The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Does PinPointe Laser Work To Cure Toenail Fungus?

Posted by on Monday, April 29th, 2013

This past November, manufacturers of the PinPointe FootLaser celebrated a big milestone as the 100,000th procedure was performed. While there are several competitors on the market now, PinPointe was the very first light-based device given FDA clearance to treat the appearance of onychomycosis nail fungus. This nail fungus solution was presented as a safer, more effective alternative to oral medications.

The cost of treatment ranges from $600 to $1,000 — which is deemed a “cosmetic procedure” that is not covered by insurance; so the decision to seek laser therapy is one to seriously consider. You’re probably wondering, “Does the PinPointe FootLaser work to cure toenail fungus for good?” We have the answer for you, here at the Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine.

How Do Lasers Work To Eliminate Toenail Fungus?

 

“The laser creates a thermal effect,” says Steve Duddy, president and CEO of NuvoLase, Inc., the manufacturers of PinPointe FootLaser. “Temperatures are raised to levels high enough to impact the growth of the fungus without causing discomfort to the patient,” he tells Nails Magazine. During the 30 minute treatment, patients may sense a little bit of warmth, but that’s about it. The laser is able to penetrate the nail plate to essentially cook the fungi to death. Patients can keep their toenails, simply waiting for the fungus nail to grow out  — as with most other treatments. A full recovery generally takes anywhere from four to six months, up to a year.

How Well Does the PinPointe FootLaser Work?

Clinical trials of the PinPointe FootLaser have been very encouraging. A multi-site retrospective study of 265 patients conducted by five private parties in the UK and United States reported “continuous improvement” for 71.8 percent of participants.

The success of one’s treatment depends upon the severity of the infection. “With mild-moderate cases, patients have an excellent chance of success,” explains Michael Bilinsky, D.P.M. of Beverly Hills, California. “With severe cases, clients have seen dramatic improvement, but when they expect to end up with a normal nail, they can be disappointed.”

Here at our NYC podiatrist’s office, we prefer to under-promise and over-deliver. We let patients know that success rates depend on a myriad of factors, including:

  • Genetics
  • Age
  • Health
  • Footwear
  • Hygiene, and
  • Adherence to a post-treatment plan.

Follow-up care is very important, as re-infection rates are high. “The life-cycle of fungus includes a dormant stage,” says Daniel Waldman, D.P.M. of North Carolina. He adds, “Many doctors schedule a follow-up visit not only to monitor the growth of the fungus, but also to make sure patients are performing home care.”

This home care may include a change in footwear, the use of topical treatments, disinfecting one’s shoes, and maintaining dry feet.

Are There Any Drawbacks To Laser Treatment For Fungal Nails?

Topical medications are generally considered to be ineffective for fungal nail treatment, as they cannot penetrate deep into the nail bed where infections lie. Oral medications are more effective, but side effects run the gamut from headaches to gastrointestinal upset — and require liver enzyme tests to be sure the internal organs are not overtaxed by the treatment. So, from that standpoint, the PinPointe laser (with its zero side effects) appears to be the obvious choice for treatment.

Keep in mind that there is no true way to “cure toenail fungus fast.” Laser treatment for fungal nails is not a cure, but it can temporarily improve the appearance of thickened, yellow toenails over time. We feel that laser foot fungus removal can be incredibly advantageous, but patients must be willing to comply with our recommendations for remaining fungus-free down the road.

“Just as in laser-whitening treatment of fading teeth, with laser nail treatment the fungus can come back over time,” according to Ben Pearl, DPM. He adds, “It is also important to disinfect the areas in which the fungal spores reside, so the nail does not get reinfected. There are now ultraviolet lights to do this, which are safer than many disinfectant chemical sprays.”

If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.