BOSTON, Mass. – By age 35, two-thirds of American men will have some degree of hair loss. By the age of 50, 85 percent are a lot thinner on top. But now, a doctor becomes the patient, as he tests out a new high-tech solution -robotic hair restoration.
"Well my biggest concern is my hairline," said Robert Leonard, D.O.
Normally Leonard is the one performing hair transplant surgery but this time he is the patient, trying out a new FDA-approved robotic device to restore his hairline.
Under the control of a hair transplant surgeon, the ARTAS system uses a robotic arm and digital imaging. Every 20 milliseconds it re-calculates hair position to achieve the best results from a patient's donor area.
"The robot will line up to each hair follicle each hair shaft either one grouping up to almost four groupings and will punch each one out by a one millimeter punch." explained Matthew Lopresti, D.O.
Unlike traditional hair transplant surgery the ARTAS robot leaves no linear scar allowing patients to wear their hair shorter at the donor site.
"I just had this technique just done a very short time ago, and my whole hair line was transplanted," said Leonard.
Lopresti says the ARTAS is more precise, than the traditional surgery – cutting down on time by approximately 25 percent. Under local anesthesia it takes about five to seven hours to perform.
"Most patients do not complain of any discomfort whatsoever especially at night time lying on a pillow versus the traditional method where you do have a line with skin that was taken out with sutures in the back," said Lopresti.
In about eighteen months, Leonard can expect to see full hair growth.
The procedure costs on average about ten to fifteen thousand dollars. As hair transplants are almost always considered elective procedures, health plans do not normally pay for hair transplantation surgery.
No matter what causes baldness, many people decide to undergo hair transplants to regain self-confidence. Primary causes can include aging, hormone change, and family history, although there are several external factors that can contribute as well. Poor scalp circulation, vitamin deficiencies, dandruff, and excessive hat-wearing have been debunked as possible causes of baldness.
(Sources: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007205.htm, http://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/hair-replacement.html)
PROCEDURE: Follicular Unit Transplantations (FUT), or hair transplants, have been around since the 1950's. In a standard FUT, a section of the scalp containing hair (donor area) is removed and divided into several grafts. The donor area is then stitched or stapled back together. Then, small incisions are made in the balding area, and replaced with the grafts from the donor area. Tightness in the scalp is a typical post-op side effect, since the donor area is being pulled and stapled/stitched closed.
(Sources: http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/hair-loss/hair-transplants, http://www.artashair.com/choosing-artas/compare-your-options/)
NEW TECHNOLOGY: Since the ARTAS Robotic Hair Procedure harvests individual groupings of hair without the removal of a large section of the scalp, there is almost no scarring in the donor area – no need for stitching or staples. Due to this primary factor, recovery time is drastically reduced. The goal of the ARTAS system is to create the most natural appearance for hair transplants.