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Longer Eyelashes with Latisse: the Pros and Cons

Prescription Latisse for Longer Eyelashes One of the newest products to become available on the market is Latisse eyelash lengthener. This product stimulates the growth of eyelashes and has been available since December 2008 when it received FDA approval. It was actually developed from a glaucoma drug called bimatoprost when glaucoma patients noticed that longer, thicker eyelashes were a side effect of using the drug.

What does Latisse do?
Latisse noticeably lengthens, thickens and darkens natural eyelashes over a period of several months. How it works is not not fully understood, but it appears to extend the growth phase of the eyelashes. Latisse also increases the number of lashes which grow.

In studies, after 16 weeks of treatment participants reported a 25% increase in eyelash length; a 106% increase in the thickness and fullness of the lashes and an 18% increase in the darkness of the lashes. Mascara can be applied to the lashes for even more enhanced effect.

How to use Latisse
Latisse should be applied each night before bed. First, remove all eye makeup, wash your face, and take out your contact lenses. Then, using one of the disposable, sterile applicators provided, apply the drug to only the upper lashes of one eye. The applicator is designed to be used only once, so throw it away, take out a new applicator, and repeat the process for the other eye. Never reuse applicators as this can introduce or spread infection. Blot any excess solution with a tissue. After you’ve finished, wait 15 minutes before reinserting your contact lenses.

Latisse should never be applied to the lower lashes, as this increases the risk of undesirable side effects, such as darkening of the iris or skin and unwanted hair growth on the cheek. It is also not necessary to apply the drug directly to the lower lashes, as it will be transferred from the upper lashes when you blink or close your eyes. So even though you are only applying the product to your upper lashes, you will likely see results on the lower ones as well.

Safety and side effects
Latisse is considered safe for most people. However those with eye problems such as conjunctivitis or uveitis and those at risk of developing macular edema, severe allergy problems or skin infections are advised not to use the product. The product is also not recommended for women who are nursing or pregnant.

The active ingredient in Latisse lowers intraocular pressure. If you are already using medications for ocular hypertension or glaucoma, you must tell your eye doctor that you are using Latisse so he can monitor your eye pressure closely.

Some users suffer side effects such as dry eyes and eyelid skin darkening but the most significant problem was eye redness and/or itchiness, which in studies each occurred in 3.6% of users. Makers of the product, Allergan, report that permanent brown pigmentation of the iris is possible but it did not occur during trials.

Latisse is useful for those who currently use false eyelashes, including those who lost their eyelashes during chemotherapy treatment for cancer.

How to obtain Latisse
Currently Latisse is only available by prescription from your doctor as it is a drug rather than a cosmetic product. Some doctors may not be familiar with it since it is a relatively new product, but most eye doctors, cosmetic surgeons and dermatologists will be aware of its availability.

The typical price is $120 for 60 applicators, which will last for one month. Some sources offer it discounted for bulk purchases of a three-month supply.

Disadvantages of Latisse

  • It takes at least 2 months to show any signs of thicker, fuller eyelashes.
  • It's not permanent. If the Latisse treatment is stopped, the lashes revert to their former state.
  • If it gets on the skin, Latisse will stimulate unwanted hair growth in those areas.
  • It can cause darkening of the iris or skin.
  • It's currently only available by prescription.
  • It's expensive, especially compared to alternatives like mascara.
  • It may cause irritation or infection.
  • It lowers intraocular pressure.

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