The hair transplant technique known as Robotic FUE, r-FUE, Robotic Hair Transplant or ARTAS is generally regarded as one of the most advanced methods of hair restoration currently available. To help you learn more about Robotic FUE, we have gathered together some of the most frequently asked questions from our patients:
How does Robotic FUE work?
ARTAS uses a robotic arm to harvest hair from the donor area of patients with male patterned baldness. The hair is extracted by using digital microscopy, sophisticated image interpretation software and a robotic arm to extracts follicular unit grafts. The computerized system of the robot calculates hair distribution, angles and orientation of each hair follicle. The robotic system conveniently prevents the possibility of overharvesting of the donor hair. At the beginning of the procedure, the hair transplant surgeon marks the donor area on the back of the scalp and sets the initial parameters for the robot. The patient is then placed in a flexed forward seated position with their face gently kept into position over a comfortable donut shaped pillow only during the extraction of grafts. The ARTAS system uses multiple cameras to identify the location and orientation of the follicular units to be extracted and then harvests them individually. Prior to the onset of ARTAS scoring the grafts, the physician will administer local anesthetic to reduce the possibility of pain during the procedure.
How long does it take to perform?
In general, the ARTAS technique takes between 6-10 hours depending on the number of grafts needed and the final results desired by the patient. The duration of the procedure is directly related to the number of grafts needed which will be determined during your initial hair transplant consultation (link).
What is different between ARTAS and conventional FUE?
Many steps of a Robotic FUE are similar to other methods of FUE transplant such as anesthesia, site making and implantation of the grafts. Unlike a regular FUE through manual or other motorized systems, ARTAS analyzes the grid of scalp that is chosen by the physician for the grafts to be harvested. Specific targeted follicular units are identified, the angle and distribution of hair is calculated and the robotic arm then harvests grafts. Listed below are some of the advantages and disadvantages of ARTAS over more traditional FUE methods:
- ARTAS is more consistent and the length of the procedure does not affect the quality of extraction.
- ARTAS does not require a surgeon to possess great hand-eye coordination.
- It has a faster learning curve in comparison to the manual methods.
- Certain curly hair may be more easily extracted by the robot.
- ARTAS is limited to harvesting in the posterior scalp. At times, manual methods may provide better quality grafts from the posterior areas of scalp and temples.
- ARTAS is only approved for hair extraction from scalp. It cannot extract hair from the other areas such as beard or body.
- ARTAS may work slowly when the patient’s hair has rapid angle changes as it maneuvers about the designated harvesting grid. .
- ARTAS mechanical machinery is prone to malfunction and the surgeon may have to covert the harvesting part of the procedure to other methods.
- The donor hair must be trimmed to 1mm in length in order for the robot to scan and extract. Non-shaven or celebrity hair transplant (which we do not shave) is not currently possible with ARTAS.
Should I choose ARTAS FUE or other FUE techniques?
As mentioned above ARTAS has advantages and disadvantages. It can work well for certain donor hair types while others might have better quality and efficiency using manual methods. It is best to leave the decision of how to effectively harvest, and by which method, to your hair transplant physician.
We frequently use more than one technique to harvest during a single procedure. It is not uncommon that we start the procedure with one method in a particular area of the scalp and then switch methods if we feel it can improve graft quality. There are many factors to consider in the decision of which particular method works better. The exit angle of the hair and the depth of the follicle changes whether harvesting from the sides or back of the scalp. Those natural changes dictate the adjustments we must make during the course of the procedure. If successful with the initial choice of graft harvesting method, we will continue with that same method for the duration of the procedure.
What is the maximum number of grafts I should expect in one session?
Time and efficiency become factors as patients find it difficult to tolerate surgeries that last longer than 10 hours in a single day. The final goal is to harvest the best quality grafts in the most time efficient manner in order to ensure the best possible results. We usually don’t plan over 2000 FUE grafts in one session regardless of the procedure.
Is there scarring after the surgery?
Similar to other FUE procedures, the ARTAS system does not remove a large portion of scalp as is done in strip procedures. Instead, it harvests individual units of hair or follicular units so there is no linear scarring after the procedure. This allows a patient to wear just about any short or long hairstyle depending on the preference.
What is the typical recovery time?
