Dr. Wasserbauer leads Robotic Hair Restoration FDA Trial
“Where are the latest and greatest strides being made in the science of hair restoration?” The answer is; “Right here at Dr. Wasserbauer’s office!” where we have been approved as one of only two sites for a research study involving robotic hair transplant technology. The Restoration Robotics™ prototype system is an interactive image-guided robotic system that is able to remove hair grafts one at a time and will be able to implant them as well. The trial that Dr Wasserbauer is now conducting is intended to be the final phase for FDA approval of this new and completely new technology.
Officials at Restoration Robotics claim that, while manual transplants might take around eight to 10 hours, their robot could complete the process in about five hours. The robot also has the ability to design a patient’s hairline on a computer.
It is fascinating in action, as the patient moves so the robot moves, and as each follicular unit is located, it recalculates the angle, orientation and location of all the hairs on the scalp surface. Using this position and location data, the imaging system guides the robotic arm to the grafts one at a time. The follicular units are then extracted from the scalp and automatically transported to a vial where it is kept moist and cool until implantation.
The wound size is minimal, about a millimeter in diameter, and thus healing times are much shorter. Other potential benefits of robotics in hair transplantation include:
- Less invasive approach
- Speed and efficiency
- Reduced the labor intensity of the procedure
- Reduced cost to the patient
Right now only patients with dark brown or black straight hair, ages 29 to 55, and who are in good physical shape are being enrolled for the current study, but Dr. Wasserbauer is hopeful that other patients will be able to be enrolled for future trials after this current research study is finished.
Dr. Wasserbauer has mixed feelings about a robot potentially replacing her surgical expertise. “It is exciting to be a part of such a cutting-edge project,” she says. “Whatever is best for the patients in the long run is what is really important, but I hate the idea that I might be replaced by a robot someday. Right now I am still faster than the robot, but it is gaining on me and I can imagine the day when a robot like this would be in wide use.”