Robotic Hair Transplant vs. Stem Cell Hair Loss Therapy

Hair loss is a very rampant problem in men today. In fact statistics show that balding may already start around the age of 35 and with 85% of hair loss victims going totally bald or experiencing severe hair thinning at the age of 50.  However, hair transplant technologies are also catching up to this demand and with the advancement of the times. Cutting edge technologies introduces hair loss patients to a number of options and this includes robotic hair transplant and stem cell hair loss therapy. Being one of the latest to be added to the roster of hair restoration procedures, consumers want to know which one holds a better advantage.

Robotic Hair Transplant

The one responsible for developing this automated machine that performs hair transplant surgery is a company called Restoration Robotics which was founded by Dr. Frederick H. Moll. This is more popularly known as the ARTAS System which performs the scoring process in FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction) approach.

Robotic Hair Transplant ARTAS
Restoration Robotics was founded by Dr. Frederick H. Moll. Image Source:

The ARTAS system is equipped with an easy user interface, a video imaging system, a needle punch mechanism, disposable dermal punches, and disposable cartridges. The machine is programmed to cut through at a specific and uniform depth with the use of its double punch extraction technique. In order to lessen the transection rate, the machine has a large bore needle used for scoring, specifically 1.65mm in diameter.

The patient is positioned into the machine with the head secured by straps to avoid abrupt movement. Once finished in a particular area, the surgeon then reposition the patient to work on another. The downside to this is that it is not able to remove hair follicles lower than the middle and back side of the head.

Once this is done, the surgeon now manually removes the hair grafts with the use of forceps. The transplantation then follows which is executed using the traditional technique.

ARTAS lessens the time needed to remove the hair grafts, which is actually the challenge in FUE. But the drawback is that it is restricted only to brown or black colored hair and it can’t be applicable to curly hair.

There are surgeons who are claiming that a robot is not equipped with the right call of judgment and discerning eye that an experienced surgeon has. The machine can be programmed to automatic and have it do its work creating a hundred punches within a small section of the scalp. Only after this would the surgeon be able to check the transection rate. But the problem here is that it could continue doing the punches before the surgeon even realizes the damage.

Another concern raised with the ARTAS is that the large bore needle creates larger wounds resulting to bigger scars compared to the traditional FUE. Adding to this it could transect through other surrounding hair follicles.

However the overall result and rating of the ARTAS system allowed it to earn FDA clearance to restore hair in men affected with androgenetic alopecia.

Stem Cell Hair Loss Therapy

Stem Cell Hair Loss Photo
Hair follicle stem cells (green, top) are lost (below) from follicles during hair regeneration leading to alopecia, or hair loss. Image Source:

This hair loss treatment is still being looked into by experts. It has already been proven to be an effective treatment for hair loss in mice, but today the phase 2 of the study which is done on men and women has just been launched by the Aderans Research Institute (ARI).

It aims to determine the regenerative treatment that stem cell has on male and female pattern hair loss. By taking the primary cell types from the hair follicles using PRP (platelet rich plasma) method, it is then grown in a controlled laboratory setting before they are introduced into the patient’s skin where they are observed to generate hair growth. To promote the migration of these injected stem cells into the affected area, laser treatment is directed over it.

The procedure is performed once and could be over in just an hour, although there may be some slight discomfort experienced immediately afterwards.

The limitation here is that this treatment is restricted to male/female pattern baldness or androgenetic alopecia. But further studies are still being made on how to regenerate hair growth despite the cause on why they shed off.

Which is better?

Robotic hair transplant and Stem cell therapy are most certainly new age treatments. ARTAS uses an invasive approach in restoring hair loss while stem cell therapy employs a more conservative approach. Robotic hair transplant is already used commercially by a number of clinics; meanwhile stem cell therapy is still in its experimental stages. But if proven to be effective, this can be a valuable solution however it is expected to be more expensive than ARTAS.

If you base it on aesthetics stem cell therapy could produce better outcome because it eliminates scarring. Also it eliminates the need of removing hair from donor sites, as new ones can be grown in the laboratory setting. But probable patients should be ready to shell some money if they really want to grow back hair this way.