Since there are no surgical incisions or stitches involved with ARTAS, the recovery time is actually much shorter than the more traditional strip technique. Patients can return to their regular activities after the 4th day and strenuous activities after a week. There might be some swelling and minor discomfort following the surgery that should resolve itself in several days. Keep in mind that patients heal at different rates and individual results will vary.
Does the final result look natural?
An ARTAS hair transplant, when compared to other forms of FUE, provides a natural appearing result that is virtually undetectable to the average eye. The final results give the patient the option of wearing a short or long hairstyle since there is essentially no scarring. If the transplanted hair is cared for properly, the final results should last a lifetime. Rest assured that the transplanted hair will not be affected by the conditions that initially caused the male patterned baldness. Each newly transplanted hair will be merely moved from an area that is considered the permanent zone to the recipient area and therefore these hairs will not be subject to the same hormonal changes that resulted in the hair loss to begin with. .
When should I expect to see my new hair growing after ARTAS?
It is important to remember that transplanted hair does not grow instantaneously. The hair will appear more like stubble on the head immediately following the transplant. The transplanted hairs will initially grow for a few weeks and then enter the resting or telogen phase before falling out. A majority of patients lose most of their newly transplanted hair within 2 months. The transplanted hairs will essentially “reset” figuratively and start to grow again once they enter the anagen phase at about 2-3 months. At this point, the transplanted hair will appear as thin, fine hair as they start their growth period. Over the next several months, the hair grows thicker and coarse. After 8 to12 months, the final results start to become visible. Since each patient heals at a different rate, the time necessary for the final result varies among patients.
How much does ARTAS hair transplant cost?
The cost of robotic hair restoration depends on a variety of factors with the most notable being the number of grafts harvested during the procedure. This number is dependent on the final results desired by the patient in terms of density. The price will be determined during the consultation appointment with the hair restoration physician. Learn more about how the surgery price is determined on our hair transplant cost page.
Who is the best candidate for ARTAS FUE hair transplant?
ARTAS is a type of FUE procedure in which grafts are harvested through the help of a robotic arm. As with other types of FUE procedures, ARTAS is ideal for those patients who like to have the option of wearing their hair short and prefer not to have a linear scar on their scalp. In general, ideal robotic FUE patients are the same candidates as those for traditional FUE.
What are the risks and complications of ARTAS?
The common complications of the ARTAS procedure are the same as other FUE procedures in that swelling, bruising, itching, mild discomfort and pain may occur. There is also the risk of scalp numbness after the procedure that can last hours, and occasionally days, but this is typically self-limiting. One other risk that should be mentioned is “shock loss”. True to its name, shock loss results in an expedited loss of native hair in the recipient area thought to be related to inflammation that occurs during the course of natural healing. Thankfully, not all patients experience this and its incidence can be greatly reduced if a patient resumes/ starts using prescription medication given by the hair transplant surgeon for a period of 6 months after surgery.
What to know after the procedure?
The day after ARTAS surgery, patients return to our office for instruction on how to properly wash hair during the immediate post-op period. Also, patients will be asked to sleep in a semi-sitting 45 degree angled position in order to minimize forehead/scalp swelling. A special neck pillow will be provided for use at night to help prevent swelling and minimize movement or rubbing of the grafts during sleep. Basic daily activities can be resumed after the 4th day and all activities, including strenuous exercise, can be resumed after a week. A hat is provided on the day of surgery and should be worn to help avoid direct sun exposure to the scalp. It is recommended patients avoid direct exposure to the sun for a period of 6 months post transplant. Spray sunblock SPF 30 or greater should be used when swimming or any time that patients are out in the sun unprotected by a hat. More information about this topic is available at after FUE transplant.
Is there ever a need for follow-up or revision r-FUE?
As a patient gets older, they might progress to a higher Norwood class of hair loss and this implies further loss of their own native hair. As a result, patients often decide to undergo a second hair transplant to address the new areas of balding. As you entertain the idea of a second hair transplant, keep in mind that the previously transplanted hairs were removed from the “permanent zone” and they will likely never be lost. Each transplant case is different with some patients possibly needing additional grafts to maintain the desired density and fullness even in a previously transplanted area. Once again, this could be due to the loss of neighboring native hair. Once donor scalp hair is exhausted, additional donor hair can be obtained from elsewhere on the body i.e. beard, chest and extremities (ref to beard/chest FUE page). We do have patients with advancing Norwood class who return to us over the course of many years for a 3rd transplant. These patients are perfect examples of those who may benefit from a beard to scalp FUE.