What is Latisse?

Latisse is a topical solution that will thicken and lengthen the eyelashes. The active ingredient in Latisse is bimatoprost. It is now used for cosmetic purposes, though this was an unintended side effect found during testing that has since proven useful. The medication was originally designed to treat and prevent serious ocular conditions.

The Physiology of Eyelashes

As a 2010 study notes, eyelashes are thick, long, fully-matured terminal hairs. Their physical properties, when compared to the average scalp hair, are remarkably similar, except for a few major differences:

  • Eyelashes are thicker in diameter than scalp hairs.
  • Eyelashes do not usually become grey.
  • Eyelashes do not have an arrector pili muscle. This muscle is what allows the hairs to stick up from the follicle. The lack of an arrector pili muscle is why the eyelashes curve downwards instead of sticking straight out.

Latisse and Hair Restoration

Scalp hairs, being structurally similar to eyelashes, are also rejuvenated by the effects of Latisse. A 2013 study classifies Latisse as a “low-risk” method for treating scalp alopecia. As such, Latisse can be prescribed to combat hair loss.

How does Latisse Work?

Like minoxidil, the exact working mechanisms are not yet fully understood. However, even though the exact methods are unknown, there is still some theoretical evidence to help researchers better understand. Latisse is a prostaglandin analogue. Prostaglandins are fatty compounds that have many different biological functions throughout the body, including hormone regulation and cell growth. These compounds fit into prostaglandin receptors in order to complete their assigned tasks.

Latisse is a type of synthetic molecule that binds to prostaglandin receptors and mimics their function. It is, in essence, able to control and regulate the same biological tasks as organic prostaglandins. Somehow, this topical solution is able to stimulate the scalp tissue into reconstructing the hair follicle. Further research is needed to determine exactly how.

How is Latisse Applied?

This medication comes in the form of eye drops that are taken with a special applicator. The user must be careful to blot any excess eye drops off of the skin to prevent unwanted hair growth on the cheeks. Furthermore, the user must not apply the medication to the lower eyelid, only the top. This minimizes the chances of a potential purplish darkening of the eyelid itself.

Is Latisse for Everyone?

No, you may not want to take this medication if you have any of the following conditions (be sure to ask your doctor):

  • Pregnancy or breastfeeding
  • Previous eye complications, including injuries
  • Previous, or future, eye surgeries

What are the Side Effects of Latisse?

Some, but not all, of the potential side effects include:

  • A darkening of the eyelids
  • A change in iris color (may take months or years to form)
  • Dry eye
  • Headache
  • A sensitivity to light in general
  • Reddish eyes
  • Eyes that itch
  • Swollen or puffy eyes or skin
  • Visual changes
  • Hypertrichosis of the skin (mainly due to misapplication)
  • Infections – this occurs when the user does not keep the applicator sterile.
  • Keratitis – scar tissue in the eye, in this case bacterial. As with infections, this complication is due to the applicator coming into contact with a contaminated surface.

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