Latisse® is a popular treatment that is FDA approved to help users grow longer, darker, and thicker eyelashes. The treatment started off as a medicine for glaucoma when researchers noticed that their participants were also growing longer, more luxurious eyelashes during the testing process.
One doctor in Florida is now taking Latisse® from eyelash enhancer to hair restoration treatment. When one of his patients demonstrated an allergic reaction to the typical hair restoration medication Rogaine®, he suggested she use Latisse® to regrow thinning hair instead. Using a drop or two a day of Latisse® on the affected area along with a new daily vitamin regimen, the patient saw a reduction in the thinning of her hair in about four months.
However, there are definite disadvantages to using Latisse® for hair restoration including the high cost for an unproven treatment. While this one patient has benefited from the treatment, most scarring alopecias and those caused by immune problems most likely will not be improved.
Latisse® is not FDA approved for hair restoration on the scalp which means it hasn’t been tested in that area and any risks or potential long-term side effects haven’t been fully investigated. FDA approval for a new use of an already approved drug may take many years and cost millions. By the time it gets back to the patient, the price will surely be increased. For years this drug has been used in the eyes with a high degree of safety and no long term problems noted. On the skin some patients note a darkening and slight irritation when it is used on the upper eyelids.
When Latisse® is used to increase eyelash thickness and length, full results are often not seen until 16 weeks. It would not really stop the progression of hair loss for androgenetic alopecia patients, but possibly just lengthen and thicken the hairs like it does for the eyelids. Similarly, when used for eyelashes, results will gradually disappear if the treatment is stopped. The same can be assumed for the unapproved use of Latisse® as a hair restoration treatment. Once daily application is discontinued, the hair should eventually recede again leaving the user with the same thinning hair situation he or she started with.
Along the same lines, in order to maintain eyelashes grown by Latisse®, users must maintain a constant supply. While those using Latisse® for its FDA approved use for eyelashes may only need one bottle a month, those using it for hair restoration will need a much larger quantity given the size of the treatment area (3 or more of the 2-ounce bottles). With each prescription bottle of Latisse® costing an average of $100 to $150 a bottle, patients could easily spend upwards of $450 a month for as long as they want their hair restoration results to last. It seems like a high cost considering Latisse® does not promise to stop the progression of patterned baldness.
Currently FDA approved, topical and oral treatments like Rogaine®, Propecia®, and Proscar® are available to help slow and even stop hair loss; growing some hair back is also a possibility with some of these products. These products stop the progression of loss in over 80% of all patients who take/use them daily. If Latisse® does work, it would be applied in addition to the preventers of progression like Propecia®. Follicular unit hair transplant is a surgical procedure that produces permanent hair restoration results from hair loss as a result of hormones, trauma, androgenetic alopecia, and more. It’s important to remember that while off-label uses of products like Latisse® and Botox® do have potential, they also have potential for unexplored side effects until further studied.
For more information on the current list of FDA approved non-surgical and surgical hair restoration options, contact our office. We’re also on Facebook and Twitter with the latest news and update in hair restoration and research.