Scalp Micropigmentation vs Hair Transplant: Which One is for You?

male pattern baldness

Hair loss, thinning hair, and premature balding are some of the things that everyone gets conscious about. So here, we will compare scalp micropigmentation vs hair transplant.

Experiencing these negatively affects our self-confidence especially as we grow older. Thankfully, we have a lot of options on how we can address this insecurity.

If you’ve tried different products for female or male pattern baldness, hoping to find that miracle product to no avail, then you might have also thought about getting treatments that are more technical and permanent.

Here, we will discuss the two most popular treatments for hair loss or patchy baldness:. Which one is better, scalp micropigmentation vs hair transplant. While hair transplant surgery has been around for ages, scalp micropigmentation may be a treatment you have not totally heard about.

Don’t worry, we will give you all the information you need so you can find out which treatment is right for you. Read on and see how you can get your hair back to its former glory.

What is a hair transplant?

Hair transplant surgery is a permanent solution addressing balding or receding hairline. This is a surgical procedure where healthy hair from a donor site is taken and used to fill an area with no hair or thinning hair.

There are two popular types of hair transplant based on the procedure: follicular unit transplantation or FUT, and follicular unit extraction or FUE.

The main difference between the two is in how hair is removed and used to replace lost hair in other areas. For FUT, a thin strip of hair is removed from the donor site. Meanwhile, FUE uses a punch tool to remove and transplant the hair graft from the donor site, one by one.

This treatment has been around since the ‘50s and is a common option for those with minimal hair loss but has a strong donor area.

What is scalp micropigmentation

Since hair transplant surgery is often regarded as an expensive and invasive procedure, another alternative treatment is scalp micropigmentation.

Scalp micropigmentation or SMP is a non-surgical, and more affordable alternative to a hair transplant. This treatment uses microneedles and pigment to mimic tiny hair follicles across the balding area.

SMP is essentially a hairline tattoo, although there are differences when it comes to needle size, needle shape, and pigment when compared to a standard body tattoo. 

The size and shape of the needle are smaller and more jagged to create natural-looking hair follicles. The pigment used also differs for each person since it has to specifically match the recipient’s hair.

Using scalp micropigmentation, you can add fullness to your hairline or get the appearance of a short buzz cut. This is also used to enhance hair transplants for a more natural look or to cover scars and birthmarks.

How is the treatment done?

General Procedure

Hair transplant

Hair transplant is an invasive procedure where a local anesthetic is needed to numb the areas involved. A sedative is also used to keep the client still while the surgery is ongoing.

hair transplant procedure
Hair Transplant procedure: Wikimedia

The process involves removing healthy hair follicles from the donor site, typically the back of the head, and inserting them into the balding spots through small incisions. 

If you opt for FUT, a strip of your hair is removed all at once, while for FUE, individual follicles are removed and inserted throughout the process.

Hair transplant has to be done by a trained surgeon and requires the use of saline sprays and medical head washes as aftercare.

Scalp micropigmentation

Scalp micropigmentation is a cosmetic procedure where hair follicles are replicated using microneedles and pigments. This procedure does not need anesthetics and is also referred to as a hair tattoo.

hair tattoo

The whole process is usually divided into two to four treatments, where the artist uses different shades of pigments to make the tattoo look like natural hair.

The ink for SMP, however, does not use metals and although it lasts for years, it is not permanent. A touch up is recommended every 3-5 years.

Duration of the Treatment

Hair transplant

Depending on the size of the graft, the operation can take about 8 to 10 hours. The anesthesia can take 24 hours to wear off so you will need someone to drive you home or you can stay overnight at the hospital.

After the treatment, you may have to take a week off at work. Within two weeks, the transplanted hair will fall off, and new hair will grow in about 6 to 9 months. Visible results can be achieved after about 12 to 18 months.

Scalp micropigmentation

SMP is usually quicker and requires an average of three appointments, each one lasting around three hours with 2-3 sessions to complete the look. The results are immediate and you can easily see your new hairline after every session.

A break of one to four weeks is given in between appointments to allow the ink to set naturally into the bald spots. This way, the artist can make adjustments and see how best to apply the pigments to give you more natural-looking results.

Pain Level

Hair transplant

Since anesthetics are used for hair transplants, you will not feel any pain during the procedure. However, there can be pain and discomfort a few days after the surgery, in which painkillers are recommended.

After three to five days, the pain will subside and you can get back to your regular routine, though post-procedure care must be followed.

Scalp micropigmentation

The pain level when getting micropigmentation generally depends on your pain tolerance. Most clients put it at 6-7 on a scale of 10, but we assure you that it is less painful than a traditional tattoo. This is because the pigments are only implanted into the upper dermis of the skin for cosmetic tattoos.

In my technique, I do not use local anesthesia so that it does not interfere with ink absorption and is thus maximized.

There is also no downtime and you can get back to your normal daily activities after every session.

What are the side effects?

Hair transplant

irritation and allergies due to hair transplant

Itching is a common side effect after the surgery, although you are highly advised against scratching the treated area. Doing so can cause infection and inflammation of the follicles.

The donor region and the area with the newly transplanted hair are both at high risk of infection. These infections can be addressed by antibiotics prescribed by your doctor.

Scalp micropigmentation

A plus side to this cosmetic procedure is it has little to no side effects since the ink used is always hypoallergenic.

To be extra sure, artists do a patch test on your skin to see if there will be any allergic or bad reaction before proceeding with the treatment.

How much does it cost?

Hair transplant

Hair transplants typically cost around $4,000 to $15,000 depending on how much hair is needed to be transplanted. The actual cost can still be greater (even up to $50,000 or more) This depends on factors such as the surgeon’s expertise, clinic location, and type of procedure.

Also, this is not covered by insurance since insurance companies treat this as a cosmetic procedure.

You should also consider the additional costs for aftercare and medications in case of an infection.

Scalp micropigmentation

Scalp micropigmentation is a hair loss solution costing just around $2500 to $6000. The aftercare is also inexpensive – you may just need cocoa butter or moisturizer for your scalp.

Minor retouch can be done every three to five years and costs less than the regular treatment.

Which is more effective?

hair loss

Hair transplant

Hair transplants are ideally a permanent solution to give you a full head of natural hair, however, the result may not be always satisfactory. Sometimes, new follicles do not produce any regrowth of normal hair, or regrowth occurs but abruptly stops.

You may have to engage in post-surgery treatments but even then, the new hair may look synthetic instead of natural.

Scalp micropigmentation

Scalp micropigmentation is mainly for people who want to avoid surgery. This has a very high success rate and also produces reliable results.

Hair tattoo or scalp micropigmentation
Scalp Micropigmentation Before and After

This procedure can give you that clean-shaven look, or can even change your hairline appearance the way you want it. The final result is always more natural-looking and easy to maintain.

Scalp Micropigmentation vs Hair Transplant – which is right for you?

scalp micropigmentation vs hair transplant

Hair transplants and scalp micropigmentation have their own benefits, but there is always one that is more fit for your needs.

If you are still confused, we suggest looking at the facts, and you will see that scalp micropigmentation is almost always the best solution! It saves you time, and money when it comes to the procedure taken and treatment costs.

It also saves you from the hassle of dealing with side effects. Aside from giving you a natural finish, scalp micropigmentation also saves you from the hassle of having to redo your hair loss treatment.

Hair loss problems? Studio Conceal is here to help

Thinning hair, bald patches, or a receding hairline can be resolved easily with no downtime. Check the scalp micropigmentation before and afters and see the results of my happy clients who got their confidence back. Book a free consultation today.

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