As more and more physicians purchase the ARTAS robotic machine for automated FUE there seems to be much more information and misinformation regarding the benefits of FUE and specifically of the ARTAS machine performing the extractions. I am a self described “tech geek” and “gadget fanatic”. This is why when the robot was initially introduced I was very intrigued and wanted to immediately investigate it as it seemed like a perfect fit for my personality. What I found was grafts that did not looks as good as my manual FUE grafts and scars in the donor region that were significantly larger than my hand held FUE scars. It was so dramatic that I decided not to purchase the machine.
Regarding the scarring from the ARTAS FUE, most of the reasons for undergoing FUE in the first place is the elimination of the linear scar and the ability to cut the hair very short without any scarring evident. What I saw from the ARTAS was “moth-eaten” donor regions after a single procedure (see photos below) thus negating the possibility to even shave the hair short! In addition this moth eaten donor area after a single procedure would also preclude the patients from harvesting additional grafts from the same area, which is also a huge negative, as almost all people continue to need additional grafts over time as hair loss progresses with age.
What the ARTAS does provide to physicians who purchase it is the marketing “wow” factor of having a robot harvest their FUE grafts. This can be a powerful marketing tool and in many cases can even allow the physician to switch the patient out to a strip procedure if they realize that FUE is not for them. It also can take the physician completely out of the harvesting equation by delegating technicians to perform the entire FUE harvest without the physician even being in the room. Finally, manual FUE is an acquired art, and not every hair transplant surgeon is capable or proficient in this art, and the ARTAS machine allows everyone to get into the FUE game without knowing how to extract grafts manually.
In my practice, I perform all my FUE harvesting personally with a hand held punch that typically measures 0.9mm in diameter. I perform about 50/50 FUE and FUT and am equally proficient in both. My job as a hair transplant surgeon is to educate my patient as to the benefits and drawbacks of both FUE and FUT and to let them make the decision that works best for them.
My advice is to research extensively before choosing a physician. Make sure you have seen many results (both donor and recipient regions) of both procedures. Most importantly, don’t be fooled by the “marketing hype”. Choose a physician that you truly trust, as a competent and ethical physician will always afford the best chance of a great result.
All the best,
Marc Dauer, M.D.