The Future Is Now!
Medical technology is advancing so quickly, looking back only five years, you may feel you’re in the past century.
Nowhere have these changes been more impressive than with advances in cosmetic medicine. Botox, fillers and lasers have created full-time practices for many physicians. Similarly, the art, and now science, of hair transplantation has enabled a devoted core of physicians to provide amazing hair growth that make “your father’s hair transplant” seem truly antiquated.
The realization by hair doctors that transplanting the small 1 to 4 naturally occurring hair units look undetectable has made this cosmetic specialty extraordinarily popular and successful. These hair groups are called “follicular micro-grafts.” Since hair grows this way, transplanting them makes it impossible to tell the difference between transplanted hairs and the neighboring hairs that have not been lost.
Dr. Herbert Feinberg, one of the pioneers in hair transplants, has seen this field progress from hair “plugs” to “mini-grafts” to “micro-grafts” and now to “follicular micro-grafts.” No longer is the goal to create better coverage in a bald or thinning scalp, but to achieve a result that is perfectly natural.
The traditional method of removing follicular units is to surgically remove a strip of scalp from the back of the head (donor area) and cut out the units under a microscope. Sutures or staples are used to close the cut, and a linear scar is left in the scalp which may be obvious if hair is cut short. This method is known as a Follicular Unit Transplant or FUT.
The newer method eliminates the strip and linear scar that’s left in the donor scalp, by using a small cylindrical punch and removing each unit individually. This method is called Follicular Unit Extraction or FUE.
Both FUT and FUE make up the “Harvesting” part of the transplant. The second stage or “Placement” involves making small needle sticks in the bald (recipient) scalp and manually inserting each graft with a small forceps. As of now the Placement is done by hand in both procedures.
When Dr. Feinberg was asked about the new FUE technique, he explained the virtues of the Artas Robotic System. Like manual FUE extraction, the Robot eliminates traditional “strip” harvesting, and removes individual hair grafts in a more comfortable and relatively scarless fashion. The marks that are left are the size of pinheads, and they shouldn’t be obvious even if hair is shaved close to the scalp.
FUE takes more time than the traditional FUT method, but the healing process is usually faster and more comfortable for the patient. Dr. Feinberg has found that most of his patients who have had both types of transplants overwhelmingly favor the Robot.
The scientists who developed this technology were involved with the earlier medical robots that have revolutionized surgery. The Artas Robot is the most intuitive robot in medicine, because it makes some decisions on its own, unlike past robots that must be completely controlled by the surgeon.
The Robot removes individual follicular units one at a time. It estimates the angle of each hair or groups of hairs and does it in mini-seconds. It creates grafts that are perfect cylinders, which are more pristine than grafts cut by hand from strips. There is less handling of tissue and the Robot never tires which gives it a major advantage over manual follicular unit extraction.
Dr. Feinberg said that about 75% of his hair transplants are now robotic, and he speaks glowingly about the future of this technology. He believes that, in the near future, this robot will not only take out the small hair grafts, it will store and place them with less human intervention.
When asked if the machine will completely replace the doctor, Dr. Feinberg said that the experience and artistry of the doctor and his staff will always remain the necessary ingredient for a successful hair transplant and a happy patient.