Alert
Close

We’re Giving Away $50,000! Enter Now. See Official Rules

HIGHLIGHTS

Open
AARP Staying Sharp: Keep Your Brain Healthy

AARP REALPAD

The tablet with free 24/7 customer support. Learn More

AARP VETERAN MEMBERSHIP

Military and Veterans Discount

CONTESTS AND SWEEPS

AARP’s Picture Your Retirement Sweepstakes

Enter the $50K Picture Your Retirement Sweepstakes. Ends 8/31/15. No purchase necessary. Enter for Official Rules.

KEEP BRAIN ACTIVE!

AARP Games - Play Now!

Webinars

Learn From the Experts

Sign up now for an upcoming webinar or find materials from a past session.

AARP BOOKS

Planning for Long-Term Care for Dummies

Get expert advice on planning for your own or a relative’s future care needs.

Learning centers

Get smart strategies for managing health conditions.

 

Arthritis

Heart Disease

Diabetes

Most Popular

Viewed

Health Beat — Take This

Hair-Loss Treatment Uses Robot

Hair-harvesting robotic arm helps implant follicles

It's a frustrating question no one can really answer: Why does the hair on the back of a man's head remain thick and lush, even while the hair on top withers and disappears?

See also: Genes associated with baldness identified.

Unfortunately, medical science still has not figured out the exact reason for male pattern baldness or even a cure, but in the meantime, your government wants to help.

Enter the hair robot.

Newly approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it's a computer-assisted robotic arm that makes it easier for surgeons to do a little cranial landscaping. Or, as its California manufacturer puts it, to "harvest hair follicles" from the back of the head and implant them in the barren or thinning areas.

The Artas System, as it's called, is faster and less invasive than traditional hair-harvesting techniques, according to Miguel Canales, M.D., medical director of Restoration Robotics, maker of the new device. It removes tiny patches of skin containing individual follicles, rather than strips of skin that can leave a noticeable scar.

There is one big catch, however: The hair-harvesting robot works only on men with straight black or brown hair. That means poor Prince William of Britain, with his thinning blond hair, is out of luck. So are African Americans and those whose hair has gone completely white or gray.

Canales says his company is "currently doing clinical testing on subjects who have salt-and-pepper hair, and initial results are good."

The new device may be a step forward in better hair transplants, but it's no miracle cure for what ails the male American scalp.

Male pattern baldness affects millions of American men. By age 50, about 85 percent of men in the United States have significantly thinning hair, according to the American Hair Loss Association, a nonprofit consumer group based in California.

New FDA approved robotic arm makes it easier for surgeons to do a little cranial landscaping.

New FDA approved robotic arm makes it easier for surgeons to do a little cranial landscaping. — PM Images/Getty Images, Michael Llewellyn/Getty Images

Billion dollar industry

To combat their receding hairlines, men spend, it's estimated, more than $1 billion annually on everything from hair transplants to toupees to medical treatments like Rogaine.

And despite the sex appeal of bald actors like Bruce Willis and Sean Connery, 50 percent of people who answered a 2010 survey by the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery said hair loss made them feel either less attractive or self-conscious.

Alan Bauman, M.D., a hair restoration physician in Boca Raton, Fla., who has been performing hair transplants for 15 years, says the Artas robotic arm is not exactly a game-changer. "I already can pluck individual follicles for transplanting, but I do it with a semi-automatic arm — mine," he says.

Even so, he's hoping the new device will allow follicles to be removed more quickly and accurately with less scarring or pain. "Anything that helps surgery be less invasive is important, especially for older patients who heal more slowly," he says. His transplant patients include many in their 40s and 50s — even some in their 80s.

"But we'll have to wait and see," he adds. "The company only has prototypes. Just because it's FDA-approved doesn't mean it's ready to be down the block from you."

Next: Does treatment work for thinning hair in women? >>

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Advertisement

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Walgreens 1 discount membership aarp

Members can earn 50 points per $1 spent on select health & wellness products at Walgreens.

member benefit aarp hear usa

Members save 15% on easy listening devices and more at the HearUSA Hearing Shop.

Eye Med 4 Membership Benefit AARP Discount

Members save up to 60% on eye exams and 30% on glasses at Target Optical.

Membership Benefits Discounts Email Genius

Brain boost? Get AARP email for access to memory exercises & more that help you focus.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points

Advertisement