Latisse: An FDA-approved Treatment for Longer Eyelashes

Prescription Latisse for Fuller, Darker and Longer Eyelashes

The quest for longer, thicker eyelashes. Andreas Kuehn

Many people, especially women, desire to have thicker and longer eyelashes. Until now, sporting longer eyelashes was only possible with the use of fake lashes. However, due to the discovery of a desirable side effect of a glaucoma drug, a treatment for thicker and longer eyelashes may be prescribed by your eye doctor. In December 2008, the FDA approved Latisse (bimatoprost ophthalmic solution) for the treatment of hypotrichosis, the medical term for eyelashes that are lacking in quantity or quality.

Latisse is FDA-approved for the treatment of hypotrichosis, which is having inadequate eyelashes. However, doctors will most likely use it off-label for aesthetic reasons.

What Is Latisse?

Latisse is a prescription treatment used to grow eyelashes, making them longer, thicker and darker. Latisse was discovered when doctors began prescribing bimatoprost, the active ingredient in Latisse, for glaucoma patients or patients with ocular hypertension. Bimatoprost was first approved in 2001 as a drug to lower intraocular pressure in people with open-angle glaucoma or ocular hypertension. When doctors began prescribing these drugs for the treatment of glaucoma several years ago, they noticed a desirable side effect: increased eyelash growth. Patients would return with thicker, darker and longer eyelashes in as little as 6 to 8 weeks.

If You Want Longer Eyelashes, Should You Try Latisse?

Latisse may or may not be safe for you to use.

The Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that you do not use Latisse if you have an active infection, inflammation, decreased vision or eye trauma. If you have an eye condition, such as glaucoma or macular edema, consult with your ophthalmologist or optometrist before using Latisse. Follow the instructions closely while using the drug.

If you have any concerns, your doctor can evaluate you to make sure you are a good candidate for Latisse as well as prescribe it. Never use any prescription medication not specifically prescribed for you.

Are there any side-effects or consequences of using Latisse?

Latisse should only be placed directly on the base of the upper eyelashes where the lashes come out of the eyelid margin. It should not be applied to the lower eyelid or elsewhere on the skin as unwanted hair growth may occur. It should also not be instilled into the eye. Some people who use Latisse develop redness and itchy eyelids. The eyelid skin could darken or increase in pigmentation. Although rare, hazel colored eyes have been known to darken while taking Latisse. This iris change is permanent. 

What happens if I stop taking Latisse?

Once you stop using Latisse, your eyelashes will gradually return to their regular state. This may take around three months to occur.

How much does Latisse cost?

A prescription for Latisse, which is only obtainable through a doctor, costs about four dollars per day. Prices vary regionally, but the average cost of a 30-day supply is between $100 and $150. It may pay to do a little research, as some eye doctors offer volume discounts for two or three-month supplies.

Source: American Academy of Ophthalmology. Academy Position on Latisse, 17 Feb 2009.

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