Soccer superstar Jason McAteer recently disclosed he had undergone a hair transplant using robotic FUE. But why use a robot in hair transplant surgery? Currently, in the United States, there is only one robot FDA approved to work in hair restoration. The Artas Hair Restoration system is a device that both harvests grafts and can create recipient sites. The theory is that the robot can do things better than a human.
But can it? The robot simply automates the process of follicular unit extraction (FUE) and follicular unit transplant. The same limitations with FUE exist with manual extraction or the robot. With FUE, a hair shave is mandatory in the donor area. Though a linear scar is not created, small white dots are left when the skin heals. Unlike the advertising, FUE is not scarless and if you ever completely shave your head you will see the small scars. The biggest drawback to FUE is the donor hair transection rate. Published studies show a wide range of transection rate with robotic hair donor removal from less than 1% to over 30%. The same rate is realized with manual transection rate. To date, no study has compared robotic hair removal to manual hair FUE to see which might be better.
One potenital downside is the cost related to robotic hair transplant. The machines are expensive and the current system requires a payment per graft from the physician to the manufacturer. This can increase the overall cost of the procedure to the patient. Without peer reviewed literature, it is still unclear if robotic FUE is better than manual FUE.
As with all techniques and procedures, robotic FUE is one option in hair restoration surgery. There are no scientifically proven best methods for hair transplant or hair removal during hair transplant surgery. Visiting with a knowledgeable surgeon who has experience and access to multiple hair transplant methods is essential to getting the best results possible. As a double board certified physician, hair transplant surgeon Dr. D.J. Verret is able to discuss all of your options for hair restoration.