The hair loss robot

Men lose a lot of hair over, erm… hair loss. Millions of guys around the world are afflicted by male pattern baldness, or, to use the appropriate medical lingo, hereditary androgenetic alopecia. There are a number of ways to help remedy this all too common male problem, but now an American company called Restoration Robotics has pushed the hair replacement industry into the world of high-tech, automated solutions and robots.

The US Food and Drug Administration recently approved the company’s ARTASTM System for commercial use. Positioned over the patient’s head and using computer control, an image-guided robotic arm, small dermal punches and sophisticated imaging technology, the device is able to identify viable hair follicle units and harvest them from parts of the scalp with normal hair growth, usually at the back and/or side of the head. These follicular units are then stored until they can be manually implanted in areas that are thinning or bald.

Does the thought of a robot going to town on what precious remaining patches of decent hair you have make you week at the knees? Well, it shouldn’t. The procedure happens in an unthreatening office environment and the machine is operated by a qualified medical practitioner.

The new device improves on the existing follicular unit extraction (FUE) technique by making it less invasive, easier and faster. As many as 750 to 1000 healthy hair follicle units can be harvested within an hour. The only downsides are that at the moment the technique can only be used on men with straight brown or black hair and that it will probably take some time for it to arrive on our shores.

(Andrew Luyt, Health24, May 2011)

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