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  • By Patty Kovacs, Editor-at-Large, Makemeheal.com

    Since the beginning of time, a woman’s lashes have been an integral part of the feminine mystique. This past December 16, 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USDA) approved multi-specialty health company Allergan’s eyelash-growth drug, Latisse (bimatoprost ophthalmic solution), 0.03% as a novel treatment for hypotrichosis of the eyelashes, a condition that means a person does not have enough eyelashes. Early in 2009, Latisse became available for purchase through physician prescription, and demand for the product is staggering.

    Latisse, Eyelashes

    Sales are booming and lashes are looking lush. Allergan, which also makes the blockbuster BOTOX Cosmetic, estimates global peak sales could top $500 million a year. The cost of a tube of Latisse Eyelash? A mere $125 for a 30-day supply. Users say it’s worth every pretty penny.

    According to reports released, Latisse is a safe, once-daily prescription treatment. A dab from the mascara-like tube is applied to the base of the upper eyelashes with a sterile, single-use-per-eye, paint brush-like, disposable applicator. The results? Longer, thicker, darker eyelashes in just 16 weeks. Patients must continue treatment. If treatment is stopped, eyelashes gradually return to the length and condition they were prior to treatment.

    The effects of Latisse were discovered inadvertently. Doctors and patients taking Allergan drug Lumigan found a side effect to be eyelash growth, prompting Allergan to study it for aesthetic use. Turned out to be a winning decision.

    The active ingredient in Latisse is bimatroprost, the same ingredient in Allergan’s 7-yr glaucoma treatment Lumigan. Bimatoprost is a structural prostaglandin analog, a lipid compound derived from fatty acids designed to bind to prostaglandin (PG) receptors. PG receptors are present in hair, particularly in the dermal papilla and outer root sheath. Although the precise mechanism of action is unknown, PG receptors are thought to be involved in the development and regrowth of the hair follicle, by increasing the percent of hairs in, and the duration of, the anagen or growth phase.

    “Latisse fulfills a significant and previously unmet need in the medical aesthetic marketplace with a product approved by the FDA that increases the growth of eyelashes, making them longer, thicker and darker,” said Scott Whitcup, M.D., Allergan’s Executive Vice President of R&D. “As the global leader in medical aesthetics, Latisse exemplifies our continuing commitment to developing innovative treatments that are studied in well-controlled clinical trials, manufactured to pharmaceutical standards, appropriately labeled for use, and available to consumers as a prescription product.”

    Safety warnings also apply. Latisse is intended for use on the skin of the upper eyelid margins at the base of the eyelashes. It is NOT to be applied to the lower eyelid. If you are using Lumigan or other products in the same class for elevated intraocular pressure (IOP), or if you have a history of abnormal IOP, you should only use Latisse under the close supervision of a doctor.

    Allergan studies show the most common side effects after using Latisse solution are an itching sensation in the eyes and/or eye redness. This was reported in approximately 4% of patients. Latisse solution may cause other less common side effects which typically occur on the skin close to where Latisse is applied, or in the eyes. These include skin darkening, eye irritation, dryness of the eyes, and redness of the eyelids.

    According to Allergan, Latisse use may cause darkening of the eyelid skin which may be reversible. Although not reported in clinical studies, Latisse use may also cause increased brown pigmentation of the colored part of the eye (iris) which is likely to be permanent.

    It is possible for hair growth to occur in other areas of your skin that Latisse frequently touches. Any excess solution outside the upper eyelid margin should be blotted with a tissue or other absorbent material to reduce the chance of this from happening. It is also possible for a difference in eyelash length, thickness, fullness, pigmentation, number of eyelash hairs, and/or direction of eyelash growth to occur between eyes. These differences, should they occur, will usually go away if you stop using Latisse .

    If you develop a new ocular condition (e.g., trauma or infection), experience a sudden decrease in visual acuity, have ocular surgery, or develop any ocular reactions, particularly conjunctivitis and eyelid reactions, you should immediately seek your doctor.

    If you develop or experience any eye problems or have eye surgery, consult your doctor immediately about continued use of Latisse .

    That said, when I asked dermatologist Dr.Richard Glogau (www.sfderm.com) about Latisse, he replied, “To say that my patients are excited about their results from using Latisse is putting it mildly. It’s been incredible.” Glogau is a Latisse clinical study investigator and a University of California – San Francisco Professor of Dermatology.

    With further clinical studies, Latisse might just be the answer for chemotherapy patients whose lashes have been sacrificed. It’s all looking very good.

    Allergan recently collaborated with Make-A-Wish Foundation and is offering help and hope to children with catastrophic illness. In March of this year, Allergan hosted a star-studded event in Hollywood to launch Latisse Wishes, a charitable public awareness campaign designed to help make wishes come true supporting the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to granting the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.

