Reprinted from The Daily Iowan
November 18, 1999

State's first hair removal experiment is her suit

A local study intends to determine which method of hair removal is more effective.
By Carrie Johnston
The Daily lowan

For UI freshman April Russell, shaving unwanted hair is the worst part of her day.

"I absolutely hate to shave," she said. "I hate having all of that hairiness."

But Russell's hair removal woes could l)c alleviated in the future if hair removal using a laser turns out to he effective and economical.

Rebecca Berstler, a licensed laserolegist ancl owner of the Clinic of Electrology and Laser, 369 E. College St., has initiated the first long-term study of removing hair with a laser in the state. She hopes to publish a consumer report backed up by significant research results in two years.

Berstler, who owns a second clinic in Cedar Rapids, started two controlled testing sequences in July and September to determine which method - electrolysis or laser removal - is more effective.

The results of this study may be of interest to those who perform the daily ritual of shaving, including Ul freshman Courtney Sullivan, who said she would give anything not to have to shave.

"It takes up so much time," she said. "And then, look! The next day, all of the hair has grown back again. It drives me crazy."

The two methods under study are both used at Berstler's clinics. Klectrolysis stops hair growth by killing the root of the hair follicle with an electric current. The laser beams sense hair pigment and travel to the root to stop growth.

There have been queries about the effectiveness of electrolysis as opposed to the laser, Berstler said.

Charlie Wittmack/The Daily lowan

Rebecca Berstler performs iassr hair-removal at her clinic Wednesday afternoon. This unidentified man was undergoing a second treatment to remove hair from his back.


"Some people in the business are afraid to find out the truth," she said. "We are really putting the two methods to the test."

Cheryl Klliolt of the Wave Length," 170.') S. First St.. performs only electrolysis: she said she doesn't think the laser is better.

"The laser hasn't been done long enough to determine any long-term results yet," she said. "People may be happy with it initially, hut no long-lcnn studies have been completed."

It will lake two years to discover the long-term differences between the laser and electrolysis procedures, she said.

Because of the lack of research, Berstler has started her own. Subjects have the hail-on specific areas of their bodies removed, such as hair on the chin or the underarm. One half of the hair in the area is treated by electrolysis, the other by laser; the results are monitored and recorded, she said.

Part icipants in the study, most of whom are regular clients at Berstler's clinic, have both procedures done for free. she said.

"There has never been a study done like this," she said. "Electrolysis has been around since 1983. hut we have only been using the laser for over a year. We want to know the real outcomes."

The effects of Berstler's study so far seem to favor the laser.

"We have already gotten some phenomenal results," she said. "1 am surprised to see it is cheaper to do laser, and participants love the results."

Berstler and her team, in addition to evaluating the effectiveness of the hair-removal methods, are also calculating the difference in cost.

Elliott said it seems that customers often opt for methods of hair removal after looking into their wallets.

"It depends on the amount of money a person has at the time he or she wants hair removal done," she said. "(The laser procedure) is a lot more money up front."

The laser is cheaper in the long run because electrolysis has to be done multiple times and one hair at a time, Berstler said. The laser covers a large area, requiring fewer treatments, arid it works quickly, she said.

The results of Berstler's study are due out in July and September 2001.
01 reporter Carrie Johnston can be reached at:



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