Scalp Micropigmentation

Scalp micropigmentation, also known as a hair tattoo, can cover bald spots or thinning hair without surgery. Providers use thin needles to deposit tiny dots of pigment (color) on the scalp. This treatment can cover bald spots or create a shaved head look.


A healthcare provider in gloved hangds uses a small needle to inject pigment the scalp in scalp micropigmentation.
In scalp micropigmentation, your healthcare provider deposits medical-grade pigment on your scalp to create a natural, hairlike appearance.

What is scalp micropigmentation?

Scalp micropigmentation is a cosmetic treatment for thinning hair or hair loss. It’s sometimes also called a hair tattoo. A provider uses thin, small needles to deposit tiny dots of pigment (color) on the scalp. These dots give the appearance of thicker hair. Scalp micropigmentation pigments are cosmetic-grade, permanent inks.

When a skilled technician performs scalp micropigmentation, it can hide thinning areas on your scalp. It may also hide birthmarks or scars. The treatment can also give the illusion of having shaved hair or a “buzz cut” on people who are bald. Scalp micropigmentation is noninvasive and doesn’t require surgery or anesthesia.


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Who is scalp micropigmentation for?

Scalp micropigmentation is a type of micropigmentation (permanent makeup). The treatment can create the appearance of thicker hair in people who have:

Does scalp micropigmentation grow hair?

Scalp micropigmentation doesn’t grow hair or change your natural hair growth. It’s not a hair loss treatment. It also won’t cause hair loss or damage your existing hair follicles. Scalp micropigmentation is a way to make it look like you have fuller, thicker hair.


Procedure Details

What happens before scalp micropigmentation?

Before scalp micropigmentation:

  1. Wash your hair and scalp before your appointment.
  2. When you arrive, your practitioner marks the areas of the scalp that they’ll treat.
  3. If you’re bald, you and your provider may create a hairline based on your facial structure, age and head shape.
  4. You and your provider choose pigments that match your hair color.
  5. Your practitioner applies numbing medicine to the scalp to make you more comfortable. The needles are thinner and smaller than tattoo needles, so scalp micropigmentation is usually less painful than getting a tattoo.

What happens during scalp micropigmentation?

Your provider uses a needle to deposit medical-grade pigment on the desired areas of the scalp. The dots vary in size, angle and depth to provide a natural, hairlike appearance.

Your treatment may take up to five hours, depending on the size of the treatment area. Most people need three or more treatments, spaced several weeks apart. Each treatment adds more pigment to create the look of thick hair.


What happens after scalp micropigmentation?

Since there’s no surgery or anesthesia, you can go back to daily life quickly. There are very few side effects of scalp micropigmentation. You may have some redness on your scalp that lasts several hours. You can wear a hat or scarf to cover the scalp if you want.

Risks / Benefits

What are the advantages of scalp micropigmentation?

The benefits of scalp micropigmentation compared to hair transplantation surgery include:

  • Less invasive (no surgery or incisions).
  • Less pain.
  • Lower cost.
  • No downtime.

What are the risks or complications of this procedure?

The biggest risks of scalp micropigmentation come with using an unlicensed or inexperienced practitioner who may not take the necessary precautions.

Possible risks include:

  • Allergic reaction to the cosmetic pigments.
  • Infection from unsterilized needles.
  • Unnatural or undesirable appearance after treatment.

To avoid these risks:

  • Choose a licensed scalp micropigmentation technician.
  • Ask to see before and after scalp micropigmentation photos of their work.
  • If you have allergies, discuss them with your technician before the procedure.

Is there anyone who shouldn’t get scalp micropigmentation?

People who are prone to keloids (scars that grow larger than normal) should not get scalp micropigmentation. The treatment can cause keloids to form in some people.

Recovery and Outlook

What is the recovery time after scalp micropigmentation?

After the treatment, you may need to avoid certain activities for several days, including:

  • Getting your scalp wet. Wear a shower cap while showering or take baths to keep your head dry. Don’t wash your hair or scalp until your provider says it’s OK to do so.
  • Heavy exercise.
  • Hot, steamy showers or steam rooms. The steam can cause moisture to collect on your scalp.
  • Sun exposure on your scalp.
  • Sweating or being in a hot environment.

How long does scalp micropigmentation last?

Scalp micropigmentation usually retains its appearance for four years or longer. The pigments used in scalp micropigmentation are permanent cosmetic pigments. They are not the same as tattoo ink, so they resist fading or color change.

When To Call the Doctor

When should I see my healthcare provider?

Call your healthcare provider if you notice possible signs of infection after scalp micropigmentation, such as:

  • Fever.
  • Pus or drainage.
  • Severe pain.
  • Severe redness.
  • Swelling.

Additional Common Questions

What questions should I ask my provider before scalp micropigmentation?

Once you’ve chosen a licensed and experienced micropigmentation specialist, ask them:

  • Am I a good candidate for scalp micropigmentation?
  • Are my expectations realistic?
  • How will you keep me comfortable during the procedure?
  • How should I care for my scalp after the procedure?

Does insurance cover scalp micropigmentation?

No. Scalp micropigmentation and permanent makeup are elective (optional) procedures. Ask your provider about the cost of the procedure and how many treatments you will need.

Is scalp micropigmentation worth it?

When performed by a skilled provider, many people are satisfied with the results of scalp micropigmentation. Because the pigments last several years, scalp micropigmentation is low-maintenance and long-lasting.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Hair loss or thinning doesn’t have to interfere with your self-confidence. People experience hair loss for many reasons, either due to conditions such as alopecia, male pattern baldness or hormonal conditions. Or perhaps you have a scar or birthmark you want to cover. Scalp micropigmentation is an effective, noninvasive way to make your hair look thicker.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 04/14/2022.

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