Despite studies across the globe claiming that robots can perform hair transplant and Bangaloreans becoming more conscious than ever of premature balding, most clinics and consultant surgeons in the city have chosen not to adopt the latest technology yet.
Attributing these claims to marketing gimmicks by a few medical set-ups, Bangalore-based consultant plastic surgeon Dr N Hemanth Kumar explains, “Robots are definitely faster, but the technology has not yet advanced to a stage where we can safely use them with minimal scars and wastage.”
Clarifying that there are two methods of performing hair transplants - Follicular Unit of Transplantation (FUT), where strips of hair are transplanted to the host site or the bald area, and Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE), where the grafts of individual hair follicles are extracted - the surgeon says, “The procedure followed now is generally FUE, which involves extraction of the hair follicles using a punch-like device, generally 0.7 to 0.9 mm in diameter. But when robots perform the surgery, the punch they use is larger, leading to bigger scars that take longer to heal,” says Dr Ashok B C, another consultant cosmetic and plastic surgeon in the city. Therefore, the cost, which is about `40 lakh, and the lack of precision, despite supervision by the surgeon, do not make this a viable option for the Indian market.
According plastic surgeons, there are several other myths and misconceptions associated with hair transplant. “Many people believe that another person’s hair is transplanted to the scalp of the candidate, but this is not true. We take hair from the back and sides of the scalp of the candidate, and redistribute it equally in the host area,” says Dr Kumar, adding that those who have lost too much hair cannot opt for the procedure.
Interestingly, the procedure is performed mostly on men who are balding near the crown and central area of the scalp though sometimes women whose hair is thinning near the parting line also undergo the surgery.
The surgeons also add a word of caution - as doctors need not hold a particular qualification to perform hair transplant surgeries, a thorough background check of the surgeon is a must.
“Even a dentist or gynaecologist can perform the surgery. So what is essential is that it has to be done properly, otherwise the candidate can end up looking awkward if the hairline is not planned correctly or the follicles are not equally distributed,” says Dr Ashok. “Also, as the hair of the person is already weak, if he or she doesn’t take care of it post the surgery, it can result in increased hair fall and probably baldness once more.”