My Accutane story is a bit dated but I wanted to share it with the Zwivel community for anyone considering taking the drug.
I started getting acne when I was in high-school. My acne wasn't severe acne, but it was pretty bad in the sense that it never seemed to go away. I felt like having acne held me back. It damaged my self-confidence and caused depression. Many of my friends had clear skin and there I was, constantly trying to cover my zits with makeup. I remember refraining from eating anything greasy in HS because I thought it would make my skin better, but it never did.
My dermatologist at the time was Dr. Virginia Chen, who had an office in Ardsley, NY (she no longer has that office). She put me on several creams and antibiotics, including deoxycycline and bactrim. Out of all the treatments she gave me, only bactrim worked and that wasn't a drug you want to be on long term. It's one of the most powerful antibiotics and I was worried about becoming antibiotic resistant. I raised these concerns with her and she told me that on my next visit I could try Accutane.
The next time I scheduled a visit with Dr. Chen, the secretary told me she had shut down her Ardsley office. I now only had the option of going to her NYC office. Fortunately, at that time I was going to college in NYC and it wasn't too much of an inconvenience to meet with her. This is where things got weird though. I went to her NYC office and it was an absolute mess (I found a photo online and attached it to this review. I want everyone to understand what a mess it really was). They had also lost my patient files during their move and their photocopier was broken, so they couldn't even make a copy of my insurance card. When I went in to see Dr. Chen, it seemed like she had a mental breakdown. She was still nice but when I reminded her about our accutane discussion, she just said sure, let's get you on it. She enrolled me iPledge and wrote me a script for accutane, without sending me to get blood work! Based on my research, I knew this was wrong. I decided Dr. Chen must have had some sort of mental breakdown and it was time to find a new dermatologist.
A friend from home recommended I see Dr. Eric Treiber in Rye, NY. Dr. Treiber is a nice guy and seemed much more organized an put together than Dr. Chen. I told Dr. Treiber my acne treatment history and he agreed to put me on Accutane. He started me off on 20mgs twice a day and then a few months in upped me to 30mgs twice a day. Also, unlike Dr. Chen, he made me get a blood test before starting my treatment.
The first month on Accutane, I literally didn't feel any different. I did not have any initial breakout and I was very proactive in applying lip balm (aquaphor), and moisturizer (Which likely helped prevent me from having very dry skin). I also switched to Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser, which was much easier on the skin than the acne wash I was using. NOTE: Do not continue using harsh acne treatment products (ex: benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, etc) when you're on Accutane. This will make your skin so much worse. You'll dry it out and it will cause additional breakouts. Drop everything you were using to treat your acne when you start Accutane!
As my dosage of Accutane went up, I started getting dry eyes in addition to dryness of my skin and lips. To combat this, I used Visine Maximum Strength drops morning and night. This solved my issue with dry eyes. Otherwise, upping my dosage didn't change anything. My skin was a little drier, but as long as I frequently applied moisturizer, it didn't look or feel dry.
My final month of Accutane I experienced a little back pain but it wasn't the unbearable pain people speak about online. I just felt like I had a slight ache in my back when I woke up in the morning.
If you're thinking of taking Accutane, you should. It is an amazing drug. Yes, you will have dry skin, lips and possibly eyes, but you'll also have very clear skin! It's been years since my Accutane treatment and only here and there will I get an occasional pimple. Accutane has restored my self-esteem and I'm no longer worried about getting a zit before going out at night. I also no longer use any harsh acne treatments. This was my best decision ever.