Scalp Micropigmentation: Cost & Procedure | Jae Pak MD Medical

Patients of Jae Pak, M.D. who received SMP Treatment.

As the field of hair restoration advances and expands, we’re seeing widespread adoption of a procedure called Scalp MicroPigmentation, or SMP.

Unlike traditional hair transplant methods, SMP does not deal with hair harvesting or grafts but rather the use of tiny pigmentation dots to create the appearance of actual hair.

Thousands of satisfied clients undergo SMP procedures each year, and many more clinics are proudly adding it to their lineup of services. What do you need to know about SMP in terms of procedure and recovery, and what are the key points to consider when finding a clinic?

Let’s discuss SMP in full, so you can make the best decision given your circumstances.

SMP Explained

SMP is an anomaly in the world of hair restoration since no real hair is removed, processed, or grafted, as is typical with methods such as strip surgery or follicular unit excision.

Instead, SMP is a medical-grade tattoo meant to shade and cover areas of the scalp with insufficient coverage and density from natural hair. When performed properly, patients enjoy the appearance of healthy, short-cropped hair in areas that have experienced loss or thinning.

Of course, the process is far more involved than simply targeting and shading certain areas of the scalp with pigment. Doctors and technicians must be highly skilled, with an eye for aesthetics and a complete understanding of the client’s vision.

With SMP, outstanding results can be achieved within a relatively short time frame. However, more than one session is usually required to cover areas on the scalp.  

Who is SMP For?

There is a surprisingly diverse number of applications for SMP, and it has helped clients with a wide variety of needs due to its highly customized approach.

Men

Most men considering SMP have experienced hair loss due to androgenetic alopecia on the scalp, better known as the typical male-pattern balding on the hairline and vertex.

While some men opt for hair transplantation methods to address this issue, others find that SMP offers a more permanent solution for achieving a buzz-cut look that they can maintain more efficiently and consistently.

SMP is also a great option for men who have experienced hair loss due to trauma such as burns, autoimmune illness, or reaction to medical treatments such as chemotherapy. In these cases, standard hair transplantation is not viable, and SMP presents a better aesthetic option for the long term.

Finally, many patients who have undergone FUT strip surgery or multiple rounds of FUE may want to consider SMP to add visual coverage to scars on the donor area of the scalp, located at the back of the head towards the neck.  

Women

Most women do not opt for a buzz-cut look on the scalp. However, SMP is highly effective at adding the appearance of greater density in thinning areas for women as they age.

Skilled SMP technicians create the ideal pigment and fill areas along the center part of the hair, reducing the contrast between the hair and scalp color when patients are under bright light or at the beach.

Combined with medicines like Rogaine, natural supplements, and lifestyle changes, women can drastically improve the appearance of thinning hair with SMP as an extra element of coverage on the scalp.

What is the SMP Process?

If you think you might be a strong candidate for SMP, it’s time to begin the journey. Here is the step-by-step process you can expect from your SMP experience, start to finish.

Consultation

Like all hair restoration treatments, SMP starts with a consultation. You will sit down with a doctor for a meeting face to face and discuss your history of hair loss, as well as other relevant pieces of medical information.

The consultation is important because doctors will determine the exact amount of pigmentation necessary for the procedure, which areas need the most coverage, and the shape and size of the marks to make the results appear as natural as possible.

Top-tier surgeons will also take note of hair color and scalp color to create a customized ink that will be used during the actual SMP procedure. This step is key to ensuring maximum realism for the final results from SMP and can make all the difference in overall patient satisfaction.

At the end of the consultation, the client and doctor will discuss pricing, scheduling, and the logistics of the procedure. 

Depending on the scope of treatment, SMP can cost anywhere between $3000 to $5000 for a single section of the scalp, while full-scalp treatments can run into the $10,000 range for the upper tier of practitioners.  

Procedure

On the day of the surgery, clients will enter the clinic and have a final meeting with doctors and technicians before proceeding to the main treatment room.

The client will then be seated and made comfortable in a reclined position, and they’ll be given the option to watch TV, enjoy music, or simply relax as the surgeon begins the treatment.

The instrument used for SMP is not unlike a tattoo pen, although the mechanism used to deposit pigment into the scalp tends to be more precise and delicate. The pigment does not go deep into multiple layers of skin like a tattoo.

