Who are patient candidates?
Patients whose toenails appear yellow, brittle or thickened, may be suffering from Onychomycosis, or nail fungus. This is an extremely common problem, shared by up to 10% of the US population. For patients over the age of 40, the number rises to 25% in that age group; and for those who are over 60, sufferers from toe nail fungus can be as high as an estimated 50%! Up until very recently, treating toe nail fungus has been challenging due to the hardy nature of the fungus that resides under the nail. Topical medications or lacquers are largely ineffective and designed to mostly prevent the spread or worsening of the condition. Oral medications are estimated to be about 50% successful, but those drugs are not tolerated well by many patients and risk of liver damage is an overriding concern. The latest and most effective treatment for the removal of toe nail fungus is laser therapy. Within this category, the passive Q-Switched technology of the Q-Clear laser has produced the most promising and successful results and is the only Q-Switched Nd:YAG device specifically FDA-approved for the treatment of toe nail fungus.
How Does It Work?
The Q-Switched Nd:YAG Q-Clear Laser uses short burst of laser energy to target the fungus beneath the nail and destroy it. Unlike other lasers which heat both the nail bed and fungus, the Q-Clear Laser’s nanosecond pulses selectively heat the fungus versus the nail bed. This targeted energy uses cavitation instead of heat resulting in a dramatic increase in efficacy as well as patient comfort. Depending upon the severity and advancement of the nail fungus, one simple, quick treatment is typically all that is necessary to kill the fungus.
The physician will move the laser hand piece over the affected area in quick, short passes. Unlike some other lasers, there is very little sensation to the patient beyond some very mild warmth. A treatment usually lasts only a few minutes and the patient experiences absolutely no down-time after the procedure.
How Quickly Will Patients See Results?
After a single treatment with the Q-Clear Laser System, all of the nail fungus should be destroyed. Visual improvement, however, is not immediate but rather requires the patient’s toe nail to grow out. Depending on how quickly this occurs, clear, new nail will appear starting at the bottom of the nail in a matter of only a few weeks. It could take, however, six months or longer for the old, diseased nail to completely grow out and be replaced by new, clear nail.
How Effective Are Treatments?
The Q-Clear Laser System has arguably the most comprehensive and resoundingly positive clinical results of any treatment EVER used for nail fungus. In a controlled medical setting using a single practitioner, 100 patients were treated with varying degrees of onychomycosis. From this group, patient satisfaction was measured at 100% with the eventual appearance of significant to complete clear nail measured in 97% of cases. Only the most advanced cases of toe nail fungus did not report significant to complete clearance in a single treatment, and in those rare cases a simple follow-up treatment will usually produce the desired result.
Does It Hurt?
Besides its effectiveness, the Q-Clear distinguishes itself from other lasers primarily in the degree of patient comfort. Other lasers use the principle of heat in targeting the nail bed AND the pathogen in an attempt to destroy the nail fungus, which in turn can translate into significant patient intolerance of those treatments. Conversely, the shorter bursts of Q-switched laser energy employed by the Q-Clear laser selectively target the fungus only, imparting only minimal heat detected by the patient. In short, treatments are highly tolerable and do not hurt.
How Much Will a Treatment Cost?
The Q-Clear laser represents the pinnacle of nail fungus treatment so cost may be considered relative. Patients can spend several hundreds of dollars in oral or topical medications and not achieve anywhere near the degree of success as that of the Q-Clear Laser System.
Each practitioner is responsible for establishing their own pricing schedule and laser treatments for nail fungus is not covered by insurance. Cost will depend on the physician, your geographical location, but most importantly by the degree of nail fungus that you need treated. Keeping in mind only a single treatment is typically necessary, a fee of a few hundred dollars to several hundred dollars may be appropriate. For those who have successfully undergone treatments, they believe the service is worth every penny to restore beautiful nails.
Are there any Associated Risks?
Although the Q-Clear Laser System has recently been FDA-approved as the only Q-switched laser to treat nail fungus, it is hardly a new technology. It has actually been used and FDA-approved for other medical applications primarily in Dermatology since 2005 and it is estimated that given its broad scope of application, it has been safely used in over one million treatments since that time. There are no perceived risks to a patient seeking treatment for toe nail fungus using the Q-Clear Laser System.