What is FUE hair transplant

6. FUE & FUT hair transplants

Is robot-assisted graft removal better than manual?

The expectation that robots are better at what they do than human experts is often aroused - but is usually not justified. Claims such as the one that ARTAS is particularly talented in picking out the best follicular units or can even completely rule out injuries to the follicles when punching out are questionable: In looking for the best transplant candidates, ARTAS is about as talented as the people who programmed it - minus them human ability to cleverly judge even unclear and atypical situations, which a robot naturally lacks. The technique with which ARTAS punches grafts from the skin is standardized and thus immune to fatigue and other causes of human error, but inflexible and unable to respond to individual variations in the texture of skin and hair.

Comparative studies that directly compare the results of robot-assisted and purely manual FUE transplants do not yet exist in the specialist literature - in this respect, no statements can actually be made about the quality of robot-assisted graft removal. Existing studies are positive in the sense that they certify ARTAS that, in principle, it can do its job as well as human experts.

A 2014 study examined the yield of follicular units with the ARTAS robot: Over 5% of the grafts punched out by the robot contained no usable follicles at all. [8] A Korean study comes to a very similar result: In addition to the 5% unusable grafts, just under 5% of the grafts punched by ARTAS were damaged: They contained incised follicles that would presumably not survive. Two other studies from Japan and the USA reported nearly 6% and 8% damaged follicles, respectively. [9] These error rates roughly correspond to those found in a Korean study on injuries to the follicles during manual graft removal: here 6.3% of the follicles were cut. In addition, however, other types of injuries were broken down, of which it is unclear whether they were also diagnosed in the ARTAS studies. [10]

Conclusion: The quality of a robot-assisted hair transplant is still largely determined by the skills of the surgical team. The robot is just a machine that partially relieves the surgical team of the monotonous task of removing grafts. He probably performs this task with a similar quality to a reasonably experienced specialist assistant. The advantage for the patient lies in the time saved. Cost savings, albeit theoretically obvious, are currently hardly beneficial for patients, as the acquisition of the robot for the clinics is very expensive.