Dr. Erika Schwartz, M.D., is a leading national expert in wellness, disease prevention, and bioidentical hormone therapies. Dr. Schwartz has written four best-selling books, testified before Congress, hosted her own PBS special on bioidentical hormones, and is a frequent guest on network TV shows.

Dr. Erika Schwartz, M.D

Are There Drawbacks to Eyelash Medication?

Friday, 14 Feb 2014 03:27 PM

By Erika Schwartz, M.D

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Q: A girlfriend of mine is using the medication Latisse to thicken and lengthen her eyelashes. She looks great. It seems almost miraculous. What is this drug and is there any drawback to
using it?
— Shelly B., Tampa, Fla.
 
A: Latisse is a prescription medication created to mimic the action of a natural hormone the body produces called prostaglandin. Latisse makes the eyelashes grow longer, thicker, and darker. Unlike natural eyelashes which naturally curl up, lashes grown with Latisse are straight. Among the medication’s side effects is increased brown pigmentation of the colored part of the eye (the iris), which may become permanent. Also, the eyelid skin may become darker but this usually disappears when the medication is stopped. Eye redness, discomfort, itchiness, and dryness also may occur, although those effects are rare and usually go away as soon as you stop using the medication. Latisse does not appear to pose any danger, but you should use it with caution, follow the prescribing physician’s instructions, and do not use it for prolonged periods of time.
 
Q: Does shaving unwanted body hair make it grow back thicker?
— Cecilia T., New York, N.Y.
 
A: Scientifically speaking, there is no reason why shaved hair would grow back thicker. You occasionally may notice shaved hair growing back thicker because the area where the unwanted hair was accommodates the growth of more hair as you age. It also is a matter of hormones and genetics. If you come from a family of women who have a lot of hair, chances are you’ll find more hair in more unwanted places as you age. If you are menopausal and taking supplemental hormones that include testosterone at too high a dose, you may also see more hair. That is easily corrected by lowering the testosterone dose. The genetic issue cannot be changed and electrolysis, laser, and waxing are better bets.

Q: It seems like I see an ad for “natural breast enhancement” every day. Does any of this stuff work? Would it hurt to try?
— Emily W., Irving, Texas
 
A: Unless you have surgery, the ads you see are going to lighten your wallet, not grow your breasts. Breast augmentation and implants are very popular in many cultures, and more women than ever are having the surgery. Transplanting fat from other areas of your body and implanting it into the breasts also is occasionally being done with limited success because fat gets reabsorbed by the body. Hormones may help increase the volume of your breasts, but only as a side effect when you are taking them to eliminate hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, weight gain, mood swings, and other symptoms of menopause. Herbs or supplements being promoted to enhance breast size do not have any scientific backing.
 
Q: It seems like my eyes are always red and itchy, especially when I wake in the morning. What could be causing this?
— Ronda B., Buffalo, N.Y.
 
A: There are many possible causes. If you wear contact lenses, make sure you take them out at night unless they are specifically made to be worn overnight. Other culprits could be allergies to your bedroom, linens, laundry detergents, air conditioning or heating, and even night creams you may be applying to your face before going to sleep. Eliminate each of these possibilities one at a time to figure out what is causing you the problem.

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Erika Schwartz, M.D., is a leading national expert in wellness, disease prevention, and bioidentical hormone therapies. She is author of Dr. Erika’s Healthy Balance newsletter.
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