Motorized FUE Tools
Like manual tools, motorized FUE devices harvest follicular units via a sharp or blunt tipped punch. However, the hollow punch is attached to a small motor rather than a manual handle and is typically operated by a button on the device or a foot pedal. Depending on the motor, the punch is either spun (rotated) continuously in one direction, or it oscillates (alternates) back and forth in opposite directions. When placed around a follicular unit, the rapid spinning motion of the motorized punch allows for fast scalp puncture and graft separation without manual force from the operating hair transplant surgeon.
While the idea behind the motorized punch was very innovative, physicians initially experienced decreased yield when switching from manual to motorized devices. According to Coalition hair transplant surgeon and FUE innovator Dr. Alan Feller, this was because the nature of the early motorized devices placed too much strain on the fragile follicular units. Dr. Feller states that damage to follicular units comes from excessive torsion, tension, heat, and friction. When motorized FUE tools rotate too quickly, pull harshly on the grafts, or become hot while spinning, excessive strain is placed upon the follicular units and causes damage.
In order to decrease strain from motorized devices, FUE hair transplant surgeons designed new and better motorized tools that minimize tension, torsion, heat, and friction forces. These changes involve decreasing the speed (rotations per minute) of the rotating punch, minimizing the size of the “arc” pattern made by rotation or oscillation, switching to oscillating (opposed to rotating) heads, using both sharp and blunt tips when appropriate, and decreasing the number of rotations used to remove each graft.
Given these innovations, modern motorized tools have become highly effective, and allow physicians to remove large numbers of grafts per hour (upwards of 700 per hour compared to 200 – 500 with manual devices) with low transection rates and high yields.