Is Robotic Hair Transplant the Future for Hair Restoration Surgery?

Robotic hair transplant surgery may be the future but at what cost $$$? Currently on the market are several automated methods of collecting hair transplant grafts including NeoGraft and recently FDA approved ARTAS. These devices have shown speed and accuracy when in the right hands but the procedures currently are more expensive than traditional strip follicular unit hair transplantation. Neither device can currently make the incision sites in the receptor area or implant the grafts, both tedious manual tasks by physician and technicians.

The Restoration Robotics™ ARTAS System is an interactive, computer assisted technique utilizing image-guided robotics to enhance the quality of hair follicle harvesting. Operated under the direction of a physician, ARTAS has the potential to solve most of the technical challenges inherent in the manual follicular unit extraction (FUE) techniques.

During the two-year study, Dr. Sara Wasserbauer has been collecting data on the effectiveness of the ARTAS technology by itself and compared to manual hair transplantation techniques. Entering the final stage of the research, Dr. Wasserbauer will be examining the rate of hair growth in patients nine months after having their ARTAS System hair transplant.

“It’s quite amazing to think how far technology has come,” said Dr. Wasserbauer. “The use of robotics is already used in many fields of medicine – especially in surgical procedures. I’ve been very excited about this particular study and am enjoying being part of the research team to determine the pros and cons of using robotics in hair restoration.”

So far, Wasserbauer has found several benefits of using the robotics technology for follicular unit extraction, including:
• Shorter healing times due to minimal wound size with each graft
• Less invasive surgery
• Hair transplant completed in five hours, compared to eight to ten manual hours
• Less labor intensive for the surgeon

“The new ARTAS machine is not the NeoGraft, ” says Dr. Wasserbauer, “it is not entirely automated and does not remove the grafts from the donor are using suction – that part is still done by hand. It also avoids the problem of having a physician who is less proficient at doing the FUE procedure inadvertently transecting or otherwise damaging the individual hair grafts.”

The ARTAS represents the current state of the art for automated FUE. Not every physician will find it necessary to use this machine, and not every patient will be the ideal candidate, but the ARTAS will likely expand the use of FUE procedures by decreasing the amount of physician training and skill needed to perform it correctly. Plus, it is just plain cool in what it can do!

The ARTAS System combines several features including an interactive, image-guided robotic arm, special imaging technologies, small dermal punches and a computer interface. After the System is positioned over the patient’s donor area of the scalp, ARTAS is capable of identifying and harvesting individual follicular units. The follicular units are stored until they are implanted into the patient’s recipient area using the latest manual techniques.

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