Accutane, also referred to as Isotretinoin, is a medication used to treat moderate to severe acne. It tends to be more potent than many other acne medications. And, Isotretinoin is often used after other acne medications have failed to deliver the desired results.
For people struggling with acne and want to improve their skin health, Accutane is one of many treatment options to consider. Now, let’s answer some of the key questions surrounding Isotretinoin.
What Is Accutane?
Accutane can be used to correct cystic acne, i.e. acne that has not subsided following other treatments. It is a retinoid, which is a type of chemical compound that can reduce fine lines and wrinkles and boost collagen production.
In addition, Accutane is a naturally occurring vitamin A derivative. It uses vitamin A in the bloodstream to form naturally in the body. However, the body can remove Isotretinoin from the bloodstream within nine days.
What Does Accutane Do Exactly?
Accutane shrinks the skin’s oil (sebaceous) glands. In doing so, the medication limits the amount of oil that these glands can produce. This prevents the glands from producing excess oil that can otherwise lead to acne and other skin issues.
What Does Accutane Do to Your Body?
Research shows Accutane can affect the body in several ways. Regardless, the side effects of Isotretinoin are usually minimal and disappear on their own shortly after treatment.
In one study, researchers evaluated the efficacy of Accutane to treat patients coping with acne. They found that patients who received oral Isotretinoin tend to reduce or eliminate their acne within four to six months of treatment, depending on their dosage.
Furthermore, the study revealed Accutane can be safe and effective in acne patients dealing with significant systemic diseases. It also showed Isotretinoin can be used to treat myriad acne variants.
Study researchers noted there are many Accutane side effects, but they are often predictable and do not interfere with a patient’s recovery. Common side effects of Isotretinoin treatment include:
- Cheilitis (inflammation of the lips)
- Retinoid dermatitis (skin irritation)
Researchers reported several rare side effects of Accutane as well. These include:
- Achilles tendonitis
- Mood changes
- Night blindness
- Sticky palms
Other research has been used to examine the use of Accutane to treat acne vulgaris, a chronic skin disease that can affect the face and chest. This research showed Isotretinoin has helped millions of patients alleviate acne symptoms for more than three decades. As new Accutane studies are completed, they may further illustrate how the medication impacts the body and its overall safety and efficacy.
How Often Do You Need to Take Accutane to Cure Acne?
Accutane can be taken as a capsule. The medication may be consumed twice a day for 15 to 20 weeks as directed by a dermatologist.
Most generic forms of Accutane should be consumed with food. This can boost the absorption of Isotretinoin in the bloodstream.
Isotretinoin may be taken with a glass of water as well. In this instance, a patient should avoid lying down for at least 10 minutes after they take the medication.
The amount of Accutane required for a patient varies based on the severity of their acne, weight, and response to treatment. Isotretinoin treatment results are monitored closely. If a patient experiences severe side effects of treatment, he or she should notify their doctor immediately.
In the first few weeks after taking Isotretinoin, a patient’s acne may inadvertently appear worse than before. If this occurs, there is no need to stress. Because, Accutane tends to start working within one to two months of treatment.
If a patient experiences severe acne within two months of starting an Isotretinoin program, he or she may require a second course of treatment. The patient should consult with their dermatologist to determine if Accutane should continue to be used to treat acne.
Can You Get Facial Plastic Surgery While You Are Taking Accutane?
Acne patients who are taking Accutane should wait at least one year before they undergo facial plastic surgery. This ensures patients can achieve the complete results of their Isotretinoin treatment. These patients can also minimize the risk of surgery complications.
Can You Take Accutane for Acne If You Are Pregnant?
Accutane cannot be used by women who are or may become pregnant. This is due to the fact that there is a high risk of birth defects in women who take Isotretinoin during pregnancy.
Research has linked to birth defects that affect the face, eyes, ears, and skull. It has been shown that Isotretinoin can damage the central nervous system, cardiovascular system, and thymus and parathyroid glands in newborns. Isotretinoin has also been associated with an increased risk of spontaneous abortion and premature birth.