In most cases, several different disposable micro-needles are used to ensure the clean and consistent distribution of pigment. The process is highly focus-heavy and labor-intensive for surgeons, especially if they use proprietary technologies and inks to achieve exceptional results.

From the patient’s perspective, some discomfort may occur due to the repeated insertion of microneedles into the scalp over many hours. Clients have the option to take local anesthetics or sedative medication to reduce the perception of pain and enjoy a more comfortable experience.

In all, a single SMP treatment will take anywhere between two and four hours, and clients can drive home that same day to begin the recovery process.

Recovery and Permanence

It’s extremely important for clients to follow the directions of the clinic to the letter to maximize the results of their SMP procedure and keep side effects to a minimum.

Patients will be advised to stay out of the sun and avoid steam baths and saunas, for up to 30 days following the procedure. No swimming in pools or oceans is permitted either. You will also want to keep physical activity, and strenuous tasks to a minimum as the pigment settles and heals within the scalp.

Doctors may also prescribe a certain type of medical shampoo or moisturizer to lock in the pigmentation and keep it from fading in the first few days of recovery. Discomfort should be minimal, and the affected areas should be fully healed within a week to ten days.

After that initial recovery period, patients may return to the clinic for yet another session, whether to add extra coverage to the designated area or work on another region of the scalp.

Multiple sessions over many months may be required to achieve optimal results across the entire scalp.

SMP treatments are considered semi-permanent, meaning that the micro-tattoo will fade slightly over the years due to sun exposure and the breakdown of the pigment itself. Touch-ups might be necessary down the road to restore the initial density and depth of the SMP treatment.

Possible Side Effects

Like all hair restoration methods, SMP does come with some risks and the possibility of side effects.

The most common SMP side effect is a slight allergic reaction to the pigmentation or a strong response to the needling of the skin. Patients may experience redness or itching in the area following treatment or possibly some swelling and inflammation.

Lymph nodes around the base of the skull or neck may also become swollen following SMP. In rare cases, this could mean infection, and patients must quickly contact doctors if these signals continue to show.

Prestigious clinics take hygiene and sanitation extremely seriously for SMP and all other procedures – one of many reasons why you should always opt for a quality clinic.

Finding the Best SMP Clinics

To get the most mileage out of your SMP treatment and reduce unwanted risk, we advise you to research the best hair restoration clinics in your area and ensure ideal outcomes.

While SMP does not require certification in the same way we expect for FUT or other transplant methods, you want to go to a reputable surgeon with vast experience in the field of hair restoration – not your everyday tattoo artist or cosmetic tech.

This way, you will get the best methods, technology, and the most sanitary conditions for your procedure, along with quality inks that last for optimal results.

Read plenty of reviews from real patients online, and compare doctors based on their before-and-after galleries as you narrow down your decision.

Don’t hesitate to take several consultations before deciding, either. SMP is a procedure worth waiting for and getting the best results possible!

Sources:

Is SMP Safe? | Trillium Ink

SMP Explained | Hair to Stay NY

Find out if Scalp MicroPigmentation is right for you.

Speak with Jae Pak, M.D. today!

SMP Patient Gallery

View the Before and After Results of Actual Patients of Jae Pak, M.D.

Find out if Scalp MicroPigmentation is right for you.

Speak with Jae Pak, M.D. today!

Scalp MicroPigmentation

Scalp MicroPigmentation

Medical grade tattooing to hide hair loss and add the look of thickness and density.

SMP, like Microblading, is a permanent, non-surgical tattooing process for Men and Women to create the look of hair. 

Trained medical technicians can create a look of very short hairs to mimic a buzz cut, or create a shading effect to give the illusion of thicker hair where hair already exists. 

This Jae Pak MD Patient received Scalp MicroPigmentation.

At Jae Pak MD Medical, our medical technicians are full time, trained by Dr. Pak, and have 5-10 years of experience each. 

Scalp MicroPigmentation is a great, non-surgical option to enhance the results of a hair transplant surgery or provide another option for patients looking for something that is less invasive. People who are not good candidates for hair transplant surgery or just want to cover a scar often have SMP instead. 

Scalp MicroPigmentation can help in the three following areas:

Thousands of men and women who are trapped with their thinning hair or a botched hair transplant scar will testify that Scalp MicroPigmentation is a life-changing experience. (see our Real Self reviews).

