Dr. Bernstein was interviewed by Spencer Kobren on The Bald Truth, the critically acclaimed broadcast on hair loss and hair restoration. They discussed the latest in robotic hair transplant surgery, the ARTAS® Robotic System, FUE and FUT hair transplant procedures, and the future of hair restoration.
Spencer Kobren: It’s great to have you back. And I know you only have about a half an hour – actually about 20 minutes now… Let’s get straight to the point. You heard my opening, you kind of know how I feel about the way that the industry is moving, the direction the industry is moving in, and also my concern about now that these devices are really starting to become a bigger part of the market, I believe that these devices are getting into the wrong hands. Now let’s just start with why you’ve embraced it and then we can go into how the industry is evolving.
Dr. Bernstein: Follicular Unit Transplantation via strip was a pretty straight-forward procedure, and once we figured out how to use microscopes to dissect out the follicular units and train the staff on microscopic dissection, it was pretty much a slam dunk. It was just a question of other doctors embracing it and patients understanding what it is and demanding the procedure. With Follicular Unit Extraction it’s really a much different animal. The technique is very, very tricky. And the reason why it’s tricky is because the dissection is done essentially blind. The hair follicle changes direction as it goes deeper in the skin, and also the hairs that comprise a follicular unit splay outward — they fan outwards — so it’s very tricky to get a very small punch around an intact follicular unit. When you do this by hand thousands of times, it’s really, really hard for a physician to concentrate and be consistent and not get bored out of his mind. Also, you don’t have all the visual cues that you have under a microscope. So this repetitive procedure lends itself to robotics. For years we worked on the technique, first with a sharp punch, then a dull punch, then a two-step technique where we used a sharp punch to score the skin and then a deeper [duller] punch under it. Each got better and better, but it never was really consistent, and it certainly was very, very dependent on the user, the patient, and how you’re feeling that day. So this procedure lends itself to robotics. I first learned about the robotic procedure very early in 2011 and when I first saw the robot it made total sense to me.
The Bald Truth is America’s longest running self help radio show for men’s hair loss. Kobren is the Founder and President of the American Hair Loss Association and a founder of the International Alliance of Hair Restoration Surgeons (IAHRS).