Since the inception of Follicular Unit Extraction hair transplant techniques, docs have been looking for ways to increase the effectiveness of procedures, whilst reducing the labout intensity involved. One such solution has been heralded as the NeoGraft system.
Essentially the NeoGraft hair transplant procedure uses a specially designed machine to aid the extraction and insertion of hair grafts, for (in theory) a more accurate, natural looking result. NeoGraft is the latest in a line of machine-assisted options, similar to the ARTAS robotic transplant option.
There are those within the industry however, who are concerned about the impact that semi-automated systems could have on patient care.
Spencer Kobren of hit US radio show The Bald Truth, highlighted his concerns back in 2010 when the NeoGraft solution was first introduced.
The other issue however is potentially very harmful, and that is the possibility that poorly trained, unqualified and inexperienced individuals could offer hair transplant procedures to the general public. On the NeoGraft website the manufacturer itself states:
“The FUE procedure using NeoGraft is not so dependent on the skill of the doctor”
However we are completely in agreement with Dr Bauman when he says:
“NeoGraft is still just a tool, it is not a substitute for a qualified hair transplant surgeon and surgical team”
In reality it is unlikely that hair restoration practices will open in the United States and United Kingdom, utilising unqualified surgeons. There is however a major concern about such clinics opening in overseas hair transplant epicentres that are less heavily regulated, for example in India, Thailand or Turkey. There is a very real possibility that in pursuit of more profit and lower prices, machines such as NeoGraft and ARTAS could be used to replace the skills, experience and judgment of a real human transplant doctor.
As Dr Bauman puts it:
“How the harvested follicles (grafts) are handled by the surgical team and how they are artistically placed into the scalp by the surgeon still determines the naturalness, density and results from the procedure. If the follicles are ‘mishandled’ by an inexperienced team of technicians or without appropriate magnification and instrumentation, graft survival may be impacted – thereby squandering precious donor hair follicles. Also, if the surgeon does not have an aesthetic sense and understand the subtle nuances of hairline design, the naturalness of the results can ultimately suffer. In the worst cases, these unnatural hairlines may require repair.”