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The robot that can reverse baldness
The FDA gives the nod to a machine that plucks bits of flesh off bald heads, helping doctors perform hair transplants. Is this better than Rogaine?
The ARTAS system will cure baldness! But first it needs to pluck out chunks of scalp skin to harvest what hair is there.
The ARTAS system will cure baldness! But first it needs to pluck out chunks of scalp skin to harvest what hair is there.
Restorationrobotics.com
T

he image: The FDA has approved a device called the Artas System (see image below), which removes small pieces of skin from hairy parts of a balding man's head, so they can be implanted in areas that need follicular assistance. As Tim Hornyak at CNET describes it, "the patient sits in the Artas chair, and his hair is cut to about 1 millimeter. A camera-equipped robotic arm under the control of a doctor then initiates 'small dermal punches' while harvesting individual follicles." They are later manually transplanted, develop their own blood supply, and eventually grow their own hair. Artas's function is one step in a process known as Follicular Unit Extraction, which avoids the sutures and bandages common to some hair-transplant procedures, like "strip harvesting." As of now, the machine can only be used on patients with straight, brown or black hair — blonds and redheads need not apply.
The reaction: There's "something about knowing that a robot arm will harvest your hair using 'small dermal punches' that's a little bit unsettling," says Graeme McMillan at TIME. "But to have a full head of hair for the first time in over a decade? I have to admit, I'd probably be okay with that." Blond people are lucky in that they "still have a convenient excuse to not pay Artas a visit," says Patrick Morgan at Discover Magazine. That is, "in addition to the whole 'I'm not going near a flesh-harvesting robot' thing." See the Artas machine below:

 

 

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