Accutane Was Much Easier to Take Than I Thought
Hello, my name is Olivia Flocco. I’m a 23 year-old female from the Philadelphia area, and I’ve been on Accutane (Claravis 30mg) twice. Both rounds on the medicine went just about the same.
The first time was when I was 18 years old. I started to develop serious acne – beyond regular teenage/hormonal acne. My entire face was covered in whitehead pustules along with deep blackheads on my nose, and painful cystic acne along my jawline and lower cheeks. Prior to reaching out to a dermatologist, I had tried every solution under the sun: Proactiv, Swedish facemasks, facialists, different multi-step systems, diet changes, literally anything I could. Some methods would show temporary results, but within weeks I would be back to swollen, broken out skin. Eventually I hit a breaking point when I couldn’t even rest peacefully on my pillow without feeling pain because of my cystic acne, so I scheduled an appointment with Dr. Milstein at Milstein-Batta dermatology in Pennsylvania.
Upon meeting with Dr. Milstein, he explained to me that it’s standard procedure to try a few more solutions before turning right to Accutane, so we first tried a topical solution and then some sort of antibiotic to see if they could make a difference. They didn’t. When I saw him next, we decided to start me on Accutane. He prescribed me Claravis (30mg) twice a day for about 5 months.
As a female, there are a few steps you must complete before actually getting the pills. Because of the complications that Claravis can cause to pregnancy, I was required to go on birth control as well as joining the iPledge progam. iPledge is an online program that requires you to confirm the two forms of birth control you’re using each month while on Accutane (I was using birth control pills as well as latex condoms) as well as answering a series of questions before each prescription gets approval for refills. Once you’ve completed your iPledge program, you must also get blood work done. This is not only a pregnancy test, but also a way to keep an eye on your liver and other things in your system that may be affected negatively while on the medicine. These two steps must be completed before every monthly refill, so I would normally get my blood work done a few days before my next appointment so my doctor had it in time, and then would do the iPledge questions upon leaving the appointment and going to pick up my prescription.
For the most part, I would say that the warnings about Accutane are much scarier than the actual thing. There have been cases reported about people experiencing extreme depression, hair loss, body pains, dryness, and many more side effects while on Accutane, but I would say I experienced barely any if not none of those side effects.
Within my first month of Claravis, I could see a difference in my skin. I was still broken out, but the pustules had shrunk and my cystic acne was beginning to subside. My skin was still red and acne-scarred, but I could see that it was working so it made me excited and confident in the treatment. By the end of the first month, I was experiencing the notorious dryness that Accutane can cause, but this was nothing that some Aquafor couldn’t help. Aquafor was my best friend throughout this whole process. The biggest place I saw dryness was on my lips, but occasionally my hands would become a little extra dry or I would find a small dry patch developing on my arm. Just a bit of Aquafor, and I was fine.
The second & third months were when I started to see improvement. While my cystic acne was still lingering, the whiteheads and blackheads had begun to heal and disappear. Around the end of the third month, I would experience a slight pain in my chest. It would only occur if I was lying on my stomach and got up quickly – it would feel like my bones were sore, but after a moment the soreness would subside.
As my third month continued, I would see a huge improvement in my cystic acne as well as a reduction in acne scarring in every other area. My pores were shrinking, and I could see my skin pretty much resurfacing. The dryness continued throughout all of this, but I felt it was very manageable.
The fourth month was when I saw the biggest turn around. My cystic acne had cleared, and my skin texture continued to improve. Each day it became smoother, clearer, and less red & irritated. I honestly couldn’t, and still can’t believe how it worked.
My fifth month was a breeze. I probably could have stopped the pills if I really wanted, but like a good patient I finished out the dosages. At this point I was confident enough to leave the house without makeup, and let my skin shine.
Throughout this whole process, I continued to maintain a steady facial cleansing routine, but I simplified it. I explored oil cleansers and fell in love with them, especially with the drying that Accutane can cause. As for toner, I used only rose water and for moisturizer I used Ponds dry skin cream. In the mornings, I always followed it up with sunscreen. With my Aquafor in my pocket at all times, no dryness was too difficult to deal with and before I knew it I was finished my pills!
Each month at my appointments with Dr. Milstein, he would ask me questions pertaining to certain side effects I may experience, answer any questions I may have had, and would let me know what he thought of my progress. My health insurance covered a majority of the costs for each appointment & prescription. The only money I paid was a co-pay for the appointment which was $60.
Honestly, Accutane was a much easier process than I ever could have imagined. With a bit of dedication and a good routine, I was successful in both of my Accutance treatments.
I eventually went back onto Accutane two years later because I began experiencing reoccurring painful cystic acne, and Dr. Milstein took the same steps to help me out. My second round on Claravis 30mg went pretty much the same – simple.
Thanks to Claravis & Dr. Milstein, I feel the most confident I’ve felt in my entire life. I went from hiding under layers of makeup and avoiding leaving the house, to not worrying about applying anything but mascara if I don’t want to. For those suffering with intense acne, you understand how crippling it can be to your confidence and your life. A few months of pills and blood tests were absolutely worth the results I saw. If you want to see a chance in your skin, try Accutane. Do not let the warnings scare you away from giving it a try.
Nowadays the only type of breakout I experience is a tiny hormonal breakout around the time of my period. I maintained pretty much the same cleansing/toning/moisturizing routine for the sake of not shocking my skin with too much product, but I do a gentle exfoliating mask each week to keep my pores in check.
I honestly could not be happier, and I would 100% suggest Accutane to ANYBODY that knows the struggle of stubborn acne.