Californian company, Restoration Robotics is celebrating selling its 100th robot which they claim can cure hair loss
. The robot in question is the ARTAS Robotic Hair Transplant System, which was cleared by the FDA
in 2011 and is designed to complete the harvesting stage of hair transplant surgery
in place of a surgeon. Story continues after the video report.
Robotic hair transplant surgery
Currently there are two types of manual hair transplant surgeries available, FUT and FUE:
- FUT (follicular unit transplantation), also known as 'Strip Surgery' or FUSS (Follicular Unit Strip Surgery), is where a strip of hair is harvested from the back of the head for transplant in the area affected by hair loss. This is an invasive treatment which leads to a tell-tale scarring in a line across the back of the head.
- FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction), is a newer method of hair transplant surgery in which a small round punch is used to extract smaller units containing one to four hairs. These are then transplanted individually to the areas with hair loss. This leads to a much more natural result however it is a very time consuming process to remove each hair one at a time.
The work done by the ARTAS Robotic Hair Transplant System (pictured right) is actually very similar to FUE surgery, however, according to the manufacturers, the benefit of using the $200,000 robot is that it is able to quickly identify and harvest individual hair follicles from the back of the head, without human intervention. By combining advanced digital imaging, with speed and precision, it is claimed the robot makes the process of harvesting of hair from the donor area quicker and less invasive. In turn, these benefits should lead to minimal invasion, allegedly producing better, more natural-looking results with faster recovery times. The robotic system does not put hair transplant surgeons out of work entirely though - skilled humans are still required to place the harvested hairs into the areas of the head affected by balding.
Not suitable for everyone
One drawback of the device is that any men with blonde, grey or ginger hair will have to dye their hair first in order for the robot to complete their procedure, and those with curly hair may not be able to use it at all. The ARTAS information states that its robotic system is only licensed for 'harvesting hair follicles from the scalp in men diagnosed with andogenic alopecia (male pattern hair loss
) who have black or brown straight hair'. The most likely reason for this is that paler hair, and hair that is curly, can be harder to see under the necessary bright surgery lights and obviously it is imperative that anyone carrying out a hair transplant has a clear, unobstructed view of the hair they are working with. Some transplant surgeons also request patients dye their pale-coloured hair a darker shade before manual operations for the same reasons.
Will a hair transplant cure male pattern baldness?
Hair transplants are permanent, so the hair that has been transplanted should usually continue to grow for life, although there have been several high profile cases where transplants have not been effective so follow up operations have been needed. It's also important to bear in mind that the hair around the transplanted follicles is still susceptible to thinning
and hair fall, so it is likely that hair loss treatment will still be required following hair transplant surgery in order to maintain your appearance. This is the case whether your surgery is performed by a robo-surgeon or a human.
Other hair loss treatment and post-surgery maintenance options
Surgical hair replacement is not the only, nor the most cost-effective, solution available for thinning hair. There are other clinically-proven treatments for male pattern hair loss
available which can successfully encourage regrowth without the need for an expensive and invasive surgical procedure. It is generally recommended that men considering any form of invasive hair restoration surgery undergo a full pharmaceutical hair loss treatment
programme, usually featuring either or both of the MHRA licensed and FDA approved medications, for at least six months prior to their transplant. This is to ensure the cause of the hair loss is effectively managed and the hair in the best possible condition for the surgeon to work with.
Some men find that they see promising results from the hair loss treatment alone, negating the need for a transplant after all. You can see many hundreds of examples of Belgravia's male hair loss clients' results from before and after starting their recommended courses in our Hair Loss Treatment Success Stories
As mentioned, following surgery, it is also often necessary to use a maintenance hair loss treatment plan in order to inhibit the DHT
- which causes genetic baldness and will not stop following a hair transplant - from attacking other areas around the top of the scalp which have not received the new donor hair. If you are worried about male pattern baldness and would like to discuss your treatment options talk to a hair specialist
who will be able to explain the most effective way for you to treat your specific stage of hair loss
. They can also refer you to a reputable hair transplant surgeon if necessary.