What Is SMP?

Scalp micropigmentation (SMP) is a cosmetic treatment that creates the appearance of hair in people with baldness or thinning hair.

SMP uses a fine needle and ink to apply a tattoo of tiny dots to the scalp. This creates the appearance of short-cut hair.

SMP can provide a “buzz cut” or stubble effect on a bald head, or give the appearance of a denser head of hair beneath thinning hair.

This article looks at how SMP works, whom SMP may suit, potential risks, and what to look for in a practitioner.

How Does SMP Work?

SMP works by tattooing a pattern of dots onto the scalp to create the appearance of hair. The tattoo patterns resemble closely cut hair follicles.

The stippled effect of the tattoo can give the appearance of a full head of shaved or closely cut hair in a person with no hair. Or, it can provide depth behind thinning hair to create the appearance of a more dense head of hair.

SMP is different from a tattoo. SMP uses a fine needle, which injects pigment into the dermis layer of the skin. It does not inject as deep as a traditional tattoo.

People who want to change the appearance of balding or thinning hair may choose to have SMP. SMP may be suitable for people who have:

  • genetic balding
  • alopecia
  • a scar or birthmark on the scalp they want to cover
  • male or female pattern hair loss
  • hair loss from cancer treatments

SMP may be an alternative option for people who do not want hair transplantation or who have not achieved the results they wanted through hair transplantation.

Does SMP hurt?

A trained practitioner will perform SMP. Before starting the procedure, they will apply a local anesthetic or topical numbing cream to the scalp to reduce pain.

Some people may not experience any pain, but it may depend on each person’s pain threshold.