Is there a medication to thicken eyelashes?
Answer From Alaina L. Softing Hataye, O.D.
Yes. The medication bimatoprost — marketed under the brand name Latisse — is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat inadequate eyelashes (hypotrichosis). Bimatoprost is also marketed under the brand name Lumigan, which is used in prescription eyedrops to treat glaucoma. Eyelash growth was an unexpected side effect of Lumigan, which led to the creation and marketing of Latisse.
With regular applications along the lash line of the upper eyelid, Latisse gradually encourages growth of longer, thicker and darker eyelashes. Latisse isn't meant to be applied to the lower eyelid. For full results, you must use the medication daily for at least two months. Eyelash improvements remain as long as you continue to use the medication. When you stop using Latisse, your eyelashes will eventually return to their original appearance.
Potential side effects of Latisse include:
- Redness of the thin tissue over the white part of the eye (conjunctiva)
- Itchy, red eyes
- Dry eyes
- Darkened eyelids
- Darkened brown pigmentation in the colored part of the eye (iris)
- Hair growth around the eyes if the medication regularly runs or drips off the eyelids
Although darkened eyelids might fade when the medication is stopped, any changes in iris color are likely to be permanent.
The results of studies of people who used Latisse for eyelash loss due to a medical condition that causes hair loss (alopecia areata) were mixed. Studies of people who have eyelash loss due to chemotherapy were more promising. Further studies are needed.
If you're concerned about the appearance of your eyelashes, talk to your doctor. He or she can help you weigh the pros and cons of using an eyelash-growing medication.
April 05, 2018
Alaina L. Softing Hataye, O.D.
See more Expert Answers
- Latisse (prescribing information). Irvine, Calif.: Allergan, Inc.; 2017. http://www.latisse.com/. Accessed March 8, 2018.
- Latisse: Real questions, real answers. Latisse. http://www.latisse.com/FAQs.aspx. Accessed March 8, 2018.
- Messenger AG. Management of alopecia areata. https://uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed March 8, 2018.
- Spano F, et al. Alopecia areata, Part 2: Treatment. Canadian Family Physician. 2015;61:757.
- Glaser DA, et al. Long-term safety and efficacy of bimatoprost solution 0.03% application to the eyelid margin for the treatment of idiopathic and chemotherapy-induced eyelash hypotrichosis: A randomized controlled study. British Journal of Dermatology. 2015;172:1384.
- Bochert M, et al. An evaluation of the safety and efficacy of bimatoprost for eyelash growth in pediatric subjects. Clinical Ophthalmology. 2016;10:419.