Is Accutane Worth It?

Giuliana Carmosino

Accutane (Isotretinoin) is a very powerful drug that is used to permanently treat acne, but it is a very controversial topic on if accutane is worth it. It is known to have side effects such as dry skin, rashes, itching, chapped and dry lips, nosebleeds, vision problems, joint pain and muscle soreness, as well as in some cases affecting mental health. Accutane is often a last resort type of medicine to cure acne as it is such a powerful treatment. Accutane is normally used with severe scarring acne, and acne that hasn’t cleared up with other treatments such as creams and pills. Although all of the health side effects that could be in question with accutane it could potentially be healthier for you than long term antibiotic usage. Accutane is a naturally occurring strain of vitamin A that can be detected in the human bloodstream. Accutane is a drug that is metabolized in the liver, which calls for blood tests when going on accutane to check the damage done on the liver. The usual patient is put on accutane for 4-6 months although some patients are retreated with another full round. Accutane is seen as the last resort acne medication that ultimately cures acne in the present as well as the future. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of this sometimes harsh treatment.

Pros

The more accutane that a person takes the more effective it will be, therefore the more absorption of the treatment will take place into the bloodstream; you will see the most results by taking this medicine with food. Accutane works by shrinking the oil glands in the skin, which results in basically stopping oil production in the skin all together. After the normal dosage and duration of 4-6 months most patients see a permanent elimination of acne. Those who do see the oil glands grow back they report that the breakouts that occur lessen in intensity as well as frequency, and these patients often take a second round of treatment and tremendously improve. Accutane also slows down the growth of skin cells which can clog pores, therefore killing the bacteria in your pores that causes acne and inflammation. Overall accutane is a permanent cure for acne for years and years on end even after the fact of taking the treatment. Although the side effects may seem daring and may push some away, it is the most serious treatment that there is today to get rid of all acne present and future. Accutane has a very high success rate in patients who need one or even more treatments, and even with the side effects accutane has always proved highly effective. 

Cons

Although it is seen as very effective in patients worldwide and with all different severities of acne, there are many side effects that can be presented when taking this treatment. Weather that be effects that every patient experiences, or sometimes more serious problems that are uncommon but can still happen. Side effects can be seen as a result of the different dosages that each patient takes. At the lowest doses there are little to no side effects that are seen, while at the highest doses there are known to be some pretty nasty effects, which are connected with the drying effects on the oil glands. The dose that is given to patients has to be a balance between effectiveness and side effects. The most common side effects include

  • Chapped lips (90%)
  • Dry skin and itching (80%)
  • Mild nosebleeds (80%)
  • Irritation of the eyelids and eyes (40%)
  • Joint and muscle pains (15%)

Followed by more uncommon symptoms

  • ¬†Temporary hair thinning (10%)
  • Rash (7%)
  • Intestinal Symptoms (5%)
  • Urinary Symptoms (5%)
  • Headache (5%)
  • Increased sensitivity to the sun (5%)
  • Decreased night vision (<1%)
  • Depression, thoughts of suicide (<1%)

Accutane has been known to increase the level of blood fats, sometimes to unhealthy and dangerous numbers, however this is seen to revert back to old healthy numbers when the drug is no longer in use. Since this treatment is metabolized in the liver, it can sometimes affect the liver, this is why they monitor this with frequent blood tests to check the liver. The most damaging effect of this treatment is the serious birth defects that are 100% guaranteed to happen if pregnant while on this drug. Each pill you take, male or female will have a pregnant woman crossed off on it. This is just one of the many steps that doctors take to ensure that their patients know the effects of childbirth with this drug. Another thing that they do to ensure no pregnancies occur while on accutane is having to take pregnancy tests every month before receiving the treatment, as well as having to be on two different forms of birth control. 

Even though accutane is often frowned upon due to the sometimes harsh side effects that patients have reported having, this is an end all be all treatment that will terminate all acne. Although many cons can be seen from this treatment there are combats with every single one of the side effects that can help reduce and diminish them all together. If you are looking for a highly effective acne treatment that will leave your skin clear for years and years to come then accutane is your best bet. Oftentimes creams and pills will not do the trick and will show more effects than accutane will. Therefore from all of the information above we can see that accutane is very controversial when it comes to treatment for acne, however it is a strong drug that has permanently solved the acne problem in patients all around the world.