3 Things to Know About Robotic Hair Transplants
by Dr. Alan J. Bauman
Would you trust your hairline to a robot?
Nearly every facet of our lives is dominated by technology, so it shouldn’t be surprising that robotic surgeries are increasing by 25 percent annually. Today, robotic-assisted surgeries are becoming common operating procedure for a growing number of indications, including hysterectomy, prostatectomy, and even cardiac valve replacement and more.
And now, robots are even being used to help hair loss sufferers regrow their hair.
The ARTAS robotic-assisted hair transplant system by Restoration Robotics is the latest advancement in the field of surgical hair restoration and the Follicular Unit Extraction or FUE technique of hair follicle harvesting. With the assistance of a high-tech robotic system, physicians are now able to safely perform no-linear-scar hair transplants with more precision, control and efficiency.
Currently there are just a small number of clinics offering the FDA-approved ARTAS robotic-assisted transplant system worldwide, but that number is expected to grow rapidly as more consumers opt for less-invasive transplant techniques. But if you are still a bit unsettled by the image of a robotic arm performing such a delicate surgery, here are 3 things to know about robotic-assisted hair transplants:
- They are not performed completely by robots. This is an important distinction to make for potential patients who conjure up images of an actual robot, rather than a surgeon, performing surgery. The reality is, the robot is simply an extension of the surgeon. Which means its effectiveness is tied directly to the expertise of the surgeon who programs and guides the instrument. A skilled surgeon is still essential for a successful transplant, because regardless of how the hair follicles are harvested, the critical step for naturalness is the artistry of the surgeon involved. Patients should never choose a surgeon solely based on which equipment or technology they use, because just as important is their artistic ability and vision.
- Safety, improved accuracy and precision, increased speed. Patients and physician are drawn to robotic-assisted transplants for a variety of reasons; one of the biggest is improved accuracy and precision of the graft-harvesting process. Using specifications and parameters set by the physician/surgeon and guided by an optical guidance system, the robot identifies and extracts hair follicles from the patient’s donor area for transplantation. The robot’s optical guidance system works at 60 times per second with micron-level accuracy to identify, measure and characterize available hair follicles for harvesting. Robotic FUE harvesting of grafts is performed hundreds to thousands of times during each hair transplant procedure session with a consistency of speed and accuracy that would be difficult to duplicate with the human hand.
- 3D Preview of Results. One of the main challenges for a hair transplant surgeons is communicating, and managing patient expectations—answering the question “what will I look like after the procedure?” Robotic-assisted transplants have combatted this with interactive software, called the ARTAS Hair Studio, that allows the surgeon to create a digital 3D preview image for patients, which helps “paint” an accurate picture for patients of what they can expect, to ensure that they have realistic expectations going into surgery about the size and number of sessions needed to reach their goals. The combination of artistry and technology means patients are getting the ‘best of both worlds,’ and the end result is hairlines that look incredibly natural and not transplanted.
Unfortunately, there has been a downside to the growing demand for hair transplants, it has caused many unqualified doctors to begin offering them to patients, which has led to an increase in post-op complications, and unsuccessful transplants with unnatural looking results. This is why patients should always look for physicians who are board-certified in hair restoration and recommended by the American 3 Things To Know About Robotic Hair Transplants DrAlanBauman 0716 SFHW
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