When can you expect Accutane results to show?

Is it a matter of days (I'm being a bit too optimistic), weeks, or months? I'm anxious to see my skin clear again. I've been living with this horrid acne since I was 14. I'm ready to let it go. Lol!

Mari3a

F, 30, Tennessee

Consensus

  • Accutane (isotretinoin) typically takes a minimum of 20 weeks (four to five months) of use to achieve full results.
  • While some patients begin to see a partial reduction in acne lesions within the first month of Accutane use, others do not see any results until four months.
  • How quickly someone see results will depend on a number of factors including the severity of their acne. It is difficult to determine how long it will take a patient to see results.
  • Unlike other acne treatments, Accutane can cause side effects like headaches, depression, and anxiety. It is important to tell your dermatologist about any side effects that you are experiencing during your monthly check-ins.
  • Friendly Reminder: The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that those using Accutane apply SPF+30 sunblock when going outside.

The consensus is based on 5 doctor replies to this question. For more details, scroll down to read them.


Your question isn’t clear as to how long you’ve already been taking isotretinoin (or how severe was your cystic acne) so I can't make any case-specific predictions, but most acne patients see a reduction in lesions by the end of the second month.

During the first month there is often no visible change other than some common symptoms like dry skin, dry lips or sore joints. Some patients see an occasional nosebleed due to the drying of their mucous membranes. My advice is to always have some lip balm on hand to keep your lips from drying to the point of cracking.

By the end of the second month you should start seeing positive results, such as fewer new acne lesions and a gradual shrinking of existing acne.

By the end of the third month you should see a clear and obvious reduction in the number of acne lesions, painful cysts, and blemishes.

In my experience most patients have clear or nearly clear skin by the end of the fourth month.
It's easy to understand your impatience, having already suffered with acne for this long, but the first two months can often be rather uneventful.

Isotretinoin (Absorica, Amnesteem or whichever brand has been prescribed to you) is extremely effective at fighting acne and has improved the lives of thousands of people suffering from severe hormonal acne. Don't be discouraged if you don't see results within the first month. If you begin to experience severe anxiety, depression or any unusual mental health issues, be sure to notify your dermatologist at once.

Have patience. In rare cases, patients show some improvement within the first two weeks but often there are zero indications of improvement during the first month. It depends on the type of acne you have, the dose you're taking, and other factors.

For some patients, the first sign that isotretinoin is working is that they begin to notice side effects -- such as dry lips or dry skin -- before they actually see a reduction in acne.

In most cases you will start to see some signs of improvement by the end of the second month, but for some people there are no real visible signs of improvement until as late as the fourth month.

Isotretinoin is a very powerful drug for treating teen and adult acne. My advice is to worry less about how well it works and focus on taking the medication daily as per your prescription. The positive effects of isotretinoin can be long-term and life changing. Patients commonly report greater self-esteem and more confidence in social situations.

Give it time. I'm not sure from your question how long you’ve already been taking isotretinoin, but based on my own experience, clear skin is most likely a matter of when and not if for you at this point.

That's a question that depends on how long you have been taking isotretinoin, at what dosage, and the severity of your acne. Also, everyone responds differently to isotretinoin. Some patients see a partial reduction in acne lesions within the first month while other patients might not see real results until their fourth month.

Generally speaking, isotretinoin takes 20 or more weeks to work completely.

Remember to adhere to the guidelines given to you by your dermatologist. And please remember, if you’re female, to stay true to your iPledge agreement. Practice some form of birth control and don't skip any of your daily isotretinoin doses.

Remember to communicate any side effects -- such as headaches, depression, anxiety -- to your dermatologist when you go in for your monthly blood/pregnancy tests.

Also please note that the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends that patients taking isotretinoin use strong sunblock (at least SPF+30) when out in the sun.

Isotretinoin is a very powerful anti-acne medication. I have had many patients respond favorably to isotretinoin when other treatments like tazorac, doxycycline, and spironolactone were ineffective. My advice is to be patient. I can't say how soon it will work but, in my experience, it almost always does.

It's important to manage expectations for the first two months of isotretinoin treatment. I make a point of explaining the need for patience when starting any patient on a new course of acne treatment.

Without knowing anything about your particular case, I can't comment as to when you'll start seeing results from your acne treatment, but the vast majority of my own acne patients begin to see results from isotretinoin by the second or third month.

The effects of the medication on sebum production, bacterial infection, and inflammation can all take time to show a visible reduction in acne lesions. While I understand your impatience after suffering with acne for so long, the positive effects of isotretinoin can be slow in coming.

The most important part of taking Accutane from a patient perspective is to stick carefully to the prescription and stay vigilant about the iPledge program. As you know, isotretinoin can cause serious birth defects. As a result, the FDA requires patients taking isotretinoin to sign on to iPledge and submit to in-office pregnancy tests.

Isotretinoin (formerly sold as Accutane and Roaccutane) is the most effective weapon we have in the fight against severe acne. In my experience it is extremely rare to see anything but great results. My best advice at this point would be to trust your dermatologist and have patience.

Lawrence Broder has 1 Acne treatment before & after:

Acne treatment before image performed by Dr. Lawrence BroderAcne treatment after image performed by Dr. Lawrence Broder

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Knowing nothing more about your condition, Accutane may take months to show the results you are looking for.