    The campaign launched with an initial donation of $500,000 from Allergan to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Consumers are encouraged to help double this amount to $1 million by registering their support at www.latisse.com to help grant the wishes of children in their local communities. Between now and December 31, 2009, Allergan will donate $5 for each new visitor who registers online, up to an additional $500,000. And that is a beautiful thing.

    How to Order Latisse?

    A prescription and purchase of Latisse are available through your doctor or you can get Latisse here at www.makemeheal.com.

    Patty Kovacs, Make Me Heal Editor

    Patty Kovacs, Editor-At-Large at Makemeheal.com, is a published author and beauty expert. Patty is the Executive Producer/Host of The Health and Beauty Revolution Show on wsRadio. Her 800+ interviews include over 450 New York Times best-selling authors.

    See Patty’s Websites: www.pattykovacevich.com

    Patty Kovacs and Lois W. Stern are the co-founders of Coast to Coast – Eye on Beauty Newsletter. Check it out!

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    Comments

    27 Comments so far

    1. Patrice on June 3, 2009 10:12 am

      I have to say, that as a woman who only uses mascara (in the makeup dept.) I was incredibly intrigued by the news of this supposed miracle product. However, listen to the new comercials verrry carefully; the side effects are ALARMING. I just don’t think that temporary lash growth is worth risking scalding my eyeballs out. I’ll stick with L’Oreal.

    2. Jen on June 4, 2009 4:11 pm

      I recommend reading the actual study results supplied by Allergan as opposed to reading the news which is written by people with a non-scientific background. The side effect that is permanent (iris darkening) was only experienced by glaucoma patients using the eyedrop formulation of bimatoprost (Lumigan) not by cosmetic users using the Latisse formulation. The drops are instilled in the eye in eyedrop form; Latisse is only applied to the skin. Repeat – the permanent side effects did not occur with users in the cosmetic trial. This is mentioned in the patient insert; if I had time I would get it and post it here for you. Allergan is simply being extra prudent by mentioning the iris darkening. I suppose they want to cover for any potential patients that don’t read the directions and use it as an eyedrop. The other potential side effects are generally reversible. Please read the scientific literature before you jump to conclusions from information from an inaccurate source. I was made aware of this information by listening to Dr. Dean Edell, who has a medical talk show. He talked about Latisse when it first came out, and specifically mentioned what I have told you.

    3. Jen on June 5, 2009 7:33 am

      Here you go, I retrieved the actual comment that I mentioned in my post from the prescribing information for physicians on the Allergan Latisse website?

      5.2 Iris Pigmentation
      Increased iris pigmentation has occurred when the same
      formulation of bimatoprost ophthalmic solution
      (LUMIGAN®) was instilled directly onto the eye.
      Although iridal pigmentation was not reported in
      clinical studies with LATISSE™, patients should be
      advised about the potential for increased brown iris

      Also, I wanted to apologize for possibly maligning this reporter. I know nothing of this particular reporter’s scientific training. I was thinking of some of the other articles by other reporters that I have read that sound quite unscientific and have strange conclusions. This reporter and this article are not among those. Apologies.

      Also, to Patrice – I really think it’s unfair for you to call the side effects of this drug alarming. That is simply your opinion and it is based on no proof. It was possible for Allergan to fast track this drug due to it’s excellent long term safety record as a glaucoma drug. If people had lost their sight then I could understand backing away or using the word alarming. All the side effects have been cosmetic, and again the permanent one didn’t occur with the skin application of Latisse; it was eyedrop application of Lumigan.

    4. Patrice on June 8, 2009 12:53 pm

      Wow Jen, you seem to be REALLY passionate about defending and promoting this product. Is it far fetched to assume that you work for the company who makes it? My point is simly that I don’t think the short term benefits of this drug (effects DO go away once you stop using it) are worth the potential risks involved. That’s why I said that I decided to stick with mascara. To each their own.

    5. Angelica on June 29, 2009 11:49 am

      On another note, I am a consumer of all things beauty and have worked in the cosmetics industry for quite some time. I have been using Revitalash since it came out a couple years ago and have been very happy with my results. I can actually see a difference. I wanted to let other know that I have not experienced any of the side effects stated by latisse (although anything is possible) and the cost is much more reasonable. Not to mention it can be purchased through your salon/spa because it is strictly a cosmetic!!

    6. Maddy on July 27, 2009 1:37 pm

      Interesting banter, I must say! I have been researching lash-growth products for a couple of weeks now, as I’d like to try one. My Sister got Latisse and had to abandon ship after 2 weeks. She looked like she had a brown eye mask on!!! The discoloration it caused was unbelievable. I have read a lot of rave reviews about Revitalash and hear that Oprah uses it too. I just found it on-line for $90.00 which sounds like a pretty good deal. I say whatever works…

    7. alatisseuser on October 20, 2009 8:50 am

      Wow – I have been using latisse for 7 weeks with absolutely awesome results. To boot I got it at $89 per bottle!!!!!!! 5 minute online form and right to my door from a real doctors office…I would rec. ordering from these guys to anyone…you can’t beat the price or service…www.yourlatisse.com, http://www.latisse.bz

    8. nicole on January 21, 2010 3:03 pm

      We have even found that Latisse works on eyebrows

    9. Elizabeth on February 2, 2010 6:38 pm

      I used Latisse for 3 weeks. I have light olive green eyes. I now have a brown ring around each pupil, darker in the left eye and streaks of brown in the right eye. I wish I had never used the product. I stopped as soon as I saw the change. It’s awful. I followed the directions exactly.

