Restoration Robotics; out of Mountain View, CA; has produced the first hair transplant robot, a completely automated device to remove intact follicular units from the donor area. The FUE robot, called the ARTAS System for hair restoration, is designed specifically to facilitate Follicular Unit Extraction hair transplant procedures.
The ARTAS System, has received 510K clearance from the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for harvesting hair follicles from the scalp in men diagnosed with androgenetic alopecia (male pattern hair loss) with black or brown straight hair on April 14, 2011.
Restoration Robotics was founded by Dr. Frederick H. Moll; CEO of Hansen Medical, a publicly traded robotics company for invasive cardiac care instruments and board member of Mako Surgical, an orthopedics robotic company. He is considered a leader in the field of robotics in medicine. The Robotic FUE hair transplant device, guided by cameras and 3-D imaging software, can perform the removal of hair follicles individually at a rate of up to 1,000 per hour.
Research on Graft Transection Rate with Robotic System
Graft transection — the cutting of follicles during their initial separation from the surrounding tissues — is a major problem with FUE. Initial testing of the robotic device, presented at the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS) meeting in 2007, discussed the safety aspects and feasibility of this technology in aiding Follicular Unit Extraction. The prototype device had an initial transection rate of 30%.
More research on Robotic FUE (R-FUE) hair transplantation — which was conducted at Restoration Robotics, Inc. (Mountain View, CA, USA) and the Berman Skin Institute (Palo Alto, CA, USA) — was presented by Miguel G. Canales, MD and David Berman, MD at the 2008 meeting of the ISHRS. At this meeting, graft survivability and transection rates were again examined, however, from a more advanced device. The preliminary results showed a transection rate of 6-15%, which was a significant improvement over the previous year, but still not low enough for general use.
Modifications of the image-guided robotic system for Follicular Unit Extraction continued in order to further reduce transection rates and increase the consistency of the results when used in a broad spectrum of patients. With the first commercially released instrument, the one used at Bernstein Medical, transection rates appear to be around 2%.