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‘My face in someone else’s hands’: A qualitative study of medical tattooing in women with hair loss

Stock, Nicola Marie; Sharratt, Nicholas David; Treneman-Evans, Georgia; Montgomery, Kerry; Denman, Rae; Harcourt, Diana; at the Centre for Appearance Research, the VTCTFoundation Research Team

‘My face in someone else’s hands’: A qualitative study of medical tattooing in women with hair loss Thumbnail


Nicola Stock
Occasional Associate Lecturer - HAS - HSS

Georgia Treneman-Evans

Kerry Montgomery

Rae Denman

the VTCTFoundation Research Team at the Centre for Appearance Research


The psychological and social impact of hair loss and its ongoing treatment can be considerable. Medical treatments are not always successful, and alternative treatments, such as medical tattooing, are growing in popularity. The aims of this study were to explore adults’ motivations, experiences, and self-perceived outcomes in relation to medical tattooing. Individual telephone interviews were conducted with 22 women from the United Kingdom aged 26–67 years who had undergone medical tattooing in the past 5 years related to hair loss. Interviews were transcribed and inductive thematic analysis was performed. Appearance concerns, loss of self-confidence/identity, and the practicalities of daily upkeep were cited as reasons for seeking a semi-permanent solution. Trust in the practitioner and the ongoing costs of tattoo maintenance were important considerations in participants' decision-making process and their overall satisfaction with treatment outcomes. Participants felt the emotional impact of hair loss and the subsequent need for appearance-restoring treatment remains unrecognised. This study provides insight into participants’ perceptions of an under-researched and unregulated but widely accessible treatment. Implications for the decision-making process are discussed, and suggestions for health professionals are offered.


Stock, N. M., Sharratt, N. D., Treneman-Evans, G., Montgomery, K., Denman, R., Harcourt, D., & at the Centre for Appearance Research, T. V. R. T. (2022). ‘My face in someone else’s hands’: A qualitative study of medical tattooing in women with hair loss. Psychology, Health and Medicine, 27(7), 1431-1442.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 18, 2021
Online Publication Date Feb 9, 2021
Publication Date 2022-10
Deposit Date Jun 7, 2021
Publicly Available Date Jun 11, 2021
Journal Psychology, Health and Medicine
Print ISSN 1354-8506
Electronic ISSN 1465-3966
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 27
Issue 7
Pages 1431-1442
Keywords hair loss; visible difference; alopecia; medical tattoo; decision-making; qualitative; patient perspective; Applied Psychology; Clinical Psychology; Psychiatry and Mental health
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Peer Review Statement: The publishing and review policy for this title is described in its Aims & Scope.; Aim & Scope:; Received: 2020-06-11; Accepted: 2021-01-18; Published: 2021-02-09


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