Snippet from the article:
A robotic arm, used to harvest hair from a person’s head, sounds strange but it’s the newest way to combat hair loss.
“I started losing my hair in my early 20′s,” said 38-year-old Vincent Delany. “It started receding back where I just had a little strip. Then my crown started thinning a lot where you can actually see scalp.”
It was a big enough concern that Delany looked into hair restoration surgery. He tried the traditional graft harvest, also known as the strip method. This is when a strip of skin is removed and doctors remove the follicular unit grafts one by one under a microscope. The method can be tedious and long.
Read the rest — Doctor Uses Robotic Arm To Perform Hair Transplant
This new technology will make follicular unit extraction (FUE) more popular and easier for most doctors, but it will not likely drive the cost of a hair transplant down as the robotic Artas system is quite expensive for the clinic ($200,000 for the machine) plus the company charges an additional $1/graft.
This system extracts the grafts for the doctor and does so with minimal damage, but it still does not address the placement of graft, which is a technical limiting activity for many doctors wanting to enter the hair transplant business. The process of moving the grafts requires that they are taken from the “wet” environment they are placed in after harvesting (a dish or container of saline) and moved into the recipient area. This is a manual activity and requires skills that are acquired over years working in the field. There is a wide variation amongst doctors in delivering the placement of graft skill, so the robotic system must eventually deliver graft placement to close the loop for a complete robotic hair restoration.
Grafts can die if they are exposed to the air for as short a time as just 10 seconds, so keeping grafts moist is critical to graft survival (with or without the robot). For many doctors who have not mastered the FUE technique, this instrument can change the harvesting technique that is routinely offered; however, there is no experience with large sessions with the Artas system (sessions above 1500 grafts) so more frequent surgeries may be necessary for those individuals who have Class 4-7 balding patterns. I have no doubt that the placement of grafts will eventually be included in a robotic hair restoration process and look forward to the day that it is available.
There’s a photo of the system here and in full disclosure, Restoration Robotics (the maker of this system) licensed the core optical technology from us.