The Newest Adjunct to Hair Restoration Surgery
Micro-pigmentation is artfully tattooing the scalp to match the hair color, thereby creating the illusion of more hair. Over the past several years, there have been a handful of physicians who have been tattooing the scalp, and they have discovered that if the ink is applied in very small, 0.5mm dots, rather than a solid field of color, the resultant color change is perceived by the human eye as an increase in hair density rather than just a colored scalp. Dr. Puig tried tattooing scalps to match hair color in the early 1980’s and abandoned the technique because the inks always faded with exposure to sunlight. The black ink turned blue and the brown turned yellow. That combined with a solid color distribution led to very disappointing results.
In 2014 two technological advances were made that completely changed the scalp pigmentation process, eliminating the long term side effect of color change. In Germany a tattoo machine was invented that can reliably provide a very shallow depth of penetration, making it possible to place the ink in the most superficial part of the skin, the epidermis. And in Spain, a chemist developed a tattoo ink that was both nontoxic and temporary, designing it to start fading about 18 months after application.
The combination of these two new technologies makes scalp micro-pigmentation a safe system that can be used to help patients with limited donor area improve their hair restoration surgery results. The fading inks, that at first thought seemed to be a limitation, is in reality a therapeutic advantage, because as the color of the patient’s hair changes, either naturally or with color elections, the tattoo color can be changed to complement the new color, without color contrast.
The fact that this color method applies the ink so superficially may make it possible to camouflage scalps with scarring diseases during their treatment and healing process. Never before has medicine provided any option to help people with these frustrating scalp dermatological diseases. Dr. Puig is now doing a small pilot study, to determine if this superficial micro-pigmentation of these scarring dermatosis aggravates the deeper inflammatory process.