After several months of hemming and hawing, I have finally decided to take my dermatologist's recommendation and go for the Accutane.
I'm terrified about it, though. I know the vast majority of people handle it well, but I'm scared of the possible bad side effects. Crohn's disesase and diabetes in particular. On the other hand, I am also scared of being as broken out for my wedding as I am now, and ruining my pictures. I am scared of all the chemicals I will probably have to keep putting on my skin for the rest of my life just to keep it socially acceptable. I am afraid the scarring will continue to get worse, and that I'll end up looking like Danny Trejo when I'm 40. I'm scared of going the rest of my life being afraid to look people in the eye when it's at its worst.
Can anyone help me to not freak out about this, please?
I would be scared to take it, too. One of my ex-boyfriends took it as a teenager. He no longer takes it but to this day he gets sores on his scalp as a result of it. Please see if there is another option out there. I'm scared for you!
I took it and had the best skin of my life because of it. After I stopped it, my skin never was as bad as before. I do think I have some long-term side effects, more to do with depression.
I took it when I was 12/13 and im glad I did. It saved me years of terrible acne. I still get pimples before my period, but it's only one and it goes away! right after I stopped using it (through high school) I didn't even have to wear make up..my skin was perfection all the time. The chapped lips sucked, but nothing that Vaseline and a hot washcloth can't fix. Good luck!
My sister, who is now 40, took Accutane for about 6 years when she was a teenager/early 20's. It really did have great results for her skin; her pre-Accutane acne was pretty extreme and she does have some scarring and pock marks, but once she went on the Accutane, it was a night-and-day difference. I don't think she'd have the physical appearance she currently has without having taken it, nor the confidence. She has had no long-term side effects other than her hair is a bit brittle, but so is my brother's so it's hard to say how much of that is hereditarty and how much is from the Accutane. As for depression, she's one of the most cheerful, productive, all-around happy people I've ever met (seriously she makes Hello Kitty look angry by comparison).
None of these things prove Accutane to be 100% always safe for everyone, but I just wanted to point out that you're not guaranteed to suffer the side effects. Some people will, some won't. Hopefully these details will help ease your concerns now that you've decided to take it.
@EffieTrinket: I wish I had some words to un-freak you out, but I don't. :( With my awful skin, I finally decided to try Accutane (I think I was around...27?) and I kept reading the possible side affects over and over and over again and finally freaked myself out enough that I stopped taking it after less than two weeks.
In other words: I don't think it's worth it. I've moved on to topical creams - I use AcZone and Retin-A. And while I still get zits, I am not as scarily red spotted as before. I'm happy with how they work and suggest you look into them!
I took it when it first hit the market and had to sign many disclaimers and agree to particpate in a weekly survey/study from Boston University while using it. Other than the severe dryness, I really had minimal side effects from it and ended up with great looking skin.
I think many people get upset when they read the literature and all the possible issues you may have (I know I did) , so maybe talk it over first with your physician and get his take on it before you begin. It might make you feel better.
@EffieTrinket: At first i was freaked out, but i knew two other people that had great results. I did the treatement for 6 months. My side effects was dry skin, hair loss (just noticed more when i showered) and dry lips. My face has been great and its been now 8 years. Worth it, i havent gotten any pimples since then. I do suffer from dry skin but so what. I changed my diet and started to exercise just to make sure i wouldnt get all the side effects.
I also took it when I was 13 & it really did turn my skin around for the better. The side effects can be really bad but I only experienced the more minor commone ones like dry skin, dry eyes, & bad night vision. The only long-term side effect was that I feel like the pill permanently worsened my night vision.
I had horrible acne before I took it & it runs in my family so my mom thankfully knew it was only going to get worse (I always felt like i'd look like Edward James Olmos later in my life). We tried a bunch of other creams/gel prescriptions before she put me on the accutane & nothing worked until that. I'd recommend getting a few big bottle of some really creamy thick lotion & thick chapstick when you start it- those saved my sanity while I was on it- nothing worse than dry, flaky, itchy skin- I think I used Olay Quench lotion as it seemed to be the only one that kept my skin hydrated all day.
Also, make sure you're going to your doctor for the monthly blood tests- if anything goes wrong they should be able to catch it on the blood test before it becomes serious. Once I was completed the regiment my skin was super clear until I got off BC about 2 years ago (so roughly 10years). Even now it's still nowhere near as bad as it was before the accutane & is really only noticeable when I'm near my flow.
It sounds scary with all the stuff you have to read/sign off on to take the pills but most people don't really have too many issues with it. Oh, I don't know if it matters to you or not but you will be unable to give blood until, I believe, a year after you are off the pill... Wishing the best of luck in your decision!
