A New Drug, Latisse, Makes Eyelashes Grow Longer, Thicker


It is a medical breakthrough. No, not a cure for cancer, but for the short lashed. The FDA has approved a prescription medication that makes your eyelashes grow.

We have known for years that prostaglandin medications used to treat glaucoma have an interesting side effect –they make patients’ eyelashes grow. Now a prescription drug is available that is specifically for treatment of hypotrichosis of the eyelashes, (which means sparse lashes).

Eyelashes are hair, just like the hairs on your head and legs. Not all hairs are created equal though; eyelashes are designed to grow a certain (short) length, then stop. The number and thickness of your lashes is determined by your genetics.

Latisse (bimatoprost opthamlic solution 0.03%) is a prescription drug made by Allergan, the makers of Botox. It’s a prostaglandin, an active biologic compound named after the prostate gland, the first place they were found. Latisse has been shown to increase the number, thickness, and darkness of lashes.

Latisse can be applied to the upper eyelashes only and should not be applied directly into the eye. It takes about eight weeks to notice results, and it can take 16 weeks to see the full effects of the drug. Unfortunately, you have to continue using Latisse to maintain the results; if you stop using it, then your eyelashes will go back to the way they were before you started treating them.

Side effects of using Latisse include disoloration of your eyelid. Fortunately this appears to be reversible; the color fades when affected people stop using it. Latisse can also cause darkening of the iris in your eye. Your eye color is genetically determined, but medications can change the color. Latisse might cause increased brown pigmentation of your iris. This side effect, unlike the darkening of your eyelid however, is permanent.

Latisse costs about $120 dollars a month and, of course, is not covered by health insurance. It is apparently already popular among the celebrity crowd: reports say Jenny McCarthy has been using it.  The question is how long will it be before someone starts applying it to their eyebrows? I could be the poster boy.

Photo: Nicholas Kenrick (flickr)