Are Robots Taking Over Hair Transplants?

Hate waiting in lines at the bank? How about waiting in line at the theatre? Debit machines and movie ticket kiosks are what I gravitate towards when I’m at the bank or seeing a movie as they dramatically shorten wait times. These technology-based shortcuts can also be used in hair transplants.

Follicular unit extraction (FUE) is a donor harvesting technique that removes hair follicles from a donor region without creating the need for linear incisions (1). FUE can be quite time-consuming as only one follicular family (a group of 1 – 4 hair follicles) is removed at a time (2). The amount of time required to remove hair follicles from a donor region is decreased when adding robotic technology and automation to FUE (2).

Robotic FUE systems are made up of three major components. The first is a robotic arm that contains two different types of punches; a sharp punch and a blunt punch. The sharp punch makes a superficial 1 mm incision around the hair follicle, and the blunt punch then creates follicle detachment through a second deeper incision (2). The next major component is the suction system. Suction is used to help move the hair follicle above the skin surface to allow for easier extraction (2). Cameras are also a major component of robotic FUE systems. These cameras are equipped with processing software that helps direct punch incision, ensuring punches are correctly placed at the right angle for effective extraction (2). This imaging software can also prevent overharvesting, only allowing follicles to be extracted when they are 1.6 mm apart from each other (2).

There are several different robotic and automated devices on the market today, such as the NeoGraft automated hair transplant system, the surgically advanced follicular extraction (SAFE) system and the ARTAS Robotic Hair Transplant System (Restoration Robotics Inc., San Jose, CA) (3-6). Be sure to speak with your hair transplant surgeon if you are interested to learn about robotic or automated devices in your upcoming hair transplant consultation.

Article by: Sarah Versteeg MSc, Mediprobe Research Inc. 

  1. Rassman WR, Bernstein RM, McClellan R, Jones R, et al. Follicular unit extraction: minimally invasive surgery for hair transplantation. Dermatol Surg 2002;28:720-8.
  2. Avram MR, Watkins SA. Robotic Follicular Unit Extraction in Hair Transplantation. Dermatol Surg 2014;40(12):1319-26.
  3. NeoGraft web site. Available from: Neograft. Accessed July 14, 2014.
  4. Rose PT. The latest innovations in hair transplantation. Facial Plast Surg 2011;27:366-77.
  5. Gupta A. Microrefined microfollicular hair transplant: a new modification in hair transplant. Ann Plast Surg 2014;73:257-65.
  6. Harris JA. New methodology and instrumentation for follicular unit extraction: lower follicle transection rates and expanded patient candidacy. Dermatol Surg 2006;32:56-61; discussion 2.