When a 14 year old developed patchy hair loss from the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata
his confidence was shattered.
The initial small bald spots gradually progressed to larger patches of hair loss
, eventually covering most of his scalp, causing the Peterborough teen to lose his self-esteem as well as his hair.
However, now at 16 years of age, Jake Reed has found a clever way to cope with his baldness; he has undergone a six hour micropigmentation
session to have 'hair' tattooed back on.
Improved quality of life
It was Reed's mum who came up with the idea of him having the medical tattooing procedure after researching ways to help her son.
He became reclusive and self-conscious as a result of the worsening autoimmune condition, whereby the body attacks hair follicles, particularly after being teased at school. Although the microscopic hair fibres
- a cosmetic product used to disguise thinning hair (rumoured to be used by Wayne Rooney
and David Beckham
to hide their hair loss during public appearances) - he used twice per day to fill in bald patches proved a decent short-term solution, his mum was keen to find a more permanent way to turn her son's confidence around.
After looking into micropigmentation, which is also known as trichopigmentation and is a type of medical tattooing whereby fine needles and various different shades of ink are dotted onto the scalp to recreate the appearance of very short hair in a buzzcut style, she found that it was only available to over 18s in the UK. So mother and son headed to New York where the procedure - described by Jake as feeling "like a mosquito bite over and over again" - was carried out.
Fresh from his inking session, Jake Reed said, "I was really nervous but pushed through it... it turned out great."
Now that he has turned 16, Alopecia Areata treatment
is also an option, but - should his hair loss be too extensive - the tattoo, which is likely to require occasional top ups as the dye fades, will remain, ensuring he always has the appearance of hair.
Micropigmentation to hide hair loss
In addition to the scalp, micropigmentation can also be used to fill in patchy eyebrows
or recreate those lost to the more severe iterations of Alopecia Areata - Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis
. In these cases it is known as microblading and short, sweeping strokes are used to mimic fine eyebrow hairs rather than the stubble-style dots used on the scalp.
Micropigmentation can be of huge benefit to those who do not have the option of hair loss treatment
, but it is incredibly important that the procedure is carried out by a specialised professional. Micropigmentation is not the same as regular tattooing - the needles are finer and the inks are also different - so this is not something to visit a regular tattoo parlour for.
This is something various people, including former video blogger Yousef 'Kats' Erakat
, have found out after needing laser tattoo removal to rectify cartoon-like, unnatural-looking hairlines. These generally seem to have arisen from inexperienced tattooists drawing hairlines on far too low on the forehead, or by using thick straight marks to create an outline that they then coloured in a flat, matte black, as opposed to mimicking individual hairs in the myriad shades that make up our natural hair colour.
Anyone considering this procedure should do their research before choosing a practitioner and reading the NHS guide to permanent makeup
- another term which includes micropigmentation for hair loss - is advised.