By Salvar Bjornsson, CEO at Vinci Hair Clinic

Scalp Micro Pigmentation (SMP) is a sophisticated tattooing technique, using pigment to replicate hair. It’s used to create the effect of more density in thinning hair, hide scarring or to create the look of a shaved head of hair. This is a procedure that is increasingly becoming more popular and accessible, which is good news for potential patients.

Like with the cosmetic surgery industry, there is not enough regulation around SMP and the clinics that offer it. Due to the increase in demand, this procedure is now readily available on the high street through tattoo studios, beauty salons and even online through discount sites like Groupon.

Choosing to undergo any cosmetic procedure is a big decision and it’s crucial that patients do not base their decision solely on price. Hair restoration is not exempt from this, and potential patients must ensure they select a reputable practitioner.

At Vinci Hair Clinic, we are the only medical clinic specialising in all types of hair restoration including hair transplant surgery, medical treatments for hair loss and SMP. Our surgeons and doctors oversee all treatments and a qualified technician who has been certified by our medical board, carries out all SMP procedures. Patients all have the chance to speak to a doctor, who will check their scalp condition, take a blood test to check any underlying health issues and administer local anesthetic, if necessary. Unfortunately though, this is not common practice throughout the industry.

Although it’s great for the patient that this technique is more accessible than ever, many non-medical clinics do not have enough understanding of progressive hair loss and often place pigment in the wrong areas.

Sadly, more recently we have seen a rise in patients coming to us for corrective procedures following botched treatment in a tattoo studio or beauty salon; pigment is made too dark and dense, hairlines are created in an un-natural way (sometimes making them appear like they are wearing a helmet!) and practitioners often apply pigment to the scalp with terrible results.

It can be hard to repair these cases as we have to first treat the scalp, removing the pigment by laser before starting the treatment again to create a more natural look. Not only is this more expensive than the original treatment, but it can take time. We see many patients who are so distressed that they are not comfortable resuming normal life until the treatment is complete.

It’s time for this to change. It’s time for the industry to be better regulated to protect patients from these ‘SMP cowboys’. There has been much awareness recently about better regulating the cosmetic surgery industry, with recommendations made in the Keogh report and horror stories frequently being reported in the national media.

The same awareness needs to be created for potential patients looking into SMP and other hair restoration treatments. Enough is enough.