The word Accutane causes most people who have no idea what they’re talking about to look at you and say ‘you can’t take that stuff, it’ll make you kill yourself.’ Well, I took it 2 times and I never once considered killing myself. My cousin also took the drug and he didn't kill himself either. Each one of us had no issues taking Accutane besides being very dry, having a bit of joint pain and some eczema. I want to tell you my story about Accutane, because I would hate to see anyone suffering from acne like I was live through life feeling the way that I did when a drug exists that can clear their skin.
Let me start off by saying this: bad acne can be very debilitating. Especially when that bad acne you had as a child turns into adult acne. Acne seems like one of those things where no matter how nice you dress or how great you think your body looks, you can never feel that good because of those ugly red blemishes on your skin. I had cystic acne, which is as bad as it gets. I kept thinking I would grow out of it but after years of getting horrible breakouts I knew that would not be the case. I never wanted to leave my house and sunk into deep depression. I was at a very bad place in my life and despite trying every acne treatment imaginable, my skin never got better. If it did improve, it was only temporary. I felt completely hopeless. My severe acne was destroying my young adulthood. I remember driving home during lunch to shower in high-school because I thought that would help with my oily skin and then I wouldn't breakout as much. I was wrong. I can not overstate how horrible my life was with horrible acne.
I can't deal with my acne anymore is what I thought to myself the day I scheduled an appointment with my dermatologist to go on Accutane. I was not going to let anyone talk me out of going on the drug. I did not care if I had side effects because I could not live with the way I looked. I was convinced that there was no other drug or cream on this planet that would help fix my skin.
The day of my doctor's appointment, I came with notes in hand to convince my dermatologist to put me on Accutane. I told her I had tried benzoyl peroxide, super strong antibiotics (doxycycline, bactrim, etc.) , scrubs and even chemical peels, but nothing and I mean absolutely nothing ever seemed to work. By the time I was done with my rant, my doctor said 'ok.' Ok I thought? That's it? That was the same feeling I had when I passed my driver's test and the instructor said to me 'ok.' I was shocked and elated. I thought that I was finally going to be able to have clear skin.
Before starting Accutane, my dermatologist told me I would need to fill out the iPledge program paperwork, which was nothing. She then had one of her assistants register my name with iPledge (you need this to receive your Accutane from the pharmacy). I had to then go get my blood work done at the lab on the first floor of my dermatologist's office. I went that same day to get my blood taken.
When I went to the lab to have my blood work done, they have you sit in a chair with two arm rests, they take one of your arms and put a tight rubber strap on it and stick a needle in your arm and then swap out the tubes connected to that needle. I don't have a sensitivity to needles so this never bothered me. I had to have my blood drawn every month, for 6 months, prior to meeting with my dermatologist and getting a new Accutane prescription. This is to make sure the drug isn't damaging your liver or causing you to build up too much bad cholesterol in your arteries. At one of my appointments, my cholesterol and liver enzymes were a bit high, but my dermatologist wasn't concerned.
Now, if you're about to start taking Accutane, get these items:
1) Lots of Aquaphor for your lips. There are other good lip balm companies too. Carmex is one of them.
2) A gentle skin cleanser. I used Cetaphil.
3) A really good moisturizer. I used Oil of Olay with SPF 30 in it. Neutrogena makes a lot of good moisturizers too.
4) Visine Advanced Eye Drops - don't get the other versions of Visine (e.g. Maximum). In my experience, your eyes don't feel as lubricated with those versions of Visine.
5) Biotin - I used this because I had read that it helped prevent hair loss while on Accutane. I never lost a single hair during my course and don't believe it did much, but it might be worth buying as a precaution.
Okay, so here's how my Accutane treatment went down.
Month 1: I was prescribed 30 mgs of Claravis, which is a generic version of Accutane. Accutane's active ingredient is isotretinoin and Claravis has that ingredient. I took the drug morning and night with food. It's an oral medication in capsule form, so it's easy to take. I did not have an initial breakout and my skin wasn't that dry yet.
Month 2: I remained on 30 mgs of Claravis twice a day. My skin started to become more normal. It wasn't overly dry but I no longer felt so greasy from my oily skin. My skin had completely stopped breaking out.
Month 3: I was increased to 40mgs of Claravis twice a day. My skin became drier but I was able to stay ahead of it by moisturizing frequently. I also made sure to apply Aquaphor to my lips and Visine to my eyes proactively. The key was to not let the dryness sneak up on me. I had to stay ahead of it.
Month 4: Same as month 3 except my skin was getting much clearer.
Month 5: My Claravis dosage was increased to 60 mgs twice a day. I started developing dry skin and eczema on one of my wrists. I used this Aquaphor dry skin spray on my wrist and it helped. My skin was looking amazing though! I could literally feel my self-esteem building back up!
Month 6: My Claravis dosage was increased to 80 mgs twice a day. I could feel aches in my joints but only when I was in certain positions. I could deal with it though because it was my final month on Accutane.
After finishing my last dose of Accutane, I went acne free for 2 years without a single dot on my face. It was amazing. Then I started getting some small dots and immediately went back to my dermatologist and asked her to put me back on a low dose of Accutane. She agreed and this course was much easier than my first.
It's not been 3 years since I completeld my second dose of Accutane and I have not had any acne since. I feel like Accutane is a cure. I can't recommend this drug anymore strongly because it changed my life so dramatically. Don't let a negative Accutane review online influence your decision to take the drug. I feel like the 1% of the population who had issues with it are speaking for the 99% of people who had no issues but don't leave reviews. I had one of the more severe cases of acne you can have and now my skin has been clear long term. My outlook on life is so much better now. Please don't be scared to take it! It's so worth it that words can't describe how positively I feel about it.
FYI - I still have acne scars and I'm doing microneedling, chemical peels and have scheduled a fraxel laser sessions to deal with them. I won't ever have perfect skin but at least my acne is gone! The pictures I've attached are also old but my skin has improved a lot since then.