SMP also known as Scalp Micro-Pigmentation or Micro-pigmentation are terms used to describe a variation of a tattoo. Instead of shading the ink as in a typical tattoo, very small dots are created with the ink and in a random pattern.This tattoing of the scalp mimics short follicles in the scalp, as though one received a short hair cut. The reward to this procedure is that it can mask small areas of hair loss and when performed in areas that has some native hair or in conjunction with a transplant, then the illusion of having double or even triple the hair can be potentially achieved. This newest advancement in hair restoration has become very popular over the past 6 to 8 years. It can also be used to cover scalp scarring such as strip excisions or even FUE and old “plug” hair restoration procedures. The cost of SMP varies from clinic and/or company to clinic and/or company. The more exciting part of SMP is that less grafts need to be used for an FUE procedure to gain the same effect in many cases and especially when the patient likes to where his hair short. And another exciting outcome of SMP is covering old strip scars to the point of almost allowing the patient to cut his hair to a 1 guard or less. Look at this example of an old strip scar (left) and after SMP (right).
However there are downsides to SMP procedures as we will discuss this here.
First off SMP does not have a specific protocol or a universal standard. There is no school for SMP and is not taught in medical schools or other healthcare allied health curriculums. SMP must be taught by apprenticeship and these days most well known clinics use their expertise to add their knowledge to the procedure to provide better outcomes for the patient. Dr. Sara Salas here at Baja Hair Center embraced the procedure and has now nearly perfected it. The ink color and biochemical make up, needle size, and technique are such that a true follicular unit is mimicked for a better illusion of hair density.Her standard way of performing SMP is being taught to colleagues in her field and is now a standard practice offered readily just as an FUT, FUE, PRP, and stem cell therapies are. Furthermore, the quality assurance of this procedure is monitored one on one with her expert staff member.
Not everyone has the hands and patience for SMP because it is meticulous work. Some of the earlier versions of SMP performed at other clinics during the first couple of years of its inception provided clues to what inks should and should not be used as well as the type, size, shape and pattern of the actual dot. And as mentioned before, the technique varies from clinic to clinic. So what we recommend to those who are interested is to do thorough research into the clinic/s experience, proven results and actually talk to a former patients who have had an SMP or a combination procedure such as FUE/SMP.