There are a number of solutions available to combat hair loss including drug-based remedies like finasteride and minoxidil, surgery-based options like hair transplant procedures and even concealers, be them temporary in fibre form or more permanent like a hair system.
Tricopigmentation is a relatively new alternative, basically a form of temporary scalp micropigmentation with a few key differences.
Modern tricopigmentation techniques are derived from SMP, a solution from hair loss that involves the placement of tiny pigment deposits within the upper dermis of the scalp. Each deposit is designed to replicate an individual shaven hair follicle.
When thousands of deposits are combined and blended with any remaining ‘real’ hair, the result is an incredibly realistic simulation of a full head of shaved hair. Essentially tricopigmentation is a temporary version of scalp micropigmentation, enabling the client to get used to the look before committing to a long term solution. In theory men should then proceed to have a permanent application, however in reality no clinic offers both options, so those who choose the temporary option tend to re-apply the treatment again and again.
The application of tricopigmentation is slightly different to scalp micropigmentation, however the primary difference is in the type of pigment used. Temporary pigments used in tricopigmentation are designed to fade out after 12-24 months, whereas scalp micropigmentation pigments can last for many years, even decades.
Tricopigmentation is fast becoming a popular solution alongside traditional options like hair transplant surgery, wigs and drugs. It is non-invasive and offers exceptional guaranted results when delivered by an experienced and well trained technician.
Unlike tattoos, tricopigmentation is a temporary technique. The reason why we choose not to offer our clients a permanent treatment is that everybody changes and our morphological features don’t remain the same over the years. We therefore want people to be free to decide whether to go on undergoing the treatment or to stop, as well as to change some details or to switch from a long hair look to a shaven one, etc.
The aftercare routine is also slightly different from permanent SMP. The tricopigmentation pigment is composed by particles whose dimension is smaller than the dimension of the macrophages of the immune system, thus enabling our body to absorb them in a period of time that varies from 2 to 3 years. The so called “Universal Brown” pigment has an ash grey colour that is similar to that of keratin, which is the typical colour of a hair just growing out of the follicle. You may have noticed that as time passes traditional tattoos can turn bluish or green. If this happened on the scalp, clients could experience terrible issues and their life could be negatively influenced by something that should on the other hand improve the quality of their life.
The Tricopigmentation pigment was developed in the laboratory so that the immune system can absorb it within 2-3 years depending on personal characteristics of the individual. Among the elements to consider: skin type, habits of the client, strength of the immune system, etc. As a consequence, it is impossible to foresee the exact timing of the fading process.
The main peculiarity of this pigment, that makes it unique, is the fact that its colour doesn’t change. It doesn’t turn blue nor green, and in fact it gradually fades out without leaving any residue, spots or macro-dots.
The particles that compose the Tricopigmentation pigment are centrifuged, filtered, encapsulated in a simil-silicone membrane that protects the skin. After this so-called “micronization” process, all the particles that compose the pigment have the same shape and dimension. This allows the immune system to absorb them in a constant and homogenous way. These characteristics prevent any change in its colour. All the particles are smaller than 15 micron and are therefore smaller than the macrophages of the immune system, whose dimension is 20 micron. After the process of absorption, the powders are expelled by our body, as any other unnecessary substance.
The specialized technician works in the upper dermis. This aspect represents another difference between Tricopigmentation and permanent options. SMP technicians work in the deep dermis.
The Tricopigmentation pigment has an ash-grey colour, which simulates the colour of keratin, the protein that constitutes hair. This colour can be seen when observing a shaven head because it is the one of new-borne hairs. The pigment can be adapted according to the hair colour and skin tone of the individual, ranging from dark blond to black. Recently new hydrophilic pigments were developed in order to be able to treat also very dark skin tones offering a natural result.
Tricopigmentation gives all clients the opportunity to decide whether to maintain their look or to let it disappear completely. It also allows them to modify their hairline choosing to let it recede according to their age. Shifting to a permanent solution is always an option since tricopigmentation is a very flexible technique. This can be a good solution once it is clear that hair loss won’t proceed further.
For thinning hair, tricopigmentation enables the simulation of the missing density. This applies regardless of how much hair the recipient has lost, and can even recreate a full head of hair on a completely bald scalp.
Recession of the frontal hairline is often the most visible sign of balding. This technique enables the client to rebuild their hairline to its original position, or whatever position is preferred.
Usually the result of hair transplant surgery, all manner of head scars can be hidden using tricopigmentation. The technique used is highly specialised, however when applied by an experienced technician, even the worst hair transplant scars can be very effectively concealed.
The unpredictable and recurring nature of alopecia, particularly areata or totalis, can make the conditions challenging to live with. Tricopigmentation enables the sufferer to completely hide the symptoms of scalp alopecia, even if the affected areas move or change in appearance.
Tricopigmentation is a form of scalp micropigmentation. The terminology does confuse some people, however the bottom line is that both permanent and temporary options are referred to as scalp micropigmentation, with tricopigmentation being used to describe the temporary version specifically. Often SMP terminology is used due to the greater volume for that keyword on search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing.
Yes, I believe they are. A competent technician from either discipline can produce results that are equally as good as the other. As always, the skill of your technician is the most important factor. Some people believe that tricopigmentation produces results that are more realistic than a permanent procedure. Whilst there are some great examples of temporary SMP out there, I do not agree that one is better than the other. The bottom line is that there are some very skilled tricopigmentation technicians out there, and some very bad scalp micropigmentation technicians, and vice versa. Some tricopigmentation technicians argue that permanent scalp micropigmentation is not ‘safe’, the logic being that when the procedure is topped up, pigments have to be layered on top of older pigment deposits, causing a merging of dots and a loss of individual dot definition, commonly referred to as the ‘helmet look’. Whilst I understand the logic to a point, in the real world the problem just doesn’t exist, as long as the client and/or technician didn’t go crazy with their density in the first place. By the time a top-up is required, the older pigment has usually faded sufficiently to avoid this problem. The many thousands of satisfied clients around the world who have had their first, second or even third round of top-ups would also counter this argument.
A full breakdown with supporting explanations is available via our tricopigmentation cost calculator. The average client with advanced hair loss will pay $2500 for a permanent procedure. Assuming a top-up every 4 years and an average top-up cost of £1500, the cost over 10 years will be around $5500. For tricopigmentation, the same client will pay $1000 on average for their procedure, and require the same again every 18 months. Therefore, the cost over 10 years will be around $6500. The lifetime cost of both procedures is similar, however price shouldn’t be the primary consideration anyway. By their nature, clients who choose tricopigmentation tend to be more risk adverse. It makes sense to choose the best artist you have reasonable access to, wherever they may be located and whatever their treatment cost may be.
There’s no right answer to this question. Tricopigmentation definitely has its place and is an ideal option for many people. You could argue that the procedure is lower risk, because any mistakes are not visible for anywhere near as long and do not therefore require laser removal. The procedure has a lower initial cost than permanent SMP too, making it accessible to more people. On the other hand, the general standard of scalp micropigmentation treatments performed around the world is improving all the time, as technicians gain more and more experience. Mistakes, while unfortunately still common at less established clinics, are less prevalent than they used to be. I estimate that more than 95% of all clients go through the process without a hitch. Furthermore, whilst permanent SMP costs more initially, it is more cost-efficient in the long run. I think the availability of two distinct options is a really good thing, however I cannot call one out as being better than the other as they both have equal merits.