It’s the question for many industries – will robots replace humans?
Man vs machine was a recurring theme at the last Hair Transplant Surgeons Meeting, the annual meeting of the experts in hair restoration. Due to more and more clinics practicing automation in hair transplant surgery, either through robots, machines or automated punches, it needed to be discussed in depth.
In this article we explain the automation of hair transplants along with the pros and cons of man vs machine.
Are automated hair transplant techniques truly able to compete face to face with manual methods? Can man really be replaced by a machine in this instance? If these automated methods have real benefits, they are not without drawbacks, particularly and unfortunately for patients.
Automated follicular implantation is a follicular unit extraction technique performed using a machine. The most well known machines are Safer’s® and Artas® robot. Some clinics also use an automated punch, like those used for ‘low cost’ transplants in countries such as Thailand.
For the extraction of follicles, Safer’s® uses an automated punch rotary head with a vacuum. The handpiece can be programmed to vary the speed of rotation. Once drawn, the grafts are held in a storage room waiting to be transplanted. Using a handpiece with a piston, the grafts are “blown” into the incisions (or slots) previously made on the recipient area.
With Artas®, the robot uses digital imaging technology to map and analyse the natural groupings of hair on the scalp of the patient. The American company that developed the technology invested several hundred million dollars its development and promised that once set, the 3D scanner system could analyse the direction, angle, depth and hair density.
The use of automated systems, whether via robots or motorised punches, logically reduces the duration of the procedure, and thus reduces the cost. The financial aspect is an advantage for the clinic (less staff needed and multiple sessions may be scheduled during the day) and also offers the patient a competitive price, however cheaper is hardly ever better.
Methods of automated transplants focus on the extraction phase at the expense of the implementation phase, with the latter being more important for the patient. Limitations of automation are listed below.
With Safer’s® robot:
– The larger diametre and rotation of an automated extraction punch promotes scarring and a “moth-eaten” effect on the donor area.
– The angle of the rotary handpiece when it penetrates the skin is not always identical to that of the axis of the follicle in the skin (which may be sometimes different from the direction of the outgoing hair of the scalp).
– The air suction causes the follicles to dry out which jeopardises their survival and therefore the rate of regrowth.
– Incisions for receiving the grafts are performed with a scalpel on the implantation area. The incisions are intentionally a wider diameter than the handpiece (often up to 1.4mm), these incisions promote an “orange peel” appearance on the scalp and are not ideal for monitoring the angle and direction of hair growth.
With Artas® robot:
– Once set, this machine does not require the presence of a physician specifically trained in hair transplant to do its work.
– In practice, the software has limitations – it only scans the outside of the scalp, making it difficult to anticipate the direction of follicles below the skin.
– Extraction punches are often of a diametre much greater than those used in manual extraction.
– It is difficult to use on the sides and periphery, with the most experienced doctors often choosing to switch to manual extraction.
– Despite the cost associated with development, this machine really has not had the expected success.
For the best hair transplant possible, attention to detail is required throughout the entire process and the result should be impeccable. Medical, mathematical and artistic factors must be considered and mastered by experts in hair restoration. Humans have the ability to read feelings and emotions and adapt to achieve the best result.
A Gro microsurgery hair transplant is performed by a Gro Doctor from start to finish. The follicles are extracted with a specialised tool designed to minimise damage to the hair follicle and surrounding scalp tissue. Individual follicles are kept in a growth solution called HypoThermosolTM at a constant temperature to ensure optimum development and growth after placement. HypoThermosolTM is generally used in major organ transplant procedures and results in maximised hair survival rate. Hair follicles are implanted using another specialised implanter tool, that allows the Gro Doctor to control depth, direction and angle of placement, giving you a really natural result. There is also no need to create recipient holes in the treatment area with Gro. This allows the doctor to obtain higher hair density when necessary.
The first step is a consultation to determine if the surgery is right for you. Our treatment options are personalised to individual requirements, based on sound medical knowledge and experience.
If you have been considering treatment options for hair loss, you can click on one of the buttons below or see more information on the hair restoration Sydney or hair restoration Brisbane, hair restoration Melbourne, hair restoration Gold Coast or hair restoration perth pages. Alternatively, you can call us on 1300 787 563 so we can answer any questions you have and show you how the Gro difference can provide a natural, permanent solution to your hair loss.