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Is Scalp Micropigmentation painful?


Scalp micropigmentation (SMP) is a widely popular cosmetic treatment used to deal with hair loss and baldness. The treatment aims at creating the illusion of fuller hair or adding density to thinning areas. Trained practitioners carry out the procedure by implanting tiny layered dots of pigment in different hues of black on the scalp. The dots are so skilfully created that they look like natural hair follicles and blend smoothly with the complexion. Cosmetic-grade permanent inks are used in this procedure, which is non-invasive and does not need any surgery or anesthesia.

Does Scalp Micropigmentation hurt?

The Scalp Micropigmentation (SMP) treatment is done superficially on the surface of the skin. It does not go very deep - only two layers into the skin dermis, and hence it is a fairly painless procedure. The microneedles used are relatively thinner than tattoo needles – as such, they penetrate the skin without causing too much pain. But, since it breaks the skin’s barriers, it might cause a certain level of discomfort.

Most users report experiencing a certain level of discomfort rather than actual pain during the process. It is estimated that on a scale of 1 to 10, pain levels may sit around 1 to 4 on average. The level of pain or discomfort level felt varies with each user and is influenced by a few factors as detailed below.

  • Tolerance levels / Pain threshold

Some people have a higher tolerance for pain than others. Environmental and psychological factors greatly influence a person’s perception of pain. A thorough understanding of the SMP process may help the client estimate how much it will hurt, if at all.

  • The area being treated

The actual area of the scalp being treated plays a big part. Some areas may be more sensitive than others. This may be attributed to differences in the thickness of hair or skin in different areas. Again, some areas on the scalp are more exposed to sun, wind, and other environmental factors. As a result, many people experience more discomfort or pain around the temples, the frontal hairline, and the crown. The area around the middle and back of the head is usually less sensitive to pain.

  • The condition and physical makeup of your skin

The condition of the scalp may influence the level of discomfort experienced by SMP. Skin conditions like dandruff etc. may make your scalp sensitive and this may cause a little more discomfort during the session. This needs to be treated before the session. Some people with thin skin and certain scars might also experience greater pain during sessions because those areas were already delicate, to begin with.

  • The duration of the session

Generally, a person may experience a mild discomfort and very low levels of pain during the first hour of the treatment. As the treatment progresses, these levels may or may not change, depending on your handling of the discomfort.

  • State of Mind

As mentioned earlier, the emotional state of a person can affect his/her pain threshold. Fear and pain are closely linked. When you are tense and nervous, you may be more sensitive to pain. Calm, relaxed clients tend to fare better than those who are overly stressed when dealing with discomfort.

  • Scar Tissue

Scar tissue can be a very sensitive issue for some people. The experience can vary from person to person. Some people may experience slight discomfort. Others may feel nothing at all!

These days, scalp artists use effective numbing solutions to numb the pain or reduce the discomfort so the client enjoys the treatment.

Steps that could reduce the discomfort during SMP

Do consult your scalp micropigmentation provider about the pain management options offered by the clinic. Some scalp micropigmentation clinics may offer topical numbing creams or other measures to ease any discomfort during your treatment. Ensure you discuss these options before scheduling your appointment. You should also try to stay as relaxed and calm as possible throughout your scalp treatment.

The steps enumerated below may also help manage discomfort before, during and after the SMP treatment session:


  • Avoid washing your hair at least 48 hours before SMP.

  • Do not use any oil, cream, gel, conditioner, or scented soap on the scalp.

  • Avoid intake of alcohol, medications, painkillers or caffeine for at least 48 hours before the SMP session.

During the session:

  • Keep yourself hydrated both before and throughout your SMP treatment session. Drink a lot of water.

  • Do ensure that you eat before your session starts. Many people say that their sensations intensify when they are on an empty stomach!!

  • Place yourself into the right frame of mind. Try not to focus on the sensation itself as this will amplify what you feel. Instead, sit back and relax. Find distractions – listening to music or watching your favourite show during the session may help!!

  • Take regular breaks. Sometimes all you require is to stretch your legs and get some fresh air.

Post SMP:

  • Keep your scalp clean and dry.

  • Do not touch, rub or scratch the scalp as it might affect the pigment or cause extra redness.

  • Ultraviolet rays can break down the pigment and ruin SMP results. As such, it is advisable to avoid sun exposure in the initial days after the procedure.

  • Avoid exercising or indulging in activities that may lead to excessive sweating e.g., saunas/ gyms.


To summarise, knowing your pain threshold, taking care of your scalp, having the right mindset and putting yourself into the hands of a certified practitioner will ensure a smooth treatment with minimal discomfort. Keep in mind always that the slight pain or discomfort experienced is worth it!! Scalp Micropigmentation not only conceals the devastation wreaked by hair loss but can restore self-esteem and confidence levels.

Frequently asked questions:

What does scalp micropigmentation feel like?

Most patients report that scalp micropigmentation feels like a series of light pinpricks. A topical numbing agent is typically applied to minimize discomfort during the procedure.

How long does scalp micropigmentation take to heal?

The healing time for scalp micropigmentation varies from person to person, but most patients experience mild tenderness or redness on the scalp for a few days after the procedure. Full healing usually takes about 4-6 weeks.

Can you feel scalp micropigmentation?

Patients may feel some discomfort during the procedure, but most report that any discomfort is brief and tolerable. After the procedure, some patients may experience mild tenderness or redness on the scalp, but they should not feel the micropigmentation itself as it is underneath the skin.

Does anyone regret SMP?

While it's impossible to speak for everyone, the vast majority of patients who undergo scalp micropigmentation are thrilled with the results and do not regret their decision. Scalp micropigmentation is a safe and effective cosmetic procedure that provides a long-lasting and natural-looking solution for those experiencing hair loss or thinning. With proper research and consultation with a qualified practitioner, patients can achieve a realistic hairline and fuller-looking head of hair. Many patients report a boost in confidence and self-esteem after the procedure. So, if you're considering scalp micropigmentation, don't let fear hold you back. With the right practitioner and mindset, it can be a life-changing experience


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