Bernstein Medical - Center for Hair Restoration - New Instrumentation for Three-Step Follicular Unit Extraction
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Dr. Bernstein Presenting ‘Follicular Unit Extraction: Then and Now’

Dr. Bernstein was honored to deliver the keynote address at the ARTAS International Users Forum in San Francisco, California. Dr. Bernstein’s presentation, “Follicular Unit Extraction: Then and Now,” was a review of the evolution of surgical hair restoration from Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) through Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) to the cutting edge technique of Robotic-FUE.

The presentation described the steps that resulted in the use, and growth in popularity, of the state-of-the-art ARTAS Robotic System for FUE. Dr. Bernstein pointed out that with the introduction of each procedure — FUT, FUE, and Robotic-FUE — there was initially a rocky reception with physicians. In each instance, however, the surgeons’ concerns were overcome first by strong, patient interest and then by clinical studies that confirmed the procedures’ usefulness.

Dr. Bernstein discussed how FUE procedures progressed from the use of hand-held instruments to the computer-assisted, image-guided ARTAS Robot. One of the initial hurdles of FUE procedures using hand-held devices was a high rate of follicular unit transection (cutting of the follicles). Restoration Robotics, Inc., the company that developed the ARTAS system, used a “sharp/blunt” punch technique that was introduced by Jim Harris in his 2004 publication on the SAFE System for FUE. The sharp/blunt technique, that was validated in 2006 by Dr. Bernstein’s research publication, “New Instrumentation for Three-Step Follicular Unit Extraction,” reduced transection of follicles when compared to older instrumentation. Dr. Bernstein then detailed modifications to the system that he proposed in order to improve the ARTAS robot. These improvements include: a smaller tip for the sharp/blunt punch, selection of larger over smaller follicular units, tensioner placement, ‘feathering’ the ends of the tensioner, and pre-making recipient sites before extracting the follicular unit grafts.

Looking to the future, Dr. Bernstein mapped out the further evolution of the Robotic FUE procedure and the tasks it will be required to perform. In future procedures, the physician will not only guide the robot on extracting follicular units, but also in creating recipient sites and, further down the road, placing grafts into the recipient sites. Graft placement will represent the most significant challenge to the robotic system as this step is the most sensitive to patient to patient variability. Once this last step is accomplished, a fully automated hair transplant should be possible, eliminating much of the human error in the mechanical aspects of the hair restoration process.

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PRESS RELEASE

World renown hair transplant surgeon introduces a new surgical tool that improves the way hair transplantation can be performed.

New York, NY March 21, 2006

Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) InstrumentIn a new article appearing on the cover of Hair Transplant Forum International, the official publication of The International Society of Hair Transplant Surgeons (ISHRS), pioneering hair transplant surgeon Robert M. Bernstein MD, along with his colleague Dr. William R. Rassman, recently revealed details about a “New Instrumentation for Three-Step Follicular Unit Extraction.”

Dr. Bernstein is known throughout the world of medicine as author of the landmark publication; “Follicular Transplantation” which described a new hair replacement transplant technique in which he was able to transplant hair exactly as it grows – in naturally occurring groups called follicular units. That paper, together with two dozen other major publications, has revolutionized the way hair transplants are now performed – moving away from “doll’s hair” like plugs and into the realm of natural, undetectable hair patterns.

Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) is a further refinement of this technique where follicular units are literally removed, one-by-one, directly from the scalp. In the traditional procedure, a strip of tissue is removed from the back of the head and placed under a microscope in order to remove the follicles.

The latest FUE instrument design is based upon Dr. J. A. Harris’ concept of using a blunt tool to prevent damage to hair follicles during extraction. The new device improves on the old method by re-conceiving the shape of the tool’s edge in order to minimize injury to hair follicles. “Our new instrument is made in the shape of a cylindrical tube with a bull-nosed edge. This allows us to capture the entire follicular unit (naturally groups of 1-4 hairs) without damage to the hair bulbs.” We also found that the incidence of buried grafts decreased significantly with the new instrument from about 9% to 1.8% with this new device” said Dr. Bernstein from his Center for Hair Restoration in New York.

In a recent study conducted by Leever Research Services, it is estimated that over 360,000 patients sought help from doctors for their hair loss last year. With ground-breaking work by surgeons like Robert M. Bernstein M.D., the impressive aesthetic results from new hair transplantation techniques are helping men and women who suffer from baldness to get a renewed outlook on their lives.

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