Have Robotic/Semi-Automated Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) Machines Replaced Hair Transplant Surgeons?

Sun 18 Nov 2012

This question, from a member of our Hair Loss Social Community and Discussion Forums, was answered by Coalition hair transplant surgeon Dr. William Lindsey:

Recently, I consulted with a plastic surgeon who purchased a robotic FUE device without having any hair transplant surgery experience. The surgeon stated that the automated FUE device is so advanced, it can be operated effectively by inexperienced practitioners. This sounded strange, so I’m wondering: do automated/robotic FUE devices allow neophyte hair transplant surgeons to operate effectively? Have these machines replaced trained hair transplant surgeons?

Dr. William Lindsey: 

Several years ago, I went to an automated FUE device seminar run by a facial plastic surgeon that I know in our area. He is a great guy, has a much better demeanor than me and is a nice family man.

When we got to the office, immediately I was trying to calculate how I could replace all of my human resource problems and expenses with this FUE machine. It looked fantastic and all of the physicians who don’t perform many hair transplant procedures were even more excited than I was.

But as the seminar went on, I became less enthused; the grafts that I was able to see and handle, with my magnifying loupes on, were not of high enough quality in my opinion. It could be that I saw only a few poor grafts, but my interest plummeted and we left the seminar.

Follicular Unit Extraction is hard, and at present, I think that machines have not replaced the doctor. I think I’m pretty good at FUE and still we have patients who just don’t get the results they, or I, want with FUE. I tell every FUE patient, with a Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT), done at a reputable office, most people are going to get a triple or “home run,” most of the time. With FUE, you might get a home run, more likely are going to get a “double or triple”, and you might “foul out.” Strip (FUT) is not a sure thing, but its certainly more sure than FUE at providing consistent results.

I could be completely off base from that initial assessment and I’d welcome some contraption that makes FUE easy, safe, and reliable! But to date, nobody, patient or salesman, has come in my door to show me a series of grown out excellent results. Or even one grown out result for that matter that indicates the FUE machine has replaced a trained hair transplant surgeon. 

For now, I’m still waiting.
Blake – aka Future_HT_Doc

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