Almost all men grapple with hair loss as they approach middle age. Receding hairlines and bald spots can be a tremendous source of stress for men, so much so that there's an entire market dedicated to developing products to help slow, stop, reverse and cover up the effects of balding. 

One new approach to combating hair loss is somewhat less than conventional, however. Rather than heading to the pharmacy or the dermatologist to help keep their heads hirsute, more and more men are instead heading to the tattoo parlor.

A hair-raising tattoo experience
People choose to get tattooed for a variety of reasons, from the aesthetic to the personal to the religious in some cases. Now, balding men have another motivation to go under the needle – hair loss treatment. While cosmetic tattoo procedures obviously can't regrow hair, the procedure – known by many names, including scalp pigmentation and cosmetic transdermal hair replication, according to ABC News – can help visually cover up the effects of balding.

The source reported that the procedure is actually different from conventional tattooing in that it uses a smaller-gauge needle than regular tattoos. Additionally, while tattooing injects ink into a deeper layer of skin, the scalp pigmentation process places the ink just under the top layer of skin. The smaller needle and shallower ink penetration are both designed to more closely mimic the appearance of actual hair – the source noted that regular tattoo needles would be too thick to produce marks that look like real hair follicles. 

Can the procedure get hairy?
Bad tattoos and tattoo regret are always a risk when someone decides to go under the needle, but when the process involves extensively tattooing such a prominent and visible part of the body, the risks are understandably magnified. Despite its similar roots, scalp tattooing is different enough from the standard practice that anyone considering the procedure should do his or her homework before committing to an appointment. 

For starters, it's crucial to make sure that the ink being used isn't standard tattoo ink, which, according to ABC News has a tendency to fade quickly and take on a grayish-blue tint. The source was clear to note that the practitioner should only be using ink that has been specially formulated to tattoo scalps. Of course, it's also important to note that while tattoo ink is permanent, hairlines and growth patterns aren't. Just because your hairline is receding in a given pattern now doesn't mean that that's what it will look like years down the road. Unfortunately, micropigmentation artists aren't clairvoyant, and can only tattoo based on your current hair growth pattern. If you expect that you're going to keep losing hair,  you'd better plan on making future scalp tattoo appointments – especially if you don't want to be left with a strange-looking pattern of ink on your head. 

While the procedure is no less safe than any other type of tattoo, it does require a bit more foresight on the part of the recipient. While the process can provide realistic coloration and hair patterns, it's important to remember that the end result will still be two-dimensional. Thus it doesn't make a lot of sense to pursue this course of action unless you're planning on keeping your hair buzzed very short – otherwise your hair will look inconsistent. 

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