Robotic revolution » Manila Bulletin Lifestyle

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Feel the confidence of regrowing your locks from the country’s first state-of-the-art hair-transplant system

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By Alex Y. Vergara

Should you find yourself in Hollywood and notice that there aren’t a lot of bald or balding guys around, a great deal of the credit should go to Los Angeles-based Dr. Craig Ziering, a 27-year veteran hair-restoration surgeon with 22,000 procedures, including the heads full of hair of not a few celebrities, tucked under his belt.

“Yes, you can probably say that there aren’t a lot of bald guys running around Hollywood these days,” said Ziering with a chuckle. “But these 22,000 patients I’ve handled come from various parts of the world.”

Ziering recently visited Manila to introduce the latest and upgraded version of the Artas, a robotic hair transplantation and restoration system, which is considered the first of its kind in the country and is exclusive to The A-Institute’s Hair Lab in Bonifacio Global City.

Dr. Craig Ziering, 27-year veteran hair restoration surgeon with 22,000 procedures tucked under his belt

Dr. Craig Ziering, 27-year veteran hair restoration surgeon with 22,000 procedures tucked under his belt

First introduced in the United States in 2011, Artas, which takes pride in its exclusive follicular unit extraction technique, has been part of The A-Institute’s arsenal of beauty machines for several years now. Among the first local celebrity patients to undergo the treatment are designer Inno Sotto, director Mike Carandang, and actor Edu Manzano.

Dr. Jose Crisanto III, or Dr. Third to his famous as well as low-key patients, heads the Hair Lab. He’s a veteran Filipino surgeon with more than 10 years of hair-transplantation experience in New York before joining The A-Institute a couple of years ago.

Artas can also remedy women’s thinning hair problems, as well as enhance facial hair, giving patients fuller eyebrows or beards.

What Ziering introducedwasn’t a new machine, but an an upgrade to Artas’ software—which started at 4X before graduating within a short span of six years to 9X. In plain speak, this equates to faster, more accurate harvesting time of hair follicles from the patient’s donor area—the back of his head, which isn’t prone to balding or thinning hair—and “replanted” to balding spots usually in front.

The newest version doesn’t speed up the replanting process, but it cuts the amount of time involved in “site-making”—a three-dimensional diagram or design that the Artas robot does to maximize placement of grafts on bald or balding areas. The same robot will do the incisions and replanting on the scalp based on the diagram.

The newest version now also uses white light and has double the number of cameras to make extraction easier. Since the robot also does the actual extraction and replanting of hair grafts under the guidance of an experienced doctor, human fatigue is no longer a concern, resulting in a more consistent and even procedure.

The length of the procedure will depend on the amount of work the patient needs or wants done. Based on Zierling’s experience, it usually takes one sitting, sometimes two, to get the job done. With the help of local anesthesia, a typical sitting extends anywhere from two to four hours.“I like to tell my patients that it takes as long as it takes to have it perfect,” he said. “You’re committing the day to the procedure, the result of which will last an entire lifetime.”

Dr. Jose Crisanto III, head of the A-Institute's HairLab

Dr. Jose Crisanto III, head of the A-Institute’s HairLab

These days, the pain involved during the procedure, the two doctors assured, is tolerable. Unlike such procedures as breast augmentation and liposuction, there’s hardly any post-op pain and swelling involved in Artas’ brand of hair transplantation.“If you’re doing any type of procedure and you can do it quicker without sacrificing the quality, then you’re making it easier and less painful for the patient,” said Ziering.

To gain a better appreciation of what Artas does, Ziering walked us through the old, slower, bloodier, and more painful way of doing hair transplants as recent as the early 2000s.

Before, doctors like Ziering and Crisanto resorted to sutures after removing linear strips of tissue containing hair follicles at the back of the head. Since they become, in effect, wounds, those series of sutures caused the scalp to tighten.

“With the Artas system, we’re making little punctures on the scalp instead,” he said. “This process actually loosens the scalp. The result—no pain the next day.”

He likened the Artas to “thousands of mini organ transplants.” As such, harvesting requires the machine to go deep enough into the scalp to extract each hair strand with the bulb intact. Simply put, he said, “You’re removing the hair from one location and transferring it to another, so that the hair can grow.”

Artas drew inspiration from an earlier system, a two-punch mechanism to puncture the scalp, make a core, and remove the hair strand and its bulb. Since it was a mechanical device operated by a person, it was a slower, more labor-intensive process that took a long time and was subject to human error.

Such limitations have become a thing of the past since the Artas robot took over. The transplanted hair will eventually fall off leaving the bulb, which will go on a resting stage. But in six months, there will be visible signs of new hair growth on the transplanted area.

“Pain is relative,” added Crisanto. “It also depends on the patient’s motivation. If the patient wants to have his full head of hair restored, there will be a little tradeoff.”

The pain usually starts during the administration of anesthesia. But it soon goes away once the anesthesia takes effect. By the second day, the patient can already have his hair shampooed by the clinic staff during the follow-up checkup. As for the procedure’s price tag, it usually starts at P250,000, depending on how many grafts are required.

“I always tell my patients that a good hair transplant is priceless,” said Ziering. “If you get bad results, no matter how much you paid, you end up paying too much.”

 

Artas Robotic Hair Restoration is available at Hair Lab at The-A Institute, 3/f Burgos Park Bldg., Forbestown Rd., Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, tel (2) 573-1420 or (+63917) 728-3838, email info@theainstitute.com

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