Latisse — Why It May Be An Option For You

Latisse is the trademarked brand name given to the cosmetic formulation of bimatoprost, a drug that was originally formulated for use in managing ocular hypertension and controlling glaucoma, but which was discovered also to have properties that were useful for thickening and lengthening eyelashes.

Testing confirmed that Latisse would indeed be useful in the treatment of hypotrichosis (sparse, inadequate hair or eyelash growth), and in December of 2008 it was approved by the FDA to be used in this manner.

Bimatoprost and Latisse may have additional uses in the future; case studies conducted from 2008 to 2011 have suggested that bimatoprost may also reduce fat tissue.

What Can Latisse Do For Me?

Patients using other bimatoprost-based drugs reported that their eyelashes were becoming longer, thicker, and denser. These anecdotal reports inspired the pharmaceutical giant Allergan to conduct further testing of the drug to verify that bimatoprost might actually have these properties.

Once Allergan determined that they had an eyelash-lengthening (and thickening) wonder drug on their hands, they quickly sought approval from the FDA’s Dermatologic and Ophthalmic Drugs Advisory Committee to market bimatoprost as an eyelash thickener and lengthener under the trade name Latisse.

How Latisse works

Bimatoprost, which is administered in the form of eye drops, helps relieve eye pressure and ocular hypertension by reducing intraocular pressure, which it does by increasing the flow of aqueous humor (natural fluid) out of the patient’s eyes.

Its cosmetic capabilities, however, are an unintended and unforeseen side effect. When Latisse is applied once daily to the skin at the base of the user’s eyelashes, it activates certain hormone receptors in the hair follicle, which stimulates hair growth.

When using Latisse (which is also marketed under the name Lumigan), it is important to remove contact lenses before application and to wait at least fifteen minutes before replacing them. Do NOT under any circumstances apply Latisse to your lower eyelid; use it only on the upper eyelid.

Other Uses of Latisse and Related Products

As noted above, Latisse was developed from bimatoprost, which was designed to address problems such as ocular hypertension and glaucoma.

Latisse itself, however, is strictly for cosmetic purposes, although the use of Latisse to improve eyelash growth suggests that bimatoprost may be used in the future to encourage more generalized hair growth, and that it may someday point the way toward a cure for baldness.

Bimatoprost also shows promise as a fat reduction product; patients taking bimatoprost for glaucoma were observed to experience a reduction in orbital fat (the fat in the eye socket that holds the eyeball in place and keeps its rotation smooth).

This fat reduction occurred only in one eye in patients who only used the drug in one eye, and it reversed as soon as the patients stopped using bimatoprost.

Does Latisse Have Any Side Effects?

Latisse is perfectly safe to use and has been approved by the FDA, but as with any drug, there is the potential for side effects. The most startling of these is that the color of the irises may change to a dark brown.

This was found in clinical trials to be more common in brown eyes, and in blue or green eyes that had a little brown mixed in. Latisse must be used carefully; reuse of the applicator may result in bacterial infection.

Other potential side effects include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Redness or irritation of the eyelids
  • Permanent darkening of eyelashes
  • Burning sensation (which temporarily occurs in some patients during application)
  • Unexpected hair growth if applied in an inappropriate place, such as on the cheek
  • Darkening of the eyelid, or of the area immediately below the eye
  • Lashes may grow unexpectedly long and become ingrown, causing them to scratch the cornea

These side effects aren’t too common, and they are not likely to happen to you, but if you experience any of these symptoms or problems you should discontinue using Latisse and contact a doctor immediately.

Beware of Latisse Imitations

A few years ago, an unscrupulous company marketed a similar product under the name “Age Intervention Eyelash.” Allergan sued the company for patent infringement, and the FDA seized the product, which it deemed an “unapproved … misbranded drug.” Allergan also sued another company for marketing a similar product under the name “RevitaLash.”

Questions to Ask Your Doctor about Latisse

  • Do you recommend Latisse as a solution to my problem with thin, sparse eyelashes?
  • If I want to try Latisse, can I buy it over the counter, or do I need you to write me a prescription for it?
  • Is Latisse safe for me to use?
  • Is there any danger that I might be allergic to Latisse?
  • Is there a chance that my eyes will change color from using Latisse?
  • Is Latisse expensive?
  • If I stop using Latisse, will my eyelashes return to their former state?
  • Can I use Latisse to treat my glaucoma or ocular hypertension?

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This article was last updated on 09/2017