How is the ARTAS Robot Used During a Hair Transplant Procedure?

June 17th, 2014

The follicular unit extraction (FUE) procedure consists of four steps: the separation of follicular units from the surrounding tissue, the removal of follicular units from the scalp, the creation of recipient sites, and the placement of follicular units into these sites. The first step is performed by the ARTAS robotic hair transplant system – the part of the FUE procedure requiring the greatest precision and that is most subject to human error.

Here is a more detailed summary of the video:

Dr. Bernstein: We’re often asked the following question: what does the robot do during a hair transplant procedure?

First, it is important to understand that there are two types of hair transplants. One type is called follicular unit transplantation (FUT). This is where we remove a strip of tissue from a patient’s donor area. From this strip, we dissect out the follicular units. These units are naturally occurring groups of 1- to 4-hairs.

The other type of hair transplant is called follicular unit extraction (FUE). In FUE, instead of dissecting follicular units from a strip, we remove follicular units, one by one, directly from the donor area. The removal of individual follicular units in an FUE procedure can now be performed robotically.

An FUE procedure involves four steps: the first step involves separating the follicular unit from the surrounding tissue; the second involves extracting the follicular unit from the scalp; the third involves creating recipient sites, little tiny incisions in the balding area of the scalp; and the forth step involves taking the grafts that were extracted from the donor area in the back of the scalp, and placing them into these recipient sites.

Again, the robot is only involved in the first step of the FUE procedure, the separation of the follicular unit from the surrounding tissue. But this step is the most difficult part of the procedure to perform manually. This is because to avoid damaging the follicular units, the surgeon must use great precision when aligning the cutting tool with the angle of a follicular unit; also, the angle of a follicular unit will change depending on where it is located on the scalp.

In short, the first step of the FUE procedure is most subject to the human variability and error of the surgeon, and this is the part that can be performed by the ARTAS robot with accuracy and consistency through hundreds, or even thousands, of extractions.

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Posted by Robert M. Bernstein M.D. on June 17th, 2014 at 11:35 am



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