Dr. Gary Evans was featured using the PinPointe FootLaser on Good Morning America (ABC News), April 9, 2009. The segment was called “Cutting Edge Nail Cure: Putting Your Best Foot Forward.”
Robin Roberts: Big news this morning for tens of millions of you out there right now. The days of hiding your feet because of unsightly toenail infections could be over. About half of all Americans over the age of 50 are struggling with this problem, and now thanks to a brand new high-tech treatment, their struggle could be over. When it comes to putting our best foot forward, Americans go all out.
[Excerpt from Legally Blonde] Serena: What’s the one thing that always makes us feel better, no matter what?
Roberts: We buff our toes like the ladies of Legally Blonde. Or we have a loved one paint them, like this scene from Bull Durham.
[Excerpt from Bull Durham]
Roberts: But what happens when there’s a fungus among us? Just ask Megan Rafferty.
Rafferty: It’s discolored, it’s yellow, it’s thick, it’s crooked, it just looks dead.
Roberts: Megan, like millions of Americans, has had her toe fungus for fifteen years.
It’s unsightly, embarrassing, and like others, she’s suffered in silence, not wanting to talk about it. And it’s easy to catch. It thrives in wet environments like nail salons and locker rooms, and people will do just about anything to hide it.
Rafferty: In yoga, I would be embarrassed. I’d go to the nail salon, and just like they put tips on your fingernails, I would get tips on my toenails.
Roberts: Once the fungus gets under your nail it is difficult to treat. Topical solutions are only about 8% effective, and the only other option available has been a popular pill that we all know from this commercial.
[Excerpt from Lamisil commercial] Fungus: All I want is to get in here and live under your nail.
Roberts: But it’s three months of pills, side effects need to be closely monitored with blood tests, and then 10 to 12 months for the nail to regrow.
Dr. Evans: Megan.
Megan: Hey, Dr. Evans.
Dr. Evans: How are you?
Megan: Good. Nice seeing you.
Roberts: Now there is new hope for toenail fungus, done in just one doctor visit, in 30 minutes. Straight out of a science fiction film, it’s a laser.
Dr. Evans: The laser beam travels through the nail to the level of the nail fungus, and kills the fungus instantly.
Roberts: Podiatrist Gary Evans has been using the laser for just a few months. He says it’s exciting because it’s painless and side effect free.
Rafferty: I don’t feel anything.
Dr. Evans: We have to go in certain patterns to make sure we get every little millimeter of the nail plate.
Roberts: It takes less than a half hour, moving a laser over the nail. While results are not immediate, in most cases the toenail will grow out normally in 9 to 12 months. Just look at these before and after pictures. Here’s the toe before, and then a few months after treatment, you can see the new nail growing in here. The maker of the laser says it’s 88% effective. That’s better than anything else already on the market. Still, it’s important to note that while early clinical tests have been successful, the laser is not yet cleared by the FDA for toenail fungus. Though many podiatrists have already started using the technology. But if you want fungus-free feet, you’d better be ready to pay. Right now, the treatment costs $1200 and is not covered by your insurance. Still, Megan looks forward to the day she can show off her toes and wear open-toe shoes.
Rafferty: I’m just really excited to see what the results are.
Roberts: I know she is. Joining us now is Dermatologist Dr. Jeanine Downie, because as a dermatologist you cover skin, hair and nails. How are you?
Dr. Downie: Fine, thanks.
Roberts: We see something like this, and there’s so many people affected by it. And they’ve tried gels and other things, and taking medications, and covering up, and that’s pretty dangerous to do.
Dr. Downie: Toenail fungus affects roughly 50% of people over the age of forty, which is just nuts.
Dr. Downie: People are embarrassed, this is humiliating. They dig their feet in the sand
they don’t want to show their toes, they’re not sure what they have. They should get a culture and try to figure it out. So the topical nail lacquers, 8% cure rate. Not really great with the creams. Oral medications, you’ve got to check your blood at least three or four times, only a 50% cure rate. This pinpoint foot laser system, this could be huge with the 88% cure rate.
Roberts: What are other advantages of the laser treatment?
Dr. Downie: It’s not painful, you don’t have to do blood tests, and your liver is not at risk I’m not saying with the oral medications that your liver is always at risk. But you have to get blood tests and you have to check it. So the downside is your pocketbook with this laser.
Roberts: I know, because a lot of people in the studio, they were very excited, and then they heard the price tag.
Dr. Downie: It’s $120 per nail.
Roberts: Now, I like my feet and all that, but that’s going… But if you can afford something like that, what would you recommend?
Dr. Downie: I tell people that this is something I know that is upsetting and embarrassing and humiliating. It’s something people don’t discuss that much. So I say that this is a new technology. I was just at the AAD meeting last month. They just introduced this. Long-term studies need to be done. Studies have only been done since 2007, it was FDA cleared in 2008. And I want to make it clear that this is an off-label use right now.
Roberts: Off-label use right now. Still has some more testing to go through before…?
Dr. Downie: Before the FDA clears it for this. But as an off-label use, for example, we started using Botox in ’94, and it wasn’t FDA approved until 2003. It was still fine.
Roberts: Again, real quick, because it is sandal season coming up. What would you recommend folks do?
Dr. Downie: I tell people to get a nail culture, see if they actually have a fungus, treat it, and then keep their environment fungus-free. Clean your shower stall, be careful when you’re getting pedicures, that they’re cleaning the instruments. And make sure that if you have some little sneakers you’ve been wearing since 1919, maybe throw them away.
Roberts: You got it. Nina, as always, thank you. Thank you so much.
Dr. Downie: You’re very welcome.
Roberts: You can find more on this new treatment and other remedies on our website at abcnews.com.