I was on Accutane years ago in high school before the bad side effects were well known. It worked amazingly for me and now 10 years later I have none of the side effects. I was also on the swim team at the time so it really dried my skin out but it was nothing a little moisturizer and chapstick couldn't fix. If I had to do it again I absolutely would- I've always had bad skin and it made me feel so much more confident and pretty (as silly as it sounds, I think anyone with acne can understand those feelings) . I wish you the best of luck and hope your skin looks amazing on your wedding day :)
@DomesticDiva: I have tried just about everything topical. I haven't tried the Aczone, but I have been on Duac which I believe is similar (also an antibiotic, but with benzoyl peroxide.) I have been on Retin A Micro several times. It works beautifully for a couple weeks, and then gives me painful eczema-like symptoms all over my face, which end up looking worse than the acne.
Unfortunately, that's pretty typical for me. I've had success with topicals ONLY in the short term. It's really stubborn. :(
I suffered from acne for 12 years (5th grade through senior in college) before I finally decided to go on Accutane. My skin was so oily it looked like I was sweating a few hours after applying makeup, umm gross! While on the medicine I really didn't have any side effects. It made my skin go from super oily to normal, I was already addicted to chapstick lol, and I saw no difference in the moisture of my eyes (I wear contacts). Oh! and it cleared up my acne ;)
The only annoying thing is that you have to get blood work and a pregnancy test done every month, as well as see your dermatologist every month. So the costs can add up. You also have to login to this website (iPledge Program) and answer questions. They take this very seriously.
As for long term side effects, I've only been off for about 2 years but I haven't noticed any. I still get a few little breakouts every now and then but my acne is very stubborn haha.
Honestly, if you've tried every option (like I literally did) I would go for it.
I was on Accutane. I wish I would've gone on it sooner. NOTHING else worked. I am very happy that I went on it and have no regrets about taking it.
Side effects I experienced (all ONLY while on the medication, nothing lasting too long after getting off of it):
- dry lips (like sierra desert dry... you'll have to vaseline your lips and the inside of your nose constantly)
- small muscle tears (which they warned me about because I had prior surgery and am a martial artist) It wasn't that bad
- thin skin (easy tearing and bruising)
- bloody noses
And I can't remember anything really else. They started me off on low doses and built me up to a medium dose. There is no need to go on the high doses. I've been off the meds for years and no problems! And so happy that I'm not a scabby bleedy face freak anymore (my cystic acne would plate scab over and then randomly start bleeding... I looked like a monster from a horror movie)
@EffieTrinket: don't freak. i used it about 5 years ago and it is hands down the BEST thing i have ever done for my skin, and my self esteem. i didn't find the side effects that bad (drier skin - buy a humidifier for your bedroom for SURE, dryish eyes and lips)
yes, there are scary side effects, for some people, some times. that is like ANY medicine. don't let those tiny percentages scare you. be aware, but don't be afraid.
the way that my dermatoligist explained to it to me was - the people most likely to have side effects are the ones who don't follow the 'rules' and/or lie to their doctors. make sure that you are having the regular tests you need, and ask if you feel that it's not going the way it should.
buy a great moisturizer, lip balm and eye drops. those three things will likely be all the 'management' you need of your side effects. if you don't like it, you can always stop taking it.
also - remind yourself that this is a medicine. it's medicine that you will take for a short time which will likely make a drastic change in your skin for the rest of your life. for me, it was unbelievable. i would do it again in a heartbeat.
I took it in high school and had a very bad reaction to it after drinking alcohol. It actually put me in the hospital. (No one thought to tell me not to drink!) unfortunately I didn't get to finish it out so I did not see results. Other then that, I only had really dry lips/skin vehicle taking it.
After dealing with cystic acne for close to 20 years (yes, 20!) and trying every topical and antibiotic out there, I switched to a dermatologist that believed in Accutane, and prescribed it for me. I was 33. I did experience some side effects, but more along the lines of dry lips and mucous membranes (extremely dry nose). But that's about it. Each time I went in for an appointment we talked about my mental well-being, and whether I was feeling any of the possible emotional side effects. I can't remember how long I've been off of it, but it's been a LONG time, and I have great skin. Some scarring from the acne, but no more major zits.
After I completed treatment, I took my then 15 year-old son to this same dermatologist, who prescribed Accutane, and saw my son twice as often. The acne was no worse than mine; he just wanted to make sure that he was consistenly monitoring my son's emotional well-being. My son was another success story. He's now 21 (OMG) and has not had ANY problems with his skin, and does not have the scarring that I have to deal with.
@Kelly_mac: Fortunately they now realize that that's a bad interaction and warn people about it! Glad you wound up being OK, but that must have been terrifying.
I took it in high school and I'm so thankful I did! I rarely ever break out now, when I do it's minimal and one zit somewhere. Like someone else said, I took it when they were still testing it and had to complete surveys and what not. I had side effect but not horrible, just dryness. My lips cracked, nose was dry, and my face in general. I only took it for no more then 6months and that was enough!
