Jul 11, 2015

Robotic Hair Replacement Is Here

Editorial Voice
Robotic Hair Replacement Is Here - ZALEA Article Banner

DUBAI -- A robot will soon be replanting hair for those who have lost their crowning glory in their march to baldness.

The first such kind of machine to be introduced in Dubai, experts say, will reduce pain and increase precision in the way the hair is implanted, something which cannot be done manually.

"It's a no-pain and no-scarring procedure done in three steps," said Thamer Wali, CEO and president of Imdad, the UAE-based company that will be distributing the ARTAS robotic system to clinics here.

Currently, only 130 robots in the world are used for hair transplants. In the region, at least 800,000 procedures are carried out annually.

"The robot plants healthy, intact grafts," said Thamer, speaking on the sidelines of Dubai Derma, a conference and exhibition on Dermatology held annually.

"The machine punches and extracts the hair grafts along with the bulb — sometimes up to 3,000 times — from the area with the most hair growth on the head," he explained. "But before this is transplanted into the scalp, the patient is shown on a computer how he will look after the transplant. Once this is done, the details are fed into the robot which then does the job," said Thamer.

In the US alone, 35 million men are said to be suffering from hair loss. Also, on an average, there are more than 150,000 hair follicles on a human scalp, and can shed 50 to 100 hair strands per day.

According to the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery, 18% of the 2015 survey respondents are extremely bothered by hair loss, making the improvements to such procedures extremely valuable. The three most important reasons to have a cosmetic procedure such as a hair transplant include:

1.      I want to look as young as I feel for my age

2.      I want to appear more attractive

3.      I want to feel more confident

The hair transplant procedure can take between six to eight hours. The overall price depends on the number of grafts used.

"The robotics could be something big in the future but the models till now are not satisfactorily constructed. Either the trans-section rate of the extraction is higher due to inability to perform fine maneuvers — which means the hair is wasted, especially curly hair or the follicle is dehydrated leaving it unviable," he said.

"Maybe in the future they will be better but until then the human hand is a better solution to perform detailed job in hair transplant."

The industry is growing nevertheless. "Over the years we have seen a huge increase in the number of people seeking the procedure at DSC," said Anisa.

According to the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS) statistics, Middle East and North Africa saw an increase of 740 percent between 2004 and 2012 in the number of procedures performed.

"On a monthly basis, we have approximately 85 to 90 individual procedures, out of which 85 to 90 percent are males while 10 to 15 percent are females," said Anisa.

"About 50 percent of our clients come from the neighboring countries, while 20-25 percent come from Australia, USA, Canada and the UK mostly during winter and summer seasons."

More than 500 people visited Direct Hair Implantation (DHI) clinic in Dubai last year looking for treatments, including hair transplants to stop hair loss.

Editorial Voice
Dr. David Amron for the Editorial Voice - ZALEA Dr. David Amron

Hair loss of many types is a pervasive issue for men and women around the world. The primary cause is known as androgenetic alopecia. While there have been improvements in slowing and sometimes reversing androgenetic alopecia with medications such as finasteride (often marketed under the brand name Propecia), hair transplantation surgery is still an extremely viable option for many patients. The ARTAS robotic system was FDA-approved in the United States in 2011 and is increasing in popularity worldwide. The company and proponents of the robotic system cite higher viability rates for hair follicle units due to decreased transection rates.

There are a number of U.S. and international studies to support decreased transection vs. manual harvesting. However, despite this data, there are many hair transplantation surgeons around the world who still prefer the precision of experienced manual harvesting. It does however appear that a main advantage of robotic vs. manual harvesting is the time it takes the surgeon to harvest grafts. Robotic hair transplant systems such as ARTAS are increasing the number of surgeons and physicians entering the hair transplant business due to increased efficiency and consistency. Patients should remember that the most important factor in ensuring a great result is the experience, skill and judgement of your surgeon.

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