US medical device firm Restoration Robotics recently gained FDA clearance for their ARTAS robot, enabling them to market the device as a solution for hair transplants. This has triggered a lot of interest in the device from the international media and people suffering from hair loss. But what exactly is it and how does it work?
ARTAS is essentially a robotic device which can be used to harvest hair follicles from one part of a hair loss patient’s head, prior to implantation into a balding part of the scalp. This technique, known as Follicular Unit Extraction, has been around for some time and is often used in hair transplant procedures, but is usually done by surgeons using a manual punch.
Robotic hair transplants
What this new ARTAS system does is automate parts of the follicle extraction process, harvesting the hair with higher levels of precision and in greater numbers than is possible using manual methods. The robot is controlled by a physician using computer imaging techniques, but is only used for the extraction of hair follicles. The actual transplantation of donor follicles into the recipient area of the patient’s head will still be carried out entirely by human surgeons.
According to the manufacturers, they expect to be able to harvest up to 1,000 follicles per hour, and the process is far less invasive than the older strip harvesting methods which are still in common use. However at the present time, it seems that the ARTAS robot can only be used on individuals with black or brown hair.
Are hair transplants an effective solution to hair loss?
One of the major downsides of hair transplant surgery is the exorbitant costs involved. Depending on the amount of hairs which need to be transplanted, the cost for a single procedure can be anywhere between £3,000 and £12,000. It is not yet known how much hair transplants using the robotic system will cost, but it seems likely that it will be more than conventional procedures, as the hair transplant clinic will have to factor in the extra cost of buying and maintaining the machine.
Another drawback to hair transplants is that they require invasive surgery, and so carry the same risks of complications and infections as other forms of surgery. While the manufacturers say that ARTAS will make the process less invasive, the actual transplantation part of the procedure will remain unchanged, requiring the manual grafting of follicles onto the scalp.
Following a hair transplant, the hair around the transplant still needs to be maintained by preventative treatments on an ongoing basis.
Finally, despite the high costs of having a hair transplant, the results are far from guaranteed. Those who offer hair transplants will often go out of their way to promise natural youthful looking hair that will last for decades. However this is not always the case, and sometimes the results can be far from pleasing.
What’s the alternative to a hair transplant?
Hair transplants are a popular option for many, but there are far more affordable and less invasive methods of dealing with hair loss, that can be even more effective.
Propecia and Minoxidil are the only two pharmaceutical products which have been scientifically proven to not only prevent hair loss caused by Male Pattern Baldness, but to also promote hair re-growth. Both drugs have been licensed in the UK by the MHRA and approved in America by the FDA.
These hair loss products work by dealing directly with the processes within the human body which cause hair loss. Propecia for example works by inhibiting the formation in the body of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), the naturally occurring hormone derivative which causes Male Pattern Baldness.
At the Belgravia Centre, we use these pharmaceutical products as key parts of our hair loss prevention and hair re-growth programmes, but we do not rely on them solely. By combining them with a variety of clinical treatments, hair growth boosters and other techniques, our hair loss experts have achieved fantastic results on numerous occasions. To see the results for yourself, just check out our success stories.
If you’d like to find out how we can help you tackle your hair loss safely, effectively and proven manner, contact us today for a consultation with no obligation. Alternatively, if you are not local to our London clinic, you can fill in our online diagnostic form for a home-use treatment programme, anywhere in the world.