If you have toenail fungus, you may have seen advertisements for laser treatment of this nail infection. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation and confusing claims being made about these treatments. This article should help you determine if it is worth it for you to consider laser treatment of your fungal toenails.
There are currently two companies competing in the market of lasers for treatment of fungal toenails. The first company – Patholase – already has their Pinpointe laser on the market . The second company Nomir Medical Technologies should have their unit on the market within a few months.
Dr. Larry Huppin and Dr. Doug Hale at the Foot and Ankle Center of Washington in Seattle have been keeping a close eye on this technology. This article is designed to help you determine whether you should consider laser therapy and, if so, which one to choose.
Although the Pinpointe laser came to market first, we are very skeptical of the claims they make of being able to cure fungus in toenails. We have not seen any good data that supports the claims that this unit can cure fungal toenails. In addition, this laser has not been approved by the FDA for treatment of fungal nails (onychomycosis) in the United States. Finally, the Pinpointe laser uses high energy UV radiation (heat). This means that a potential complication of this treatment would be burns to surrounding tissue. Due to the lack of data showing it’s effectiveness and the high cost associated with treatment, we are advising our patients to avoid this treatment for now.
We are much more impressed with the Neovon laser by Nomir Medical Technologies, although we cannot make a strong recommendation until more data is available. Unlike Patholase, Nomir is waiting for FDA approval before bringing their laser to the market. We are also more impressed with the studies that have so far been released. Based on the data released so far, the Neovon laser appears to be more effective.
The Neovon laser technology is also more impressive. The Noveon uses two wavelengths of low energy near infrared beams that eradicate the fungus in the toenail by using light rather than heat as with the Pinpointe laser. This prevents damage to the surrounding tissue. Dr. Huppin feels that this allows for more effective treatment of nail fungus with better outcomes and less chance of complication. Light energy is used to kill the nail fungus without creating damaging heat. The surrounding skin and tissue is left uninjured due to the unique controlled technology used by the Noveon laser.
If you do have toenail fungus, we recommend delaying laser treatment until the Neovon laser is available. Both laser treatments are likely going to cost you about the same – probably between $750 and $1200, depending on the number of nails to be treated. We feel the Neovon is the superior treatment and are advising our patients to wait until that therapy is available. The procedure causes no pain. Most patients will undergo three treatment sessions with each one lasting about 20 minutes or less. For more information you can sign up on the Foot and Ankle Center of Washington website for monthly updates on laser technology for treatment of toenail fungus.