great practitioner. You will need post-procedure support, advice and follow-on sessions, so make sure you’re comfortable with the provider you choose and ensure they are reasonably accessible from a travel point of view wherever possible.

A great SMP result
An excellent, age-appropriate result delivered by Good Look Ink

You might want to read my post about the most experienced practitioners, and see our provider reviews for guidance. I also offer an easy reference point for before and after photos and videos from the best known providers.

Communication is key

Your technician can only deliver what you want, if they fully understand what you are looking to achieve. Their responsibility is to deliver what you ask for, not to use their crystal ball to guess what you want. All reputable providers offer some sort of consultation process, be it by phone, email or in person, so discuss your requirements in detail and make sure that both parties are in agreement that what you want is both achievable, and in your best interest.

For this to happen, you need to do a bit of homework. A picture paints a thousand words, so find photographs of other results you like (or don’t like) and make them available for your consultation. Ask questions, be prepared to listen and keep an open mind.

In many cases you will deal with one individual throughout your treatment experience, from consultation to the completion of your final sitting. If this is not the case (it isn’t always at some of the larger providers), then ensure that your requirements are communicated in full a second time directly with your practitioner when you arrive for your first session. This step is CRUCIAL, so do not assume that your technician is fully aware of the discussion that took place with one of their colleagues. They should be, but unfortunately this is not always the case.

Shadow Clinic result
Another great result, this time by The Shadow Clinic in Sydney

Finally communicate any thoughts, anxieties or changes throughout the treatment process with your technician. Depending on your provider your procedure will usually require anywhere from one to four sessions or more, so there is always the opportunity for you to change your mind about what final look you want to achieve. Again, they cannot be expected to know unless you tell them.

Have realistic expectations

Scalp micropigmentation is a pretty astonishing development in the world of hair loss. Far from being just a regular tattoo, a properly applied SMP treatment takes considerable time and skill to deliver and can produce some amazing results. Try to remember however that it is not real hair. SMP dots are an illusion of shaved hair, nothing more. Here is what you can reasonably expect in most cases:

  • Your pigmentation WILL fade as you proceed through your sessions. This is normal. Do not panic, and communicate any anxieties with your practitioner. You will get there in the end, but it takes time.
  • Unless your hair loss pattern satisfies some pretty strict requirements, it is unlikely you will be able to keep your hair longer than a zero guard shave. If you intend to keep your hair longer, ensure you discuss this with your provider before committing to treatment to ensure your expectations are realistic and advisable
  • Technicians have to play it by ear. Until your first set of pigments have cured or ‘settled’, they do not know what your rate of absorption will be or what will ultimately be required to achieve the best blend. Have patience, and do not expect a completed look after stage one of a multi-stage treatment
  • Agree the cost of any additional sessions you may require before commencement

Learn to love yourself

I know this sounds very bohemian and hippy, but it is possibly the most important single factor that decides how happy you will be after your procedure. If you constantly pick fault with yourself or suffer from some sort of anxiety disorder or body dysmorphia, or generally have low self-esteem not related exclusively to your hair loss, then even the most perfect treatment will leave you feeling dissatisfied.

Ask yourself what you hope to achieve, and whether an SMP treatment truly addresses any body image issues you may have. If you are self-conscious as a result of an unhappy relationship, a difficult childhood or jibes from someone in your family or at work, do not expect those problems to go away just because you regain your ‘hair’. SMP may help you on that journey, but it cannot solve those problems on its own.

If you accept that there are deeply entrenched issues that you need to overcome, and that your SMP treatment is there to help you address them as part of a wider self-help program, then you are much more likely to achieve satisfaction when your sessions are complete.

Laurie Downing