Medication To Grow Eyelashes

Stephanie Stahl reporting

Aired January 12, 2009 on CBS 3 (KYW-TV) Philadelphia

The first FDA approved medication to grow eyelashes is about to hit the market. Ladies are lining up for this one – it’s expected to be as popular as Botox.

“I have different colors,” said Kay Magee.

Kay Magee has all sorts of mascara. Like most women, she wants her eyelashes to look long and full, but she doesn’t have to pile on the make up anymore.

“I was like boom, look at my eyelashes,” Kay explained.

Her new luscious lashes came from an unlikely place; eye drops used to treat the eye disease glaucoma have the side effect of growing eyelashes. “It’s not unusual to have unexpected side effects of medications,” said Nancy Swartz.

Nancy Swartz, an ophthalmic plastic surgeon in Bala Cynwyd, says she and many others have been prescribing the glaucoma medication to people who don’t have the disease with the only affect being growing lashes.

“It’s fun to have something safe that really does make your eyelashes grow,” said Dr. Swartz.

The glaucoma medicine, Lumigan, is being renamed and repackaged as Latisse, to specifically grow eyelashes. Lumigan and Latisse are the same medication. That active ingredient is something called bimatoprost. Used for glaucoma, it’s dropped into the eye to lower pressure. For lashes, the drops are dabbed on the top of lashes like eyeliner. In order to get FDA approval, Latisse had to be specifically tested to prove it safely grows lashes.

“It’s really great it really helped a lot,” said Kay.

Kay does commercial work and saw results quickly, but it can take 8 weeks.

“It’s safe and it works and its not make up its real, it’s your actual hair coming out of your eyelids,” Kay told us.

Dr. Swartz says it works anywhere there are hair follicles, but at this point it’s not being tested for the head.

Latisse can cause some minor side effects like itching, and redness.

It will be available with a prescription sometime in the next 6 weeks, costing $120.

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