I recently completed an 8 month course of the infamous drug, Accutane. In my mid 20’s, it was like a switch flipped in my body. My metabolism stopped dead, and I developed severe cystic acne. Thanks, hormones! I had never really broken out. While my friends struggled through our teen years, I used some Neutrogena on the occasional zit and got through, but my luck ran out as an adult. I went to a dermatologist pretty early on, hoping to get a handle on it quickly. I went through years of trying different treatments including topical retinol-based products (made me very itchy), oral antibiotics (didn’t work after several courses), spironolactone (supposed to decrease testosterone and balance hormones. It didn’t work for me, and I experienced side-effects), and finally several courses of chemical peels and laser treatments. I would see short periods of time, up to a year, where my face would improve and be manageable, but then it would come back with a vengeance. After trying literally everything else, I finally gave in to my derm’s pleas to try Accutane. I had heard so much negative hype that I was kind of afraid of the side effects, but I couldn’t take it any more. My only regret is not having done it sooner.
I should preface this by saying I’m not a medical professional, nor is my experience guaranteed to be the same as yours. With that said, I do recommend it. Now, it was definitely a pain in the butt. I had to get lots of blood work, and practically sign my life away before I started. Due to the side effects, mainly the risk of very severe birth defects if you take it while you’re pregnant, they are very careful to monitor you throughout the process. Although it was annoying and time-consuming, it gave me comfort to know that they were keeping a close watch. Some people experience elevated triglyceride levels so they watch for that, as well as liver function and other basic things. The most common side effect is dryness, and when I say dry, I don’t mean you need to use a thicker moisturizer in the winter dry. I mean cracked, bloody nose, scaly rough patches, eczema-like rashes, hair breakage, very chapped lips. Now, I’m normally a dry skin type, so I’m used to dealing with this, to an extent. I used extra moisturizer diligently and only used cleansing oil on my face and was fine. They tell you not to really use anything on your face, and they aren’t kidding. You have to bench your benzoyls and salicylics. No peels or other treatments. No waxing, and not just on your face. You have to be very gentle with everything you use, or your skin will revolt against you. It was kind of strange at first to simplify my routine so much, but it was kind of liberating to not have to apply 3 treatments products every night, do masks on a regular basis, and be so cautious about what you put on your face to avoid a potential break out.
The dosage is based on a mathematical formula to ensure you get a certain amount over time based on your weight. You may get a dose based on a factor of one half, 1.0, or 1.5. I started out on the 1.0 course, but had delayed results. It took me awhile to see a significant improvement, so I had to extend my course a few months. After almost 9 months so chapped lips and twice daily meds, was it worth it?
Yes! Definitely, yes. For me, acne wasn’t just esthetic; it was painful! My face was swollen and irritated. Not to mention, I work in the beauty industry, and I wasn’t feeling very beautiful. So now, 9 months later, my lips are recovering and my skin has never looked better. Now, just to keep it that way.