Why Laser Is the BEST Option for Your Fungal Toenails

by | Aug 9, 2018

As professionals who work hard to stay up-to-date with the latest treatment technologies, we’re very aware that the field of medicine is always evolving and improving. We’re always looking for that edge to make things at least a little bit better, a little bit faster, a little bit easier for our patients.

And we get really excited whenever a new treatment comes along that totally blows the old methods out of the water! That’s exactly what happened a few years back when laser treatment emerged as an option for fungal toenails, and why we’re so glad to be able to offer it to our patients!

laser for fungal nails

But in order to explain how great it is as a treatment option, you need to understand why older treatments were so underwhelming. Let’s start there, first.

The Stone Age of Fungal Nail Treatment

The truth is that before laser treatment became an option, none of the alternatives for eradicating fungal toenails were all that great—or at least not consistently so across the board, for everybody. They did eventually work for most people, of course, but there were some pretty significant drawbacks.

You see, even though fungal toenail infections are caused by the same exact micro-organisms as athlete’s foot, they have historically been much more resistant to treatment.

From the perspective of the fungi, the nail is both a near-impervious suit of armor and an eternal all-you-can-eat buffet rolled into one. They’ll never run out of keratin to feed from, and they’re well protected against topical antifungal creams and sprays.

If you wanted to get rid of them, that left you with, broadly speaking, two less-than-ideal options.

Option 1: Oral antifungal medications.

This was the “best” treatment option before laser came along, and it’s still the primary treatment method used by a majority of podiatry practices nationwide. You take a prescription antifungal pill daily for a set period of time—usually 6 to 12 weeks or so.

Simple, right? For some people, yes. For others, not so much.

  • Effectiveness is somewhat spotty. Long-term cure rates hovered in the 60-80 percent range depending on the type of drug used, the age and health of the patient, and just plain luck. That’s not awful, but it obviously left a lot to be desired. Success rates also drop for people over 65—which just so happens to be the demographic most likely to suffer from fungal nails in the first place.
  • Side effects are common. Some of those side effects can be nasty, too, including uncomfortable skin rashes and even liver damage. Oral medications are generally not recommended for those with liver disease, congestive heart failure, or alongside various other conditions or medications.

Option 2: Use topicals anyway and hope for the best.

This sidesteps the problem of side effects for people with weakened livers or other complications that would make oral antifungals not worth the risk.

But in order for topicals to really have any chance to be effective, you need to thin your thickened fungal nail on a weekly basis (at minimum), and apply the topical medications every single day. Even then, it can take up to a year or more to work, if it works at all. Long-term cure rates are a coin flip at best.

The Golden Era: Laser Treatment for Fungal Nails

So what makes laser treatment so much better?

Just about everything, that’s what.

  • No medications required. You won’t have to take any pills or apply any chemicals to your nails or feet. You won’t even need anesthesia for the laser—you won’t feel a thing.
  • No side effects. The laser is so precisely tuned that the light energy can pass right through the toenail, attack the fungus and only the fungus, all without doing any collateral damage to healthy tissue. No pain, no risk of side effects, no problems.
  • No annoying daily routines. One laser treatment session at our office can last as little as 15 minutes or less, depending on how many toes need treatment. A full treatment course, for most people, requires only three of these sessions spaced out over a 5-month period. That’s a lot better and more convenient than taking a pill every day.
  • Higher success rates. In addition to being easier and safer, laser treatment also just plain works better. We’ve noticed much higher cure rates and patient satisfaction when compared to “stone age” treatment options.

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best option for fungal nails

“Pulse Treatment”: Mixing the Old with the New

Of course, one other great thing about laser treatment is that it’s not mutually exclusive with any other treatment.

We know, we know, we’ve just been talking about how oral antifungals, on their own, don’t compare favorably to laser treatment. And that’s still true.

But incorporating laser treatment may allow you to combine the treatment methods to get even better results.

For example, we sometimes recommend “pulse dosing” antifungal pills alongside your laser treatment course. Instead of taking pills every day, you might take them for one week, then take three weeks off. Because you aren’t taking the pills every day for 90 days straight, your risk of side effects is significantly lower.

Taking antifungal pills one week out of four wouldn’t be enough to take out a fungal nail infection on its own, of course. But with laser treatment picking up the slack, it can “open up another front” in the battle against the fungi, attacking from the inside after they’ve already been weakened from the outside by laser treatments.

We Make It Easy

So now you know it’s out there, why it’s your best option for fungal nails, and where you can get it—right here in Lee’s Summit, MO.

And we make it easy, with quick consultations and no-fuss scheduling.

Cost is, of course, a concern for many of our patients, which is why we work hard to make sure laser treatment is an affordable option—even if your insurance might not cover it. Including the initial consult and all subsequent appointments, total treatment costs are $500 or less for most patients ($150 per session), although it depends on the number of sessions that are required.

So if you want an affordable, effective, safe, and convenient solution for your fungal toenails, give us a call and book that initial consult. You can reach us at (816) 246-4222.

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