Dr. Albert Geyser’s X-Ray Hair Removal System,
In the early 20th century with the advent of radiology, many of the first radiologists had little idea of how dangerous x-rays can be. When exposed to human skin and flesh over a long period of time x-rays can cause deadly cancer and terrible disfigurement. That is why today it is the duty of radiologists to expose their patients to as little x-rays as possible. In 1908 a experimental radiologist named Albert Geyser invented the Cornell Tube, a device which he believed eliminated most of the dangers associated with x-rays. Geyser was certainly one who understood the risks as he was forced to have the fingers on one of his hands amputated due to x-ray induced cancer.
From 1908 to the end of World War I Geyser, along with his son Frank who was a licensed doctor, experimented with the use of x-rays to clear acne, moles, wrinkles, blemishes, and unwanted hair. By 1920, his methods became so popular that he opened his own clinic. His most popular treatment was the permanent removal of unwanted facial hair. Basically the patient placed her face on the device while being blasted with high doses of x-rays (most of his customers were women). To make the procedure permanent the patient often had to undergo more than one treatment.
In 1924 Geyser founded the Tricho Corporation, which manufactured Geyser’s x-ray machines. By the mid 1920’s there were similar x-ray clinics all over the United States. In the meantime Geyser continually maintained that his treatments were safe. However, his treatments were not safe, far from it, they were extremely dangerous. One of the first to come forward was Ida E. Thomas, who sued Geyser for $100,000 due to severe disfigurement of her face. Then a floodgate of women came forward who also suffered severe disfigurement due to the treatments. The x-ray treatments had successfully removed their unwanted hair, but long term side effects of the treatments caused their skin to dry out, wrinkle, swell, and even chip or fall off. In the long term many women suffered from facial cancers which required surgery and removal of facial parts. Some died of their cancers.
Albert Geyser and the Tricho Corporation were sued out of business. In 1929 the American Medical Association condemned the use of x-ray hair removal as highly dangerous. A short time later the practice was banned in the United States. From 1930 to 1950 scores of illegal underground clinics continued to operate, causing disfigurement and death all in the name of beauty.