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Accutane (Isotretinoin)

Accutane is the brand name of isotretinoin, a prescription acne treatment medication for severe acne or cystic acne.

Accutane

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The Skinny


Average Recovery

0 weeks

Permanence

Temporary

Application

Pill

Surgical

No

Cost

$100 - $500

The Specifics


What is Accutane?

Accutane (a.k.a. isotretinoin) is a retinoid oral medication for the treatment of cystic acne (nodular acne) or severe acne refractory to other treatments (like tetracyclines or benzoyl peroxides). Accutane is approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat acne.

Types of Acne

Types of Acne Illustration Comedonal Inflammatory Cystic Dark Skin

Retinoids are vitamin A derivatives that stimulate cell turnover, increasing removal of dead skin cells, clearing pores more quickly of bacteria causing acne, and providing anti-inflammatory effects. Isotretinoin specifically reduces sebum production to help keep pores open and clean.

Accutane is known to create dramatic improvements in acne, however, there are severe adverse effects associated with its use. All females will need to take a pregnancy test, have a negative pregnancy test, utilize birth control, and sign an ipledge (agreement to continue at least two forms of birth control) while on Accutane due to the serious risk of birth defects.

What cosmetic concerns does Accutane treat?

  1. Acne: Isotretinoin reduces sebum to clear pores and also provide antiinflammatory benefits to significantly lessen the severity of acne.

Who is the ideal candidate for Accutane?

The ideal candidate for Accutane therapy has cystic acne or severe acne that has been unresponsive to all other treatment modalities. Accutane is not recommended for pregnant women, those who are breastfeeding, or those trying to conceive. Accutane should be used with caution in those with impaired kidney or liver function, or certain mental health problems.

What is the average recovery associated with Accutane?

There is no recovery period from Accutane therapy, however, there are numerous important considerations when on isotretinoin therapy. Patients should avoid skincare products containing benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, sulfur products, or other irritating ingredients. Patients will also need to limit sun exposure, wear protective clothing, and use a broad spectrum UV lotion. Patients should not take vitamin A while on Accutane due to risk of vitamin A toxicity.

What are the potential side effects of Accutane?

Common side effects of Accutane therapy include dry mouth/lips, flaking skin, swelling, nosebleeds, allergic reaction, upset stomach, drug interactions, and nail/hair thinning or yellowing. Long term use may lead to more severe possible side effects such as Crohn’s disease (an inflammatory bowel disease), abnormal bone growth, arthralgia, dry eye syndrome, xeroderma, eczema exacerbation, birth defects, and suicidal thoughts.

What can someone expect from the results of Accutane?

The results of Accutane therapy will develop over several weeks of regular use. Use of Accutane must be monitored by a professional health care provider for regular blood tests and assessment of side effects. The length of the therapy cycles will be determined by providers and how the individual patient responds to the medication.

What is the average cost of Accutane?

The average cost of Accutane is $100 to $500, but may be dependent on insurance. The actual cost of the Accutane will vary by location, healthcare provider, and individual candidate needs.

Pros

effective

Cons

many side effectsextreme dryness

Invasiveness Score

mildmoderatesevere
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Invasiveness is graded based on factors such as anesthesia practices, incisions, and recovery notes common to this procedure.

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.

The Takeaway


Accutane (isotretinoin) is a generic form of vitamin A derivative retinoid skincare products. Accutane is FDA approved to treat severe acne and cystic acne.

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Source List

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AEDIT uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Yanhan Wang, Tissa R. Hata Yun, Larry Tong, Christos C. Zouboulis, Richard L. Gallo, Chun-Ming Huang The Anti-Inflammatory Activities of Propionibacterium acnes CAMP Factor-Targeted Acne Vaccines ; 2018-11-11
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‘Try on’ aesthetic procedures and instantly visualize possible results with AEDIT and our patented 3D aesthetic simulator.