Me First! Flesh-Harvesting, Hair-Transplanting Robot Gets FDA Approval

By Patrick Morgan | April 25, 2011 10:31 am

Some bald men are willing to go to great lengths to grow hair, including paying a robot to punch holes through their scalp skin. Recently approved by the FDA, a new robot takes out tiny pieces of your flesh in order to harvest hair follicles that can then be manually implanted into your bald spots.

Dubbed the ARTAS System, this automated robot images your head to single out a follicular unit, and then uses its robotic arm to make 1 mm-diameter “dermal punches” into your scalp. It continues extracting hair follicles from parts of your head that have sufficient amounts of hair (a process known as follicular unit extraction, or FUE), and these bits of flesh and hair are then stored until a doctor implants them into your bald and thinning areas. Within a few months, these newly-planted hairs start growing just like your other ones.

Having a robot punch out small pieces of your flesh certainly beats the alternative: strip harvesting. This technique does exactly what its name implies: It harvests skin-strips from your scalp. Then your doctor carefully extracts the follicular units from the strip, and implants then into your hairless patches. Strip harvesting is more painful than the robot-led-FUE technique, as you’d expect, and it leaves linear scars, creating unnatural-looking hairlines.

Right now, ARTAS can only identify and extract straight black or brown hair. So any balding blondies still have a convenient excuse to not pay ARTAS a visit—in addition to the whole “I’m not going near a flesh-harvesting robot” thing.

Related Content:
80beats: How Scientists Unintentionally Cured Baldness in Mice
Discoblog: Warning, Astronauts: You Might Return from Space Bloated and Bald
Discoblog: Balding Penguin Gets a Neoprene Toupee
80beats: From the Laotian Forest, a New Bald Bird: Meet the Barefaced Bulbul

Image: Restoration Robotics

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