PinPointe FootLaser for Toenail Fungus: Top 5 Things You Need To Know
Posted by Jenn F. on Monday, April 22nd, 2013
Toenail fungus is not life-threatening, but this unsightly infection of the nail affects about 10 percent of the U.S. population, according to Boni E. Elewski, a researcher at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. “The disease can have certain negative consequences for patients, such as pain, and can potentially undermine work and social lives,” she wrote in an issue of the journal Clinical Microbial Review. While this may not sound like a huge number, it is when you consider that up to 90 percent of elderly Americans have what is called onychomycosis. Traditionally, the only treatment options were to remove the affected nails or treat with risky oral antifungal medication and wait for the nail to grow out. (Even though Americans shell out loads of cash on topical antifungal medications, these are considered ineffective.) Here’s what you need to know about PinPointe FootLaser for fungal nail treatment.
1. The PinPointe FootLaser has been in use since 2007.
The Pinpointe FootLaser was developed by scientists and medical professionals over a 20-year period, with funding provided by the National Institutes of Health. Clinical studies began in November 2007 and the device received F.D.A. clearance in October of 2010 to be used as an effective treatment for fungal nails. Since then, over 3,800 patients have been successfully treated.
2. It’s quick and painless.
People generally like that they can just come right in to their regular podiatrist’s office and have the procedure done quickly by appointment, rather than waiting at a hospital or unfamiliar clinic. Any subsequent treatment is done by your own podiatrist, so you can maintain the same standard of care you have been receiving.
The PinPointe FootLaser works by using a laser light to penetrate the nail and kill the fungus, without injuring the surrounding skin. Over a period of several weeks, you should notice the nail begin to clear. However, the nail will only be fully healed once the fungus nail completely grows out. Best of all, the treatment is done in just 30 minutes as a walk in/ walk out procedure — and it’s completely painless! Some people report “warmth” and a couple individuals have reported a “slight pinprick sensation,” but most people feel nothing at all.
3. Side effects are extremely rare.
Compared to oral medication for toenail fungus, the PinPointe FootLaser is a dream come true. The Mayo Clinic says that, while Lamisil and Sporanax are considered the “most effective” oral medications for treating toenail fungus, these drugs “may cause side effects ranging from skin rashes to liver damage.” For this reason, many people do not want to take an oral antifungal at all. Patient Joanne Grant told NBC Channel 10 News that she “didn’t want to take medication.” She added, “I didn’t want to have my liver checked.” By comparison, the PinPointe FootLaser has no regularly reported side effects. The Village Podiatry Centers in Atlanta report that “rare side effects” may include: nail discoloration, mild pain (during treatment), redness around the nail (lasting 24-72 hours), and slight swelling (lasting 24-72 hours).
4. Your insurance company won’t pay for it, but there are options.
Insurance companies consider nail fungus to be a “cosmetic procedure,” so they do not cover the cost. We understand that it’s so much more than that. No one wants to have fungus living on their feet! Even though your insurance won’t pay for PinPointe FootLaser therapy, you can still use your HSA, Medical IRA, or Flexible Spending Account.
5. Foot fungus can grow back, even after laser treatment.
While clinical studies conducted by NuvoLase found that more than 71.4% of patients experience sustained improvement after a single treatment, it is always possible for the fungus to grow back if you are not careful. Fungus is everywhere in our environment, so if you walk around barefoot on an affected surface, you are putting yourself at risk of re-infection. Furthermore, it’s important to keep your feet cool and dry to discourage fungal proliferation. So, if you are going to make the investment to have healthy, attractive feet, then you will need to commit to preventative measures too.
If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. Geldwert, Dr. 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.