@EffieTrinket: it makes sense, they both affect the liver....but I was 17 and tended not to use common sense! Lol. It's a bummer though, I've heard amazing things from people who have gone through the whole process!
If you want to talk about other possible treatments that aren't drugs, PM me.
I took it when I was probably 13 or 14. I LOVED it. It made my skin perfect...poreless, even. I've been off of it for sometime now, and I'd say I have normal skin these days. I stlil have to wear makeup daily because of scarring I had prior to Accutane. I'm working on fixing that though.
I get pimples from time to time, but only one or two. My pores went back to being visable, haha. I think it was so worth it. I never had any side effects, except dry skin.
I took Accutane in my late 20s and would do it again. Now in my 40s I still use a retinoid (Tazorac) and get little breakouts every now and then but nothing like what I used to have. My dermatologist at the time tried every topical medicine on the market but nothing worked. He only put me on Accutane after he could find nothing else to work.
Have you tried oral antibiotics? They will help also.
I also took Accutane during my sophmore year of high school and it changed my life. Nothing else would work to clear up my skin and I often felt depressed because of it. My skin was almost completely cleared up within in a few months and years later at 23, absent minor period breakouts, my skin is still clear.
The only side effect that I noticed was very chapped lips while taking it. Best of luck!
My brother took accutane in high school. It worked amazingly for him but it did cause depression. He already suffered from depression and it made it worse. But he doesn't regret it because of how much his skin cleared up.
Accutane is only for severe acne. If yours is not severe, I would recommend going another route.
@EffieTrinket: I did an 8 month round of it about 3 years ago and here's my takeaway:
- it was THE BEST thing I ever invested in for my body and mental health. I know that depression is listed as a possible side effect, but I experienced the opposite.
- it does take time, and it is very extreme so the dry lips, scalp, skin will seemingly happen overnight, but the acne won't go away overnight. It took until about month 4 or 5 until I started seeing drastic results.
- some people require more than one round of it, and after using it your skin may respond better to topical treatments ( OTC acne meds or prescription such as Retin-A)
- your skin feels paper thin while on it so waxing isn't recommended until you're done. This part was hard for me because I look like a caveman if not waxed but I found that removal creams that specifically had aloe in them didn't irritate and did the job OK. The minute I was cleared for waxing though, I was all over it again.
- I do have a dry spot at the base of my scalp that sometimes gets irritated since taking it, but nothing a little extra t-Zone shampoo can't fix.
I say do it! Best decision for my skin and now I'm considering having some peels done to smooth out some of the scarring damage done before Accutane.
@EffieTrinket: Take a deep breath. I had horrible acne for years and nothing topical had ever worked for me. It sounds like we had similar experiences with other treatments so I understand your frustration with that.
I avoided Accutane like the plague for YEARS until I finally plucked up the courage to try it out. I was terrified of the drug and the possible side effects because they make it a point to tell you how severe they can be. That being said, I am SO glad I did it. My course of treatment was 6 months and, even though it wasn't always easy, I would do it again in a heartbeat. I had really dry skin on my face and lips, dry scalp, dry hair, and I couldn't wear my contacts. Outside of those (which were sometimes difficult to manage), everything was completely fine.
I was 20-21 when I took Accutane and now I'm 26. I get MAYBE one teeny-tiny red spot per month, usually when Aunt Flow is about to make her appearance. I know it's scary, but it was one of the better decisions I've made. It might help you put your mind at ease if you told a few friends to keep an eye on you and make sure your demeanor doesn't change, seeing as you seem worried about the mental side effects.
Lastly, here is a pic of me on my wedding day back in May of this year. I'm wearing makeup (obivously), but this picture is otherwise un-altered. Worth. It.
My brother is part of the lawsuit against accutane. He developed Crohn's after two cycles of accutane. He had to have multiple surgeries to remove sections of inflamed intestines and blockages. Years later he is finally on a life-long medicine to manage his Crohn's.
I only did one cycle and became very depressed, lost all libido, testy 24/7, and permanently dry skin. I go through a tube of blistex medicated chapstick every month. I also have digestive issues and was recently tested for Crohn's (negative). Also I STILL HAVE ZITS. The doctor recommended a second cycle but my mental health and skin couldn't handle it. I took the pills religiously without error.
@EffieTrinket: Family members of mine have Crohn's disease. It's unpleasant, and requires lots of surgery at its worst. Think about quality of life.
I'd personally rather deal with some blemishes if that meant the rest of me wasn't physically limited. What's the use of having clear skin if you're constantly miserable, taking care of colitis?
