There’s a doctor in the bay area that is claiming to do hair transplants with robots. What is this about? Robots??? Can you tell me more about this?
“Restoration Robotics, Inc. (Mountain View, CA) is a company using image-guided robotic technology to perform hair restoration by emulating the FUE technique. The robotic technology is in development. Currently, it is not approved by the FDA and the technology is not for sale”, said a company spokesperson when I contacted them. I also found this press release about Restoration Robotics from 2003, here.
I can imagine the scene of a movie with robots doing hair transplants, starring 3-CPO from Star Wars. I am sure that we will be hearing more about robotic-assisted hair transplants in the future and I doubt that it will be as frightening as I just made it sound. This is an exciting conceptual solution to the Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) quality problem.
There is also the Medicamat Punch Hair Matic, first announced in late 2004 in this press release — Punch Hair Matic rescues baldies — which says: “Medicamat of France will be launching its new robot for hair transplantation”. I have been familiar with this company, which purchased the technology from a long term friend in the mid-1990s, Dr. Pascal Boudjema, one of the brightest inventors that the hair transplant community has ever had.
Their press release goes on to say: “The Punch Hair Matic (which is patent-protected) is a robot using micro-instruments to remove follicular units, which makes surgery simpler, faster, and less debilitating for the patient, with more convincing aesthetic results.” They report a very fast surgical time (2 hours to do 700 grafts) for the transplant (appears to be an FUE technique).
In many ways, Medicamat has been doing small punch grafting longer than I have, considering that they have been using smaller and smaller punches for many years. The evolution to smaller punches has been slow and methodical.
Today, the shoppers for FUE transplants pass through a mine field (a ‘buyer beware’ business for sure) where doctors from all over the world (with little or no training) are using manual techniques with varying degrees of success. Regardless of their expertise, they are telling the public that they specialize in FUE and are experts in the technique. At least, the robot approach promises to standardize the technique and the quality of the output. So we have a horse race now between two companies offering what may turn out to be competing technologies. Only the public can benefit here, so I sincerely hope that one or both of these companies succeed in making the business for automated hair transplants work.