Scalp Micropigmentation Side Effects & Potential Risks

By PMUHub Editorial Team| Last updated on November 1, 2022

Here’s a list of scalp micropigmentation side effects and potential risks, along with ways to prevent and mitigate them.

scalp micropigmentation side effects

Image source: Freepik

Just like any micropigmentation procedure, scalp micropigmentation entails a healing process which is accompanied by certain side effects. But when the treatment is done right, they’re minor and go away within a few days.

When something goes wrong, however, there are certain risks.

Let’s explain the expected scalp micropigmentation side effects, how to handle them, but also the potential risks. Learn how to identify signs of something going wrong, and what to do if there are complications.

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What Are the Main Scalp Micropigmentation Side Effects?

As with any treatment that’s performed by opening up the skin, you can expect symptoms of skin regeneration and recovery as part of the SMP healing process. This means you can expect the following scalp micropigmentation side effects:

  • Lymph oozing or drops of blood (day 1)
  • Redness (days 1-2)
  • Minor swelling (days 1-2)
  • Tenderness (days 1-2)
  • The sensation of heat (days 1-2)
  • Tightness (days 2-7ish)
  • Dryness (days 2-7ish)
  • Minor scabbing (around day 3)
  • Then subsequent skin flaking (around days 4-7)
  • Itchiness (days 3-7)

These side effects of scalp micropigmentation can span out over 7-10 days after each session. The timeline is general, it may vary a bit. But if any of the symptoms is significantly prolonged outside of the general expectancy, contact your SMP artist. It may be a sign of complications.

We should also mention the color changes your SMP will go through during this time. In the first couple of days, the dots will look very dark. Then, after the flaking ends, they may look too light. This is normal – it’s how the pigments settle into the skin. The color should darken up over the weeks to come, and it’ll be replenished at further sessions.

Scalp Micropigmentation Side EffectsImage source: Unsplash

How to Minimize Micro Scalp Pigmentation Side Effects

Your artist will prescribe an aftercare routine that’s supposed to help your skin heal properly and the pigments settle into the skin, but it’ll also minimize the uncomfortable sensations.

Using your aftercare ointment is crucial. It’ll soothe the skin, rehydrate it, and minimize the itching. It’s also important you avoid activities that can cause further irritation, particularly sunlight exposure, sweating, and using aggressive products on your scalp.

Scalp micropigmentation side effects can be annoying, but they’re generally not that serious. Be patient and disciplined and everything will be fine.

Learn more about the SMP post-care routine here.

What Are the Main Scalp Micropigmentation Risks?

Potential scalp micropigmentation risks that emerge during the healing process come down to infection and allergies. Long-term risks have to do with how the pigment behaves over time, mainly the possibility of them migrating in the skin or changing color.

Let’s go through each point.


Since the SMP treatment implies breaking the surface of the skin, there’s always the risk of micro-wound contamination and subsequent infection.

Contamination can happen during the procedure, if the artist fails to meet all health and safety protocols down to the T, or afterwards, if you don’t follow the at-home aftercare instructions closely enough.

An SMP infection shares the symptoms of any other skin injury infection: itching, inflammation, pain, puss, fever or fatigue in more extreme cases. If you notice any of these, contact your artist.


Although it’s rare, some clients may encounter allergic reactions to the pigments or the numbing cream used during the treatment. Allergies can manifest themselves through irritation, itching, or even a rash.

This can be prevented by performing a patch test before the treatment.


When done right, SMP won’t compromise your skin. But if the artist’s technique isn’t perfect and they go too deep or overwork the skin, permanent scars may form over the punctures. Since SMP is done with a PMU machine, this is quite rare, but it’s still possible.

Pigment Dots Spreading

If the pigments are implemented too deep into the skin, into the layer where the cells are too loose to hold the pigment in place, the dots can spread over time, and end up looking unnatural. If you find an experienced artist who knows what they’re doing, this shouldn’t be an issue, though.

smp fixed after pigment spreadingImage source: Instagram @unyozibeauty

Pigment Changing Color

Sometimes, the pigments change color in the skin over time. The pigments will fade eventually, but they’re supposed to just gradually lose intensity, not turn.

But in certain cases the ashy gray can turn bluish or greenish after a while. This can happen due to several reasons:

  • Too much sunlight exposure
  • The pigment went too deep into the skin
  • The tone of the pigment was wrong for your skin tone and undertone
  • The pigment was low-quality, not stable enough
  • The color used wasn’t pigment at all, but rather traditional tattoo ink.

You Don’t Like the Results

Finally, there’s always a chance you don’t like the results and regret getting the treatment, even if everything goes right in theory. Scalp micropigmentation is supposed to look natural, but sometimes people are so used to their appearance being a certain way they end up dissatisfied with any changes.

If you’re not loving your SMP, we say give it some time. You probably just need a few months to get used to it.

If you don’t, there are correction or SMP removal options available.

how to fix scalp micropigmentation side effectsImage source: Instagram @carljbarton

How to Prevent These Scenarios

Risks related to poor technique are avoided by carefully choosing your artist. Take your time researching artists in your area and find someone who is licensed and certified, has years of experience and tons of satisfied clients. Looking at their portfolio is a must – the trick is to look for pictures of their work healed. Every result looks good when it’s freshly done, but the question is how it looks months or years down the line.

But the artist only does half the job. To prevent infection, you have to do your homework and keep up with the aftercare routine. This is the only way to prevent wound contamination in the days after the treatment, while the skin is closing up.

What to Do If Something Goes Wrong?

If you notice your SMP is being weird during the healing process, meaning if you’re experiencing symptoms that don’t fall under expected side effects, you should contact your SMP artist immediately and explain what’s happening. They’ll assess the situation and send you to a dermatologist if there’s cause for concern. The longer you wait to consult someone, the more serious the complication can get.

If it’s been a while since you got your scalp micropigmentation and if you notice some of the long-term side effects like a color change or pigment migration, again, get in touch with an SMP artist. They might be able to do a correction, or point you in the direction of removal.

Scalp Micropigmentation Side Effects & Risks – Main Takeaways

SMP is a non-invasive treatment that entails some minor side effects. As the scalp heals, clients encounter some uncomfortable sensations, but as long as they follow the aftercare routine, they’ll go away within 10 days.

Potential risks include infection, allergies, permanent skin damage, and the results changing color or shape over time. Generally, the treatment is quite safe if performed by a certified, licensed artist who knows how to keep the client safe and healthy.



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