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Does SMP Hurt?

Scalp micropigmentation (SMP) is an innovative medical tattooing technique used to mimic the appearance of growing hair follicles on a full shaved head of hair. It can be used to mask all forms of permanent hair loss such as alopecia and male or female pattern hair loss, so it is an incredibly worthwhile procedure. However, you might be wondering what the catch is and how much pain you will be in. Here is an explanation for all your pain-related queries.

Discover Your Pain Threshold

We might have all heard it before - people telling us that they have either a low or high pain threshold, but how are you supposed to measure your own? The truth is that it is incredibly difficult to measure pain because it is such a personal and subjective thing; however, the method that is commonly used is the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS). This is where you are asked to mark your pain from zero (no pain at all), to 10 (the worst pain imaginable). Most people when experiencing pain will mark it as a 7.

What is important with this score is that you track the numbers as they go up and down depending on the treatment, recovery, or further injury. This way, you will be able to measure your score against others that have experienced SMP and decide whether it sounds like the kind of pain you can manage or not. Just remember, however, that what might have been a painful experience for someone else, might be totally manageable for you.

Pain Management

If you’ve decided that you will be able to deal with the pain, you can learn about how the practitioners commonly manage the pain associated with this procedure. Firstly, a topical numbing cream will be applied to reduce the sensation of pain on the area of the head that is being treated. You should be mindful, however, that this cream only slightly decreases the sensation of pain and therefore, you should still expect some discomfort, depending on your pain tolerance.

You might be wondering whether any skin sensitivities such as acne scarring or a psoriasis flare-up will increase the pain of the procedure. The truth is that these kinds of sensitivities make it difficult to apply pigment to the inflamed skin and therefore your practitioner may ask you to re-schedule your appointment or be completely unable to perform it at all. This is something to discuss during your consultation before you book an appointment.

Minor Discomforts

Following the pain that you will have experienced in the procedure, there are some other minor discomforts to consider before you can put your procedure to the back of your mind. First of all, you should be aware that you will most likely need to return for follow-up procedures, even if the area that is being treated is only very small. This is because SMP is a process of layering color, which can fade over time and needs to be kept topped up if it is going to mimic the look of real hair follicles. This is something to consider if you have a particularly low pain threshold because you will need to endure the pain for more than one treatment.

Furthermore, you should consider how long the treatment takes – it typically lasts between 4 and 5 hours, which is in no way a quick procedure if you were hoping to get it done within half an hour and then enjoy the rest of the day shopping. Also, if you want to be outside after your procedure, you will need to wear a hat at all times until the fifth day after treatment, where you can expose your head to around one hour of sunlight. Nevertheless, no sunlight is best since this will mean better retention for your new head of ‘hair’. Additionally, you won’t be able to shower your head until four days after treatment or be able to go to a swimming pool, sauna or steam room, although this is a small price to pay for the incredible treatment that you will have received.

To answer the question, ‘does SMP hurt?’ is quite tough because it depends on a variety of factors; most of which depend on your own personal experience with pain and your ability to cope with it. The minor discomforts that you can experience after the procedure might not be physically painful but can be difficult to deal with mentally.


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