There are three different conditions where Scalp MicroPigmentation can help:

1. Create a thicker, fuller look to thinning hair – SMP creates a shading effect to make your hair look more dense when combined with your thinning hair. The stark contrast between your hair color and scalp color is removed, so even when you are standing under bright light or swimming in a pool, you look like you have a thicker, fuller head of hair. Rain, wind and sun or bright lights are no longer an issue!

Before and After SMP Treatment for Female Patient
Before and After SMP Treatment for Actual Patient of Jae Pak, M.D.

2. Create a clean, buzzed look – With SMP, you can create the illusion of hair even if you are completely bald, or want to cover where a bald spot exists! 

3. Camouflage scalp scars – You don’t have to worry about standing in front of the line or sitting in the front row because you are concerned someone will see your hair transplant scar. SMP can work to disguise the pale scar on the back of your head from a strip surgery, or hide the blotchy dots from an FUE surgery. You can wear your hair shorter without worrying about someone noticing your scar.

Actual Patient of Jae Pak, M.D.

Will Scalp MicroPigmentation Really Make A Difference?

Men and women from around the world come to see Dr. Pak about botched hair transplant scars or thinning hair, and are amazed by the results. They are no longer self conscious and are so happy to have found a solution.  (see our RealSelf reviews).

Actual Patient of Jae Pak, M.D.

How does SMP create the look of real hair?

SMP creates the illusion of real hair by creating a look of a shaved scalp with a five o’clock shadow or filling in patchy spots where some hair still exists. This technique takes the right combination of artistry and technical skills to create the best results. The final results are determined by the level of skill of the doctor and staff, as well as the ink that is used. 

This form of medical grade tattooing is done on a different dermal layer than a regular tattoo. A special ink developed by Jae Pak, M.D. is used right under the skin surface to create a permanent layer of coloring. Traditional tattoos are deposited in a much deeper dermal layer than SMP. 

By placing the SMP ink in the upper dermal layer, the ink creates more of a look of a natural hair follicle. 

Can I finally wear my hair short and hide my hair transplant scar?

The answer is not so simple. We realize you may want to have the SMP procedure so you can wear your hair short without worrying about your hair transplant scar showing through. SMP can disguise your linear hair transplant scar or patchy FUE scars, but there is an important limitation.

You cannot keep your hair too short or the shape of the scar will show through like a line or a step in the contour of your hair. In addition,  certain lighting conditions and angles, will expose the scar to the discerning eye.

Does the SMP ink run or fade?

SMP creates a permanent shading effect that will not run, but can fade over time. Occasionally, patients return for a touch up to make the ink slightly darker, but many go 3-10 years without ever needing a touch up. 

Unlike using over the counter temporary topicals or concealers such as Caboki, Toppik and Dermmatch, Toppik, which can run when you sweat or get your hair wet, SMP creates no mess! You can do any activity without having to worry about the color. 

Intrinsic and  Extrinsic fading can take place:

Intrinsic fading is unavoidable and takes place due to the body’s natural exfoliation process and tendency to try to get rid of foreign particles on the skin. 

Extrinsic fading can be avoided by the following:

  • Washing your scalp within the first three days of your SMP procedure
  • Using a steam room or sauna within the first three days of your SMP procedure
  • Avoiding or limiting exposure to direct sunlight
  • Avoiding topicals containing alcohol such as hairspray, Rogaine and other topical hair and scalp treatments
  • Avoiding less experienced clinics and technicians that use inferior ink or untrained SMP technicians.

Jae Pak, M.D. is a pioneer in Scalp MicroPigmentation and combines his technical skills and artistry to train the best SMP technicians in the world. He mixes his own ink and customizes the color for his patients. The SMP technicians of Jae Pak MD Medical are all full time staff members, with years of experience. The best way to avoid extrinsic fading of the SMP ink is to have your procedure at a reputable clinic that uses experienced technicians and the highest quality ink. 

Can I change my hair color if I have had SMP? 

Yes, because SMP when mixed with existing hair creates a shading effect. It does not matter if your hair color changes. The shading will create a look of thicker, denser hair when surrounded by the existing hair regardless of the color. Will SMP help me hide my FUT or FUE hair transplant scar, even if I wear my hair short?

