Laser toenail fungus treatments represent one of the quickest and least-invasive ways to treat the yellowed, crumbling nails of onychomycosis sufferers. It’s not a magical cure that will improve the look of the nail overnight. You’ll still have to wait for the old fungus nail to grow out and the fresh new nail to grow in. You will also need to sanitize your footwear, socks, towels and bed sheets to prevent re-infection and allow your feet some time to air out.
However, you may find that laser nail treatment is preferable to oral medication, which may cause liver damage, blood pressure increases, or other adverse side effects. Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions about onychomycosis laser treatment to help you make a more informed decision.
Q: How does laser toenail treatment work?
A: Lasers such as The PinPointe FootLaser can target fungus living beneath the nail, without causing damage to surrounding tissue or skin. Laser light is able to penetrate down to the nail bed where the root of the infection can be found, making it more effective than nail lacquers, creams and other topical treatments.
Q: How do I prepare for my treatment?
A: Make sure you remove all nail polish at least 24 hours before your visit. Wear comfortable pants that can be rolled up. Bring a new, clean pair of socks to change into and sanitized shoes. Arrive at your appointment at least 15 minutes early in case you need to fill out a medical history form.
Q: What is the laser toenail procedure like?
A: First you will attend an initial consultation where a health care practitioner will assess your toenails’ condition and explain the type of outcome you can expect from treatment. During the quick 10 to 30 minute procedure, you may feel a slight warming sensation or a couple pinprick type feelings, but it will not hurt. The treatment is done on a walk-in basis, so you won’t need anyone to drive you or any recovery time.
Q: How long does it take to see results?
A: Many patients report some improvement — a slight clearing or lightening of the nail — after one procedure. However, it could take six to seven months before you achieve significant improvement because you have to wait for the old fungus nail to grow out. (Don’t forget to sanitize your toenail clippers after each trim!) Clinical studies show that at least 85% of nails show improvement within six to twelve months.
Q: When can I paint my toenails or have a pedicure again?
A: You can apply nail polish right after the procedure. Beware of pedicures, as this can be a way for toenail fungus to spread if the spa does not use the appropriate disinfectant regimen.
Q: Are lasers safe for medical use?
There are several different foot lasers, but PinPointe has been in use since 2007, with no reports of adverse side effects or injuries. It has been FDA-cleared for the temporary increase of clear nails in patients with onychomycosis. The laser treatment was developed by leading scientists who had been working together for 20 years with funding from the National Institutes of Health.
Q: Are toenail fungus lasers safe for pregnant women?
A: Yes! Since Lamisil can cause liver damage and fetal effects are not fully known, it’s best to stick with alternative therapies for toenail fungus. The Central Carolina Foot & Ankle Associates assures patients that there are no health or age restrictions, and that toenail lasers are safe for pregnant women.
Q: Is there anyone who shouldn’t get laser toenail treatment?
A: You shouldn’t get laser nail treatment if you are strapped for cash or not fully committed to preventing re-infection.
Q: How much does fungal nail laser treatment cost?
A: Individual providers determine the cost of the treatment, but it’s usually between $1,000 and $1,500. Unfortunately, since the procedure is considered “aesthetic,” insurance companies do not provide coverage. Health Savings Accounts, Medical IRAs and Flexible Spending Accounts can be used to pay for the treatment, though. Cash, credit and money orders are other acceptable payment methods.