What else have you tried? My skin was to the point that he wanted to put me on accutane but like you, I was scared of the side effects. I decided to try one last thing. Retin A along with a drug called spironolactone. it's the first and only thing that's ever worked for me. I was suffering from hormonal acne the spironolactone helps to balance your hormones so you won't break out anymore. The retin a helps your skin to renew the cells to reveal new, clear skin. I will be honest, it takes some patience. But after 3 or 4 months, my face was completely Clear. It's def worth a shot. Go to acne.org, there's tons of reviews for both products. Good luck!
I took it for maybe 3 years in my early twenties (I just turned 30). I had tried everything topical on the market and nothing worked, accutane was my last resort. It worked well for me and I had pretty mild side effects. The only problems I had while I was on it was my scalp got dry and was always itchy, and my body hair started coming in really dark (except for my arms). I always had really light hair on my legs and and little blonde hairs on my toes, but after I took accutane, it came in black and still does. My scalp didn't stay dry though, maybe for a year or so after I stopped taking it, but that went back to normal.
My skin still breaks out now, but not like it used to. It goes through phases which is probably hormonal. Most of the time it's pretty good with minor pimples or none at all. I used to have them all over, so it's definitely an improvement.
@EffieTrinket: Ugh, I'm sorry. That is so frustrating. :( But I totally know what you mean when you talk about trying so many things.
I cannot tell you how many facewashes, moisturizers, OTC acne treatments (all sorts of salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide combos), prescribed acne treatments and pills (spironolactone, which I didn't take for long due to being wary of side effects, but they are definitely less scary than Accutane's, and tetracycline) and shitty fads (Proactiv, anyone?) I've tried.
My acne has always been better when I've been on birth control, too. I'm on monophasic BC - Gildess/Junel/Loestrin (all the same thing). Though, I suspect you have already traversed that avenue if you have already tried everything!
My husband was on acutane in high school. No long term side effects. He still has some skin issues but it's totally unrelated to acutane and more of a "he's had a bad diet for a while & bad skin care regimen." Otherwise, he has great skin.
@EffieTrinket: I took Accutane in middle school after having TERRIBLE skin for a long time and trying other things :) I do warn you that this is not something you want to be taking on your wedding day. For nearly the entire duration of taking it, your skin will be EXTREMELY dry. Your lips might crack at the edges, creating red sores. I swear, I looked like I had a clown face for a while :P
But, a couple of months after it was all over, my skin was the most amazing skin ever...and it still is. I never break out. Ever. And I have no digestive issues because of it.
ETA a pic of my skin now since others did ;)
(And I used to have acne on my chest, face, back...ALL the places! I was one GIANT pimple)
There are so many other medications you can go on... Retin-A is excellent and you probably need an antiboitic.
@EffieTrinket: I took it about 10 years ago. My skin was amazing!!! It went to about 70% amazing within a few years of going off. I started using retin a about 6 years ago and I love it! My skin is crystal clear And wrinkle free. My derm friend says that's the #1 best anti-wrinkle product out there.
All that to say: you will be just fine on the accutane. I went off after 5 mos due to extremely dry lips that cause me to get recurring cold sores (i already had gotten them, this was just excessive). That's the only side effect I had.
To the posters suggesting to try other methods before Accutane, it is always a last resort due to the side effects. I've been to and have been under the care of several dermatologists, and none of them jumped to Accutane without first prescribing a topical treatment + oral antibiotic treatment. Unfortunately, many of those products do not work for everyone and more drastic measures have to be taken.
@Rubbs: I'm on Retin-A right now, and it gives me what can best be described as eczema. The skin gets slightly raised, and starts to come off in scales. I totally agree- it works great! There's no acne after a little while, but the scaling patches make me look diseased rather than just unsightly. Plus the skin flakies get in my hair and on my shirts. I think I've tried it about 4 times now, and after this I am pretty sure I am just going to give the leftovers to a buddy who uses it for wrinkles.
As for antibiotics, they worked pretty well, too. My skin was always clear while on them. Unfortunately, every type I take causes either horrible stomach upset, yeast infections, or both. It's so bad that I pretty much have to be knocking on pneumonia's door before I will go to the doctor when I'm sick, because I know they will usually give me a Z-pack or doxycycline, and severe stabbing pain and monistat purchases will follow. It sucks. That was a really cheap treatment, too.
@inky_1: & @MrsCarnival: Your skin is so beautiful! I would have never suspected that you had ever had bad skin at all. Did either of you do any sort of microdermabrasion or resurfacing?
@EffieTrinket: Nope :) Sometimes I don't even take my makeup off. LOL.
My skincare routine now consists of me splashing some water on my face in the shower.
I don't know if this is an issue, but some reports show that it affects the ability to become pregnant. A family friend had I believe 2 rounds (though it may have been 3), and while they couldn't completely say infertility was due to the Accutane - they have yet to find anything else. I know that's extreme and doesn't happen to everyone, just something to consider!
I actually wanted to take it and my skin isn't even that bad, apparently, since I was immediately denied. Good luck with whatever you choose!
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