Things You Need To Know About Laser Procedures As A Treatment For Toenail Fungus

Toenail fungus can be embarrassing, but it's a common foot problem. Symptoms of nail fungus include thickened, brittle nails that often turn yellow, green, or dark in color. While there are several treatment options available, some podiatrists treat nail fungus with a laser. Learning more about the procedure can help you decide whether laser treatment might be an option for you.

Another Treatment Option

While doctors generally prescribe oral medications or topical antifungal drugs – and sometimes a combination of the two – to treat toenail fungus, laser treatments are another alternative. Some people think of laser treatment as a safer option, as oral medications for toenail fungus can cause side effects. Although rare, some of the side effects of oral medications – particularly the risk of liver failure – can be life threatening.

How It Works

Lasers produce intense heat that penetrates the toenail and destroys the fungus underneath the nail tissue. The number of treatments you will need depends on the severity of the fungal infection. Although some people only need a single treatment, in many cases individuals need several treatments.

If treatment is successful, the condition will improve. Sometimes a new clear nail will begin to grow, but it can take many months to more than a year for a full nail to grow out. Since the laser beam sterilizes the area being treated, you also are at decreased risk of infection following the procedure.

Treatments are painless and take only a few minutes. Podiatrists perform the procedure on an outpatient basis in their offices with no anesthesia. But even when toenail fungus is treated successfully, it isn't necessarily a permanent fix. Toenail fungus is a chronic condition that can recur; therefore, there is a chance that the fungal infection will come back. Your doctor will instruct you on preventive measures to take following laser treatment to minimize the likelihood that a fungal infection will return.

Factors to Consider

Although there have been few studies on the effectiveness of laser toenail treatment, few adverse side effects have been reported. The beam of light the laser produces is highly precise, seldom affecting the surrounding healthy skin tissue.

While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of lasers as a treatment for nail fungus, more clinical research is needed showing that laser treatment is more effective than the use of oral medications. However, the findings of a study published in the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association showed a decrease in fungal infections in 38 percent of the patients treated.

Treatments are expensive and not all podiatrists offer laser treatment, which insurance typically doesn't cover. Insurance companies generally consider it an elective aesthetic procedure. Contact a local podiatrist, like Laurel Podiatry Associates, LLC, for more information.