Ultimately, women who may become pregnant should avoid Accutane, since even a small amount of Isotretinoin can increase the risk of birth defects. If a woman is taking Accutane and becomes pregnant, she should stop their acne treatment immediately. At this time, the woman should consult with an obstetrician-gynecologist for further evaluation.
What Is the iPledge Program for Accutane?
The iPledge program is designed to prevent women who may become pregnant or are pregnant from taking Isotretinoin. It is mandatory for anyone who plans to use Accutane to enroll in iPledge before they can receive treatment. Doctors who prescribe Accutane or pharmacists who dispense it must register for the program, too.
Certain requirements must be met to remain enrolled in iPledge for Accutane. These requirements can include:
- Monthly pregnancy tests
- Use of multiple forms of birth control
- Picking up an Accutane within a designated time frame
Both women and men must sign up for iPledge if they intend to use Accutane. They can learn about all iPledge requirements from their doctor before they receive Isotretinoin.
Are You a Good Candidate for Accutane for Acne?
People dealing with mild acne may benefit from a variety of medications, including:
1. Oil Control Pads
Oil control pads can remove oil from the skin. They can also reduce skin irritation and pores.
2. Acne Treatment Cream
Acne treatment cream (benzoyl peroxide) eliminates acne-causing bacteria on the skin. Many acne creams deliver results within about three weeks. People can typically achieve the full results of an acne treatment cream within eight to 12 weeks.
Antibiotics can destroy acne-causing skin bacteria and reduce redness and inflammation. They are commonly used in combination with a retinoid and/or acne treatment cream.
For those who have used these treatments or others but are still coping with acne, consult with a dermatologist. At this time, a dermatologist can evaluate their patient’s acne and offer a personalized treatment recommendation.
A dermatologist tailors an acne treatment plan to their patient. So, there may be times when a dermatologist recommends Isotretinoin. Or, the dermatologist can recommend Accutane alternatives.
What Are the Best Accutane Alternatives?
The best alternatives to Accutane treatment include:
1. Blue Light Therapy
Blue light therapy is a non-surgical treatment that uses blue light to destroy acne-causing bacteria on the skin. The therapy can treat acne and stop an outbreak. However, questions persist about the effectiveness of blue light therapy.
Research indicates blue light therapy may be beneficial when it is used in combination with a secondary acne treatment. Yet, the therapy may only deliver short-term acne relief when it is performed on its own.
2. Chemical Peel
A chemical peel can be used to exfoliate the skin. It can prevent dead skin cells and excess oil from clogging hair follicles. As a result, a chemical peel can be used to reduce acne.
3. Drainage and Extraction
A doctor can use special tools to remove whiteheads, blackheads, and cysts. This treatment can correct acne and improve the appearance of the skin. Conversely, the treatment can cause scarring.
Research has also been used to assess the use of tea tree oil, brewer’s yeast, and other forms of alternative medicines to treat acne. Some of these medicines may provide immediate acne relief. But, additional research is necessary to evaluate the safety and efficacy of alternative medicines to cure acne.
Find Your Ideal Acne Treatment
Accutane for acne can be beneficial, but the treatment is not ideal for everyone. To decide if Isotretinoin is the best acne treatment, consult with Dr. Babak Azizzadeh of the CENTER for Advanced Facial Plastic Surgery in Beverly Hills.
Dr. Azizzadeh is a globally recognized facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon. He has performed many acne treatments over the years. And, Dr. Azizzadeh can evaluate a patient and determine if Accutane or another treatment option can deliver the optimal results.
Schedule an Acne Treatment Consultation with Dr. Azizzadeh
Dr. Azizzadeh has a simple goal: to help his patients achieve a balanced and natural-looking facial appearance. He can meet with a patient to discuss Accutane and other acne treatment options. Also, Dr. Azizzadeh can help a patient develop, implement, and maintain a personalized skincare regimen — and more.
If acne has been a long-term problem, Dr. Azizzadeh can provide a solution. He offers in-person acne treatment consultations in Los Angeles and virtual consultations via Zoom. That way, a patient can easily meet with Dr. Azizzadeh to explore acne treatment options. For more information or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Azizzadeh, contact us online or call us today at 310-620-3755.