Hair restoration options have drastically increased as modern medicine has improved. Though many people associate hair transplants with the unnatural-looking “plugs” popularized in the 1980s, the procedure has made great strides since. One of the newest hair restoration techniques involves the use of robotics, increasing both transplant precision and efficiency, and giving patients a natural, youthful hairline.
Hair transplantation involves the precise removal and placement of follicular unit grafts, whether the grafts are obtained by the traditional “strip” method (in which a strip of skin is removed from the donor area) or the Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) method, in which grafts are removed individually. With robotic hair restoration, the ARTAS robot uses its advanced vision system and algorithms to evaluate the donor area and determine the hair characteristics of the grafts, as well as the angles and directions of the emerging hair. Then, based on the doctor’s instructions, the robot will dissect or separate the follicle groups from the surrounding skin.
Though the robotic system is highly advanced, a physician will still be involved in the procedure. The surgeon instructs and monitors the flow and process of the treatment. The robot moves extremely quickly—several times faster than the rate of the average surgeon. The robot selects and dissects the highest quality grafts, which are then removed from the skin by the technician. Though technicians do the implantation itself, doctors are hopeful that, in the next few years, this can be something the robot does as well.
The only major disadvantage of the ARTAS system is that the robot needs a wide-open field for it to assess the hair’s angles and directions. This does require the patient’s scalp be fully shaved, with hair trimmed to about a sixteenth of an inch long. There are many patients who, obviously, this would not work for—many female patients, for instance, may want to consider other treatment options.
So long as the patient does not mind having his head shaved, the majority of those interested in the ARTAS procedure are viable candidates. Roughly 95% of men with male pattern baldness can consider this procedure. Patients should be advised that the ARTAS procedure leaves tiny, dot-like scars on the scalp—invisible if the hair is any longer than a quarter of an inch long. Patients should also be aware that the recovery time for the ARTAS procedure is significantly easier than with the strip harvest technique, as the process removes 35-45% less skin than with a standard hair transplantation. This results in a less invasive, less painful procedure, and natural looking results.
Though there is still a very real stigma against hair transplants in today’s society, this is merely a byproduct of the subpar procedures performed nearly three decades ago. Today’s transplants are virtually undetectable and, with the help of the ARTAS system, are faster and easier than ever before. Though patient needs vary from case to case, if patients are interested in the ARTAS system, it is always worth asking a qualified surgeon about how it may be the best procedure for them.
Written by Cosmetic Town Editorial Team based on an exclusive interview provided by Dr. James Harris of Hair Sciences Center in Greenwood Village, CO