by Dr. Dan McGrath, Diplomate, American Board of Hair Restoration Surgeons
Austin, TX: There have been many wonderful innovations in the field of hair transplantation in the past twenty years, and some not so wonderful.
In recent years there has been a tremendous amount of buzz in the hair transplant industry about a procedure known as Follicular Unit Extraction. Commonly referred to as FUE, this is the process of removal of the donor hair that is to be used for the transplant process, literally one graft at a time. The process has gained popularity for several reasons, not the least being the fear that many patients have of the strip excision for harvesting donor hair. Despite the fact that strip excision is the gold standard for the procedure many patients are fearful of potential scarring.
It is very important for the purpose of this article to understand exactly what the difference is between the two procedures. With any hair transplant procedure you must harvest hair from the donor area in the back of the scalp. How you harvest this hair is the only difference between an FUE vs Strip Excision procedure. The rest of the transplant process is exactly the same. In the FUE process a very specialized tool is used to extract the grafts and the tool that is used is completely up to the surgeon and his or her personal preference. There are several devises on the market that work very well, I for one use a device called the Safescribe Motorized FUE Extractor.
Now why does any of this matter? Why am I going on about boring details of types of surgical instruments and different types of harvest methods for hair transplantation?
Well enter Neograft which is a machine that is used to perform the extraction process for an FUE procedure, but surprise, surprise if you were to perform an internet search on Neograft you would be led to believe that it is an evolutionary new automated procedure for hair transplant surgery.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Neograft is nothing more than the name of a machine that is used for performing FUE graft harvesting, with or without a skilled hair restoration surgeon operating the device..
The Neograft machine has been aggressively marketed to many physician practices across the country with the promise of an easy and profitable method for the non hair transplant trained physician who are trying to increase their bottom line, but yet don’t have the surgical hair restoration experience and training or the know how to put together a successful hair transplant practice.
No worries there though because the company that sells the doctor this very expensive piece of equipment will also provide the doctor with an entire technical crew that will essentially perform the entire transplant procedure for the non hair transplant physician.
As an experienced hair restoration surgeon who has performed a full one year fellowship in hair restoration surgery I am aware of all the detailed skills that goes into a good hair transplant procedure. These are skills that are not acquired in a weekend course and certainly should not be delegated to a non physician staff of traveling hair technicians. Quality hair restoration comes from an experienced team and that team should have an experienced physician leader.
Hair transplantation is a relatively easy but highly work intensive procedure that requires a surgeon with good surgical and aesthetic skills. Each patient is different and brings special needs and cosmetic goals. This is not a procedure that you want performed by an inexperienced team of surgeon and technicians.
As a consumer please don’t be fooled by what seems to be the next best mouse trap. The Neograft machine in the proper hands is a wonderful tool but in the wrong hands it is a bad hair transplant waiting to happen. FUE has its place but should not be marketed as the preferred method for hair transplant for any and all patients and that is exactly what the marketers of the Neograft machine would have you believe.