Accutane is a miracle drug. Period! It has 100% changed my life in such a positive way. It was the best decision I've ever made and has changed my life so positively that I can't recommend it enough to anyone suffering from mild or severe acne.
I had suffered from chronic moderate acne for many years. From high-school until just after college, there was hardly a week that went by without a new zit appearing on my face. To treat it, I was constantly running to the dermatologist and tried everything - antibiotics (Bactrim, doxycycline), ointments and even blue light therapy. Absolutely nothing provided long-term results. My acne would always stop for a little while and then bam, a new blemish would appear! I absolutely hated it! There were so many Friday and Saturday nights that I wanted to go out with my friends, but would back out because a huge pimple would show up on my face! It would make me so mad. Especially since I had a very clean diet, exercised frequently, drank a lot of water, took 2 showers a day and never went to bed without washing my face. What else could I possibly do? I was beginning to lose hope that I would ever have clear skin, until I finally said I can't take this anymore and demanded that my dermatologist put me on Accutane. She agreed and on I went!
Here's what you need to know about Accutane:
1. How does Accutane differ for males and females? Will I need frequent blood tests?
If you're a male, it's not that big of a deal. You take the iPledge test, which is super easy and then you get monthly blood tests before visiting your dermatologist for your prescription renewal. If you're a female, it's a bit more involved. You have to go on two forms of contraceptives (condoms and birth control pills) in addition to having your blood work done every month. You'll also have to take a pregnancy test prior to starting Accutane to prove you're not pregnant. This is because Accutane will with 100% certainty cause birth defects.
2. How long is the treatment?
My treatment was 6 months. Some people may be on the drug for fewer or more months depending on their reaction to the drug and the severity of their acne.
3. Why do I need to have blood work done every month?
Blood work is necessary to monitor your cholesterol (and a few other things), as Accutane can cause your body to produce more bad cholesterol and you certainly don't want your arteries clogging up. My cholesterol was a bit high on 1 of my blood tests and went down the following month.
4. Stop using harsh acne treatment products before going on Accutane.
Do not use any harsh acne skin care products before starting Accutane (e.g. benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid washes and so on). These products will only irritate your skin more and make your it even drier. Accutane is the only acne treatment you'll need while you're on it. I recommend using Cetaphil sensitive face wash to wash your face and body, Aquaphor or Carmex for your dry lips and Visine drops to prevent dry eyes. I also recommend taking a biotin supplement for your hair, although I'm not sure if it made a difference.
5. What dosage will I be on?
The dosage your dermatologist will put you on depends on your height, weight and the severity of your acne. It also depends on whether or not your dermatologist will follow the dosage guidelines of 0.1 mg/kg/day to 1.0 mg/kg/day. My dermatologist put me on 20 mgs twice a day to start and after 2 months, she upped it to 30 mgs 2x a day. I am 6'1" and 200 lbs, so this was a very low dose, but my acne wasn't terrible but it was persistent.
6. Difference between Claravis and Absorica?
I was told that Absorica has been shown in clinical studies to be absorbed better by the body than Claravis, preventing a reoccurrence of Acne. Absorica is more expensive, although it definitely worked for me. I paid $75 a month for it and I have good insurance, so I'm not sure what it will cost others.
7. Does Accutane help with scars?
The short answer is no. I have a few acne scars on my temple (depressed scars) and they did not improve after I took Accutane. The general consensus on Accutane and what it can do for your scars, is that it will not make scars on your face magically disappear. What it will do, is prevent you from forming any new acne that could damage your skin and it will shrink your pores, which tightens your skin and indirectly may cause scars to look better. While you're on Accutane, your shrunken pores will make your skin look the best it has ever looked
8. What side effects should I expect while I'm on Accutane?
I had dry skin, eyes and lips. I also felt a very small amount of joint pain in my final month on Accutane, but I felt it more when I woke up and it wasn't that bad. It went away as soon as I stopped taking the drug. I did not have an initial breakout either, which is a common complaint.
I have had 5 other friends who have taken Accutane, and their experiences matched mine, with 1 saying she had pretty bad joint pain. If you read about people's experiences with Accutane online, some will complain of nosebleeds and hair loss in addition to the side effects I mentioned above. And in rare cases, some people have accused Accutane of causing severe side effects like Crohn's Disease and bad depression, but I have not met a single person personally who has suffered from these side effects due to Accutane. I do know that a US Senator's son killed himself while on Accutane and the senator had a lot to do with the tough measures implemented to make it harder to go on Accutane.
9. What types of Acne does Accutane treat?
Accutane is usually prescribed for the treatment of severe cystic acne, but can also be used to treat mild or moderate acne (like I had).
My experience with Accutane could not have been more positive. I did not have any rough side effects and my acne was cured once and for all! It has now been 5 years since I took Accutane and I have not had a single major breakout since then. I have had a few small zits, but they usually disappear within a day or two and they're not usually that red. I went from having disgusting oily skin to having nice, normal skin. I used to feel like I needed to take 5 showers a day because my skin was so oily. Now I wake up, put moisturizer on my face and feel great the entire day. My experience with Accutane was so positive, words can't describe it. If you have acne that won't go away, you need to take Accutane. It is the best thing you can do for acne.