Health Check: Hair doctor has hair transplant

Dr. Robert Leonard

Dr. Robert Leonard, a hair restoration surgeon, isn't used to playing patient in his own office.

"I think he's been thinking about it for a while, for years, but after doing this for 27 years I think he thought it was time," said Dr. Matthew Lopresti, a hair transplant surgeon.

It was time to do something about his hair loss.

"I've always been concerned about my hairline receding a little bit, a little at a time," Leonard said.

So once a robotic system called ARTAS came out, Leonard trained on it himself. Then he trained Lopresti, who now works in his office.

"For him to trust me to do this is a great privilege," Lopresti said.

First, Leonard had to shave the back of his head so hair from that area could be removed and transplanted where his hair is receding. It was removed robotically using a large TV screen. Everything is magnified, and one hair follicle at a time is removed.

"His procedure took about six or eight hours," Lopresti said. "It is more time-consuming than the traditional procedure."

"The transplant was really a lot easier than what I thought it was going to be," Leonard said. "A real cool thing about it is I can really empathize what my patients have been experiencing all this time."

"The biggest pro of doing this is that it gives people the option for a hair style, whether people want to wear their hair short or long," Lopresti said.

For people with long hair, a patch can be shaved underneath so no one has to know. Leonard opted for a new, shorter hair style.

"Well, I've been told I look younger, but it's a little unusual to have my hair this short. But it's growing on me and I hope this grows a little faster too," Leonard said.

Because the hair follicles are removed individually instead of an entire strip, there are no visible scars on the back of his head. It's less invasive. There's less pain, quicker recovery and no sutures.

"So, Dr. Leonard will start seeing results at about three months the hair that is placed will start to grow through the skin, like stubbles coming through the top of the scalp. Noticeable -- and by that I mean, cosmetically noticeable -- at about six months," Lopresti said.

Leonard can expect to see full results in about 18 months.

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