    10. Mary Ann Foster on June 10, 2010 1:06 pm

      Elizabeth,
      If something so terrible happened to you, why on earth did
      you find the time to report it here but not to Allergan or the
      FDA? Such information would be vital to the protection of others. As of June 10, 2010, there has not been a single
      report to either agency of Latisse causing darkening of the
      iris, therefore, I doubt your story.

    11. Idol Lash on August 9, 2010 10:33 am

      get celebrity lashes!

    12. Idol Lash on August 9, 2010 10:34 am

      Get Celebrity Lashes

    13. Gerovital on October 22, 2010 11:03 pm

      You must have heard the saying you are what you eat. This manifests itself by affecting your skin by stretching, darkening and other health conditions. For a healthy looking skin, a balanced diet is a must. A diet rich in Vitamin A, anti-oxidants, and essential fatty acids is going to work wonders for your skin.

    14. janet on December 12, 2010 12:05 pm

      Attention ladies! I am an aesthetician, and since menopause, my lashes have thinned even more. Here are a couple more favorites to try, that I have tried and with paitents and time..you will see improvements. Revitalash is great, but try Lashgenesis..$45..my lashes didn’t fall out like usual, and even though no super lengths or darkening, I did have improvement. Next my new fav..Elastilash by Obagi! $53 Love it! and have seen even more improvements..longer, and thicker lashes. With both no side effects and so much more affordable,again it is I feel safer than Lattise. Remember a good diet and with taken vitamins, and exercise..you can have a healthy appearance regardless, and with use of the products I listed above..your lashes will look great. Also along with lash treatments, use a quality mascare, and conditions to will also help.
      Thank you!

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    22. Kay Akers on February 19, 2011 4:43 am

      Indeed this post makes a great source of real people with real experience on the use of eyelash solutions.. If such products were approved by FDA then perhaps they are all safe to use.. However, as consumers, it is our watch to ensure that we have gathered enough information from experts and from people who have actual experiences of the product. Although not seen in latisse clinical studies, may cause increased brown pigmentation of the colored part of the eye which is likely permanent. Eyelid skin darkening may occur which may be reversible. It is highly advised to only apply at the base of the upper eyelashes. Hair growth may occur in other skin areas that latisse solution frequently touches. If you develop or experience any eye problems or have eye surgery, consult your doctor immediately about continued use. The most common side effects after using latisse solution are itchy eyes and/or eye redness. If discontinued, lashes will gradually return to their previous appearance.

    23. snakertees on March 5, 2011 4:24 pm

      Hey um Elizabeth, are you a rep for Latisse or Lumigan or something? If not, you sure sound like it. Shame on you for admonishing the poster for sharing her story here. And how ignorant of you to assume she/he did not report their experience to Allergan. Mighty quick to draw assumptions, aren’t we?

      It’s a known FACT, and advertised in every Latisse commercial out there, that darkening of the iris can and does occur in those with lighter colored irises. You’ve clearly not been doing your research, so please get your facts straight before spouting off. FYI, I have two personal acquaintances that used Latisse and experienced iris darkening but were okay with it.

      You said:

      “Elizabeth,
      If something so terrible happened to you, why on earth did you find the time to report it here but not to Allergan or the
      FDA? Such information would be vital to the protection of others. As of June 10, 2010, there has not been a single
      report to either agency of Latisse causing darkening of the iris, therefore, I doubt your story.”

    24. Xenadrine Reviews on April 13, 2011 4:57 am

      If there’s one thing I hate about me, its my very short eye lashes. I tried mascara and false lashes but it does not cover the fact that they will not go any longer, until I come across your post. Thanks for such wonderful suggestion.

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    27. Sonia on November 20, 2011 3:52 pm

      I am on this heavy potent medication and it was making my eyelashes fall off. My mother noticed it too at the ophthalmologist’s office and suggested I ask my ophthalmologist regarding my loss of lashes. I am so glad I did ask and gave me a prescription of Latisse. I just can’t believe how my lashes have grown out and I noticed this on the 2nd week! Now I apply Latisse for maintenance 3 times a week. People compliment me on my lashes and I only use 1 coat of mascara. I highly recommend this to anyone who is having lash loss! I have not had any darkening of the iris just a slightly darker line on eyelash lid where I apply the solution and some eye itching but nothing major.

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