Applying some cosmetics can be bothersome, especially if you have a physical condition that makes it difficult (cataracts, severe arthritis, etc.) There's help. In a procedure known as micropigmentation, a trained doctor or specialist can inject iron oxide pigment into the middle layer of your skin (dermis) for results that last longer than the eyeliner you have in your bathroom drawer. This procedure has many names, including dermagraphics or permanent make-up.

Who's a candidate for micropigmentation?

Certainly people with physical limitations may seek out this procedure, but anyone (male or female) can have it done. Do you want to improve the appearance of thin eyebrows or lips? Do you have an uneven hairline, or allergies to make-up that create a problem? Micropigmentation may be a viable solution and can help enhance certain features.

What research should I do before undergoing micropigmentation?

Be sure to find a doctor or specialist who has experience in this procedure. Before having the procedure, visit the doctor you have selected. What should you look for? Examine the office area for cleanliness and professionalism. Are there appropriate waste containers for proper disposal of medical products used during the procedure? Are supplies properly stored? If your initial visit is not in the actual room where the procedure will be performed, do not be afraid to ask to see the room and request a general tour of facilities. Be aggressive - this is your appearance.

Some other questions to ask:

  • May I see your credentials?
  • May I see photos of your past work?
  • If possible, may I contact a current or former patient?
  • How long have you been practicing?
  • What is your follow-up care policy?

A dedicated, involved specialist should be able to answer any and all of your questions. Make sure you feel comfortable communicating with your doctor or specialist and that you feel open to ask anything that's on your mind.

You should have a consultation before the procedure, during which time you discuss your expectations with the doctor or specialist. At this time, he or she also will determine if you should receive anesthesia (usually local).

During the consultation, he or she may take a medical history. It's important that you are completely honest. Additionally, you should be honest for why you want micropigmentation so your doctor or specialist understands all of your concerns. He or she will evaluate your skin for tone, texture, and complexion in order to best match your natural colors with the proper pigment. He or she also may take photos.

How is micropigmentation done?

Typically, micropigmentation can be performed in an office setting. The procedure will be performed with a pen-like instrument or standard tattoo gun. Your doctor or specialist should wear medical gloves when performing the procedure. The procedure itself will take a short amount of time, perhaps 20 minutes to a half hour at most. If you are receiving anesthesia, you will be required to arrive earlier in order to let the anesthesia take effect. After the procedure, your specialist or doctor will provide you with an antiseptic to cleanse the treated region.

What should I do at home after the procedure?

You will be sent home the same day. You should expect swelling in the treated region. Your doctor or specialist will instruct you on how often you should ice the area and what type of ointment you can apply to the area.

If you are having the procedure performed in your eye region, you should plan to have someone drive you to the office and home again.

You may experience tearing, which is normal. The pigmentation typically will appear darker in the weeks following the procedure, but will fade over time.

Follow your doctor's instructions on what to avoid (such as peroxide) or sunlight. Either of these can damage your new look.

Contact your doctor immediately if:

  • You experience excessive swelling
  • You develop a fever or rash
  • The area feels excessively hot or burns

What is the follow-up care?

Some patients may require more than one treatment. Make sure you understand exactly how many treatments you will need. As the pigment fades over the years, you also may have to undergo additional treatments to maintain the look.

Does insurance cover it?

No. This is an elective, cosmetic procedure that you will have to pay for on your own.


© Copyright 1995-2016 The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. All rights reserved.

This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 4/15/2016...#11004