Accutane, also known as isotretinoin, is used to treat cystic acne (also known as nodular acne or scarring acne) or severe acne that has not responded to other treatment. Accutane is a powerful medication that can only be prescribed by a medical professional, however despite numerous side effects, it has proven results to clear acne ridden skin.
- avg. recovery
About the Procedure
Accutane belongs to a class of drugs known as retinoids (meaning it is related to Vitamin A). It works by decreasing sebum, or facial oil, production. High amounts of sebum can lead to severe acne due to clogged pores. If untreated, severe acne may cause permanent scarring which can have emotional and phycological effects. Accutane is typically only prescribed when other methods of treatment have been unsuccessful such as with benzoyl peroxide products. Always take Accutane with a glass of water to prevent the capsule from melting in the esophagus causing irritation. Never chew or suck on the capsule. Swallow the capsule as quickly as possible. Acne may seem worse at the onset of taking Accutane however it is important to take the medication for the entire length of time prescribed. Acne will improve over the course of the treatment period which typically lasts between 4 and 5 months. To be sure Accutane is not causing adverse effects, blood and liver function may need to be tested often.
The goal of Accutane is to reduce the appearance and occurrence of acne, specifically cystic acne.
What to Expect
Accutane is known for its dramatic improvement of acne-prone skin but is equally notorious for its severe side effects. Here is a quick guide for what to expect before, during, and after treatment with Accutane.
- Have a thorough consultation with a dermatologist
- Female patients should start birth control since Accutane can cause birth defects
During Treatment: Week 1
Patients will experience side effects at different times (or not at all) depending on their individual body, acne severity, and dosage. Within one week of starting Accutane, some patients will already experience abnormally dry lips.
No recovery is needed when taking Accutane for acne treatment.
Accutane is recommended for patients with severe cystic acne that has been unresponsive to all other treatment options.
Not Recommended For
Accutane is not recommended for patients who are pregnant trying to become pregnant, or breastfeeding.
Accutane is a naturally occurring derivative of vitamin A and is detectable in small quantities in the bloodstream of all people. In normal dosages, Accutane is removed from the bloodstream after approximately 9 days. Vitamin A (and thus Accutane) can become harmful in large doses because it builds up in the tissue. (Important: Don't take any vitamin A while on Accutane). Side effects of Accutane can include dry lips, dry mouth, swelling, crusty skin, nosebleeds, upset stomach, and hair thinning. Long term side effects of Accutane can include Crohn’s disease, abnormal bone growth, dry eye syndrome, arthralgia, xeroderma, and exacerbation of eczema. The most serious side effects of Accutane are significant birth defects if taken at any time during pregnancy or even a short time before pregnany.