Whilst looking at various alternatives for hair loss we came across a story in the Los Angeles Times regarding robot- assisted hair restoration.

The technique is said to use robotic technology “ARTAS” to pluck hairs from the thicker fuller part of your head at the back and sides and then move them to the balding areas where necessary. It normally takes eight to nine hours to individually harvest, by hand, the 1,000 follicle clusters needed to build a full mane of hair, according to Dr. James Harris, director of the Hair Sciences Center of Colorado in Denver. However the machine is said to be able to complete the treatment much faster with a quicker recovery time according to Dr. Harris who has started treating patients after the robot was cleared by the FDA in America. Whilst the robot is carrying out the treatment, the Doctor can watch on a monitor from another room to keep an eye on its handy work. The technique uses a special blade that removes the follicle without damaging it. According to the story, the usual treatment would cost $5,000 to $10,000, but because it saves the physician time, they offer patients a discount if they let “ARTAS” do the follicle extraction. Before you conjure up images of C-3PO chatting to you about your holidays whilst beautifying your Barnett, the treatment is currently licensed it to only the Restoration Robotics Inc. of Mountain View, California, the company that makes ARTAS.

What are the concerns?

I'm not sure how many people would feel comfortable receiving a hair transplant from a robot. All hair restoration techniques are highly delicate and take years of training and experience to perfect. The idea that all of this experience can be replaced by a machine may not sit well with a large proportion of potential clients. Furthermore, many people select their clinic based on the reputation of the individual surgeon. Some would argue that the ARTAS robot would remove any benefit of choosing a highly experienced surgeon and replace it with a one-size-fits-all solution. It is far too early to say whether the ARTAS project will catch on. The manufacturers certainly seem to think so and a number of high profile surgeons such as Dr Bernstein now support the project. Who knows, one day robotic hair transplant procedures could become the norm. I guess only time will tell.

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By Damien

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