SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Carpenter Ray Lopez says he began losing his hair several years ago. Instead of fighting it with surgery or pills, he's decided on a more permanent solution -- a tattoo.
After searching the Internet, he turned to a San Francisco clinic called His-Hair, which promises to restore almost any man's hairline, or at least the illusion of it.
"Just that illusion of a full head of shaved hair, just to have that hairline, youthfulness as well," explains clinical vice president Zang Miah.
"I've gotten a few tattoos here and there and went to a tattoo show and just thought what the heck," says Lopez.
Over the course of several hours, clinician John Chandler methodically recreates the look of Lopez' close cropped hair one dot at a time. The process is known as micro-pigmentation, and the goal is to blend the new hairline with the clients remaining hair.
Unlike the ink in standard tattoos, the hair pigment is created with a plum-based pigment, which the company says does not cause the kind of allergic reactions sometimes found with tattoos.
The color is blended based on a client's hair and skin tones.
Louis Rankin is a former running back with the Oakland Raiders. He says he'd now like to pursue a career in acting or broadcasting and believes the treatment fits his look.
"When it looks the most fresh is probably two to three days. I cut my hair probably once a week," says Rankin.
Three sessions are typically required. Like conventional tattooing, there is some moderate pain during the procedure. Clients must also keep their hair close cropped to preserve the illusion and are advised to wear sun screen since the pigmentation doesn't offer protection from the sun.
Still, Lopez says even having the illusion of a full hair-line is enough for both he and his wife.
"She says wow, 'You have hair again,' laughs, I said, technically not," Lopez says.
The micro-pigmentation procedure can cost between $800 to several thousand depending on the size of the area. Along with the permanent pigment, the company also offers a temporary version that lasts about two years
Written and produced by Tim Didion
New cosmetic option for hair loss