There certainly has been a lot of interest about Latisse in the last few years, let me give you a brief overview.
Doctors and patients alike have noticed that eyelash growth is a side effect of a class of glaucoma drugs called prostaglandins. These prostaglandins are eye drops many patients use as a first line pharmaceutical in the treatment of glaucoma. These prostaglandin analogs lower the pressure within the eye (the largest risk factor in glaucoma) by roughly 30%, which helps manage and prevent progression of the disease.
Lumigan (a prostaglandin eye drop), sold by California drug maker Allergan Inc, is the same drug and concentration as Latisse, (bimatoprost ophthalmic solution 0.03%). In December 2008, Latisse was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for cosmetic use by prescription. Latisse is indicated to treat hypotrichosis (eyelash thinning) of the eyelashes by increasing their growth, including length, thickness, and darkness.
Lumigan and Latisse are used differently. Lumigan is an eyedrop, and Latisse gets dabbed along the lash line, much like mascara, on the upper eyelids to promote longer, thicker, darker lashes.
Allergan states that “Latisse users can expect to experience longer, fuller, and darker eyelashes in as little as eight weeks, with full results in 16 weeks.” If Latisse is stopped, eyelashes will gradually return to their previous appearance as new eyelashes grow in. It will take a few weeks for effectiveness to be seen, and will need to be maintained to keep eyelashes full. It typically sell for $140 to $160 a bottle, each bottle lasts for about a month and a half.
There are interesting articles in the NY Times: Long Lashes Without Prescription, but With Risks and Consumer Reports: Be warned: Latisse readily available without prescription. These articles describes a new controversy, the selling of Latisse without a prescription or seeing an eye doc.
Also, it seems there are many places on the web where one can purchase Latisse. Many of these sites will sell the Latisse without the patient being seen or evaluated. Many on-line pharmacies to nurses to general physicians are also allowed to dispense Latisse. M.D.’s that don’t specialize in eye care will be the first to tell you they had probably a ½ day dedicated to ophthalmology while in med school, so how are these people evaluating and dealing with these patients?
I realize there are not many serious complications associated with Latisse, but who better to deal with them than your eye doctor: see them for an initial evaluation, get an Rx, fill it at a pharmacy, and follow-up with them if you are experiencing any side effects.
Common side effects after using Latisse solution are:
- Itching of the eyes
- Redness of the eyes and eyelids
- Pigment changes (darkening) to periorbital pigmented tissues and eyelashes
- Increased brown iris pigmentation which is likely to be permanent
- Hair growth in areas where Latisse solution comes in repeated contact with skin surfaces
TAKE HOME MESSAGE: Latisse is available for prescription for the treatment of eyelash thinning. It will take a few weeks for effectiveness to be seen, and will need to be maintained to keep eyelashes full. Keep in mind of the side effects and see your eye doctor if you have any adverse reactions. Be aware of imitation products, because the FDA has seized imitations in 2007, claiming they can lead to blindness. Patients that have glaucoma, inflammation in the eye or wear contact lenses should ask their eye doctor before using this product.