Will SMP help me hide my FUT or FUE hair transplant scar, even if I wear my hair short?

SMP will definitely help cover linear or patchy hair transplant scars, but the scar will lack the natural texture of actual hair. Although the scar will be camouflaged with SMP by covering the contrast in color between the scalp and hair. However, in certain light, you will still be able to notice the indentation of the scar, especially if your hair is kept extremely short. 

SMP used to hide the spotted scar of a Jae Pak MD Patient

How many sessions of SMP is needed?

At Jae Pak MD Medical, we prefer our patients have two to three sessions within a twelve month period. The first two sessions should be performed within 2-3 weeks of each other if possible to create a layering of the ink color. Our price includes up to the three sessions for one price and there are no hidden fees.

The time between sessions allows the skin to exfoliate. The time between sessions does not have to be exactly 2-3 weeks apart and can be scheduled to accommodate the patients scheduled. 

Touch ups are available anytime after the first twelve month and only require one session at a greatly reduced returning patient fee.

How long does each SMP session last?

The length of the session will last will depend on the number of areas of the scalp the SMP technician will be working on. Sessions can last between 4-8 hours.

Do I need to be sedated for my SMP session?

At Jae Pak MD Medical, you have the option to have light sedation during your SMP. As a result, you may feel slightly groggy or tired after your procedure. You can resume normal daily activities after your SMP session, however, we recommend waiting until the next day to resume your normal routine if you have chosen to have light sedation. (We highly recommend light sedation as it will help you stay relaxed and more comfortable while your SMP technician works on your scalp.)

Can SMP help redefine my hairline?

Yes, some patients prefer a softer more natural looking hairline while others like a linear look. Dr. Pak will work with each patient to create the customized look they desire. 

Can SMP be performed for facial hair?

Yes, the look of facial hair such as goatees and beards can be enhanced to achieve a thicker, fuller look or provide coverage for a scar.

Is Scalp MicroPigmentation a hair tattoo?

Yes, SMP is a medical grade tattooing process that creates the illusion of hair on a bald scalp or under and around existing hair. 

Patient Frederiq Marc of Jae Pak M.D. – Received a Hair Transplant and SMP to restore his hairline.

How is SMP different from a regular tattoo?

SMP is applied in a different dermal layer closer to the skin’s surface than a regular tattoo. This allows the ink to replicate the look of a hair follicle, versus a blob of ink like a regular tattoo. 

How do you match my hair or skin color?

We do not try to match the exact color but instead create a shading effect that simulates the look of a five o’clock shadow or creates a look of density underneath the existing hair. The result is you will not be affected if you change your hair color or naturally turn grey over time. 

Can a hair transplant and SMP be performed in conjunction with each other?

Yes, but not on the same day. Many patients like to have SMP after a hair transplant to increase the look of fullness and lessen the contrast between the color of the scalp and their hair. However, both procedures cannot be performed on the same day. 

Am I required to shave my scalp before an SMP session?

No, but we do recommend you cut your hair to the shortest length you would feel comfortable wearing it, now or in the future, so our doctor and SMP technician are able to blend the SMP into your hair. When your hair is longer, it is easier to hide bald or thinning spots. By cutting your hair to its shortest length, we will know how to best blend the SMP with the hair to create the most natural and fullest look possible. 

Does Scalp MicroPigmentation look like real hair?

Nothing can replace the look and texture of real hair. However, SMP gives the illusion of real hair where there is none or in areas thinning is occurring. A skilled and artistic physician and SMP technician can blend the SMP in such a way that it is very difficult to tell that someone has had SMP, even from close up. 

Patients of Jae Pak, M.D. who received SMP Treatment.

SMP can help those with bad scarring from a previous procedure, those who have had a botched hair transplant and those who no longer have donor hair available. SMP gives our patient a non-surgical option that can help them regain their confidence! 

Is Scalp MicroPigmentation permanent like a tattoo?

SMP is very similar to a regular tattoo, as it is permanent but can fade over time. You may need touch ups now and again. Most of our patients are still satisfied with the color of their pigment five years after their SMP sessions. However, we occasionally have patients that prefer their pigment very dark and like a touch up after 1-2 years. Touch ups at Jae Pak MD Medical are performed at a greatly reduced rate for returning patients and only one session is needed.