The robotic revolution is in full swing! At least, that’s what the media and technologists are saying about the many innovations occurring in the medical field, especially those performing highly technical surgical tasks.
The same conversation is being had in the field of hair restoration surgery, where new technologies are being developed and marketed aggressively to the public, making big claims along the way.
The spotlight is recently on ARTAS, the world’s first robotic hair transplant technology making waves in the industry and delivering real results – but at what cost?
Is ARTAS worth considering for your hair transplantation needs? Should you wait until the technology is improved, or just opt for a traditional surgery led by an expert surgeon and team of trained technicians?
Let’s do an honest analysis of ARTAS technology, compare it to manual forms of hair transplantation, and find out if it’s worth your time and money.
The ARTAS hair transplant system is a set of hardware and software used to automate and accelerate the harvesting of follicle units from a patient’s donor area for implantation to the recipient region – typically the hairline or the vertex of the scalp.
The system starts by analyzing and determining which grafts are the strongest and best-suited for extraction from the donor region, using software that detects the quality of follicle units based on unique algorithmic data.
ARTAS then harvests hair-bearing grafts one by one, ensuring the protection of the follicles themselves and the safety of the patient’s donor region. ARTAS avoids over-harvesting a particular area of the head and aims to minimize scarring or patchy appearance.
While ARTAS does not have the capability of implanting grafts to the recipient area, it does feature a suite of software that can help surgeons plan the exact arrangement and design of new hair. This allows them to follow a clear and decisive strategy for optimal results.
Once the required number of quality grafts are harvested, technicians and surgeons will continue with manual implantation of the hair and conclude the procedure with other hair transplantation methods.
ARTAS is certainly an impressive technology with plenty of new, proprietary components and software. In this sense, ARTAS is a step forward for hair restoration technology in general because it gives surgeons who do not specialize in hair restoration the opportunity to broaden their horizons or make extra income.
The machine itself is sleek, and the interface is user-friendly and intuitive, making it a great stepping stone for surgeons who do not yet have the skill set to complete the procedure by hand.
The actual mechanism by which hair is harvested via ARTAS is not particularly innovative and is nearly identical to existing instruments and methods used in Follicular Unit Excision procedures.
The FUE method has been time-tested over nearly two decades. It has proven satisfactory for thousands of clients worldwide, so there’s nothing wrong with the fact that ARTAS draws upon the fundamentals of FUE to harvest healthy grafts in a systemized and efficient way.
In short, ARTAS features many interesting and compelling peripheral technology, but we aren’t convinced that the advancements lead to superior outcomes.
There are plenty of things to like about ARTAS.
Firstly, ARTAS does an excellent job of identifying quality grafts and extracting them with speed and accuracy. That is the fundamental appeal of the technology for surgeons, who do not need to get hands-on during the exhausting process of harvesting hair.
This allows surgeons and techs to put the majority of their energy on the implantation process and use the information gathered from ARTAS to make intelligent decisions about graft placement, including the correct angles, spacing, etc.
Next, ARTAS Hair Studio technology is a fascinating and valuable example of 3D modeling that gives patients and surgeons a view into the future of their procedure’s results.
Surgeons can accurately represent the outcomes before they lift a finger, and clients can offer more input during the consultation process to configure as they see fit.
While ARTAS robotics are exciting and effective in many ways, it does have downsides.
Failure for grafts to take and grow is relatively high for ARTAS compared to FUE and FUT in particular. This means that fewer hairs from the donor area are successfully transplanted and result in healthy, long-term growth on the scalp when ARTAS is used.
While a skilled FUE surgeon can keep transection rates to around 2%, ARTAS may have 8% to 10% transection rates, meaning that ARTAS is significantly less accurate than a procedure done by hand.
Patients with any type of hair are typical candidates for FUE or FUT, while ARTAS technology has only proven effective forpatients with straight, dark hair.
For patients with curly, wavy, or light hair, ARTAS may not detect or properly extract the follicles and could cause damage to the donor area in some cases.
ARTAS cannot identify the healthiest hair grafts in the same manner that a human surgeon can, thus leaving more room for error.
ARTAS is an expensive procedure that is often costlier than even the high-profile FUE clinics in your city or country.
The average national cost for a single FUE session is between $5,000 and $9,000, depending on the procedure’s scope. To have the same number of grafts transplanted via ARTAS, you can expect to pay well over the $10,000 – and that’s just for one session!
Of course, FUE and ARTAS will always cost more than traditional strip surgery, Follicular Unit Transplant. Still, these are decisions that must be made between you and your hair restoration specialist.
What can you expect if you choose ARTAS? Here’s a step-by-step process for the typical client.
The ARTAS consultation process involved taking photographs and uploading data to the 3D modeling studio for analysis by you and your surgeon.
You’ll be presented with numerous different configurations of how your hair could look, and you decide the best course of action based on the advice of your surgeon and the capabilities of the technology.
Weeks later, you’ll have your ARTAS hair transplant session, which begins with a final overview and local anesthetic administered to the donor area.
The ARTAS machine works relatively quickly, and the punctures will be made in rapid succession to the donor region of the head. Most patients report very mild discomfort, and they can focus on music, radio, or TV in the meantime.
Once all grafts are harvested, surgeons and techs will implant the units into the target area of the scalp, and the procedure is concluded with bandaging and a final follow-up meeting.
The recovery rate israther quick for ARTAS procedures, though it’s better to be on the safe side with aftercare, as always. Patients should plan at least a few days of rest at home to allow the skin to heal and new grafts to be rooted in the scalp.
Puncture marks on the donor area will typically heal in less than two weeks, and new hair growth will be visible within a few months after the initial procedure.
Patients may choose to return for more sessions after final results are revealed, and surgeons may advise other medications or treatments.
Are the advantages of ARTAS truly worth the price? Is it a smarter use of resources to undergo standard FUE treatment or even opt for traditional strip surgery?
Here’s why we think you should avoid ARTAS for now and go with a trusted surgeon and clinic you trust.
ARTAS may be quick and impressive to watch, but the quality of transplantation is simply not on the same level as an expert surgeon with technical finesse and an eye for aesthetics. Because ARTAS is generally used by doctors with less expertise in hair transplantation, you may be more likely to end up with a less experienced doctor when you opt for robotic technology.
Most patients prefer to connect and consult with their surgeon throughout the hair transplantation process, while ARTAS doesn’t allow this level of support during the procedure.
ARTAS does not provide surgeons with insights about the best course of action following surgery or how to best protect hair for longevity and health.
Only a trusted hair restoration professional can offer this guidance and ensure that your hair stays strong and healthy for years to come.
The invention of ARTAS is certainly a landmark in hair restoration technology. Still, there are too many downsides in its current form to make it a valid choice for the typical patient.
Schedule a consultation with a reliable hair restoration specialist today to get your process underway.
Speak with Jae Pak, M.D. today!Request a Consultation