This is going to be long.
If I had to describe Accutane with one word, I would choose the word "intense." I went on it in high school around the age of 15, almost 16. I had been struggling with my skin for a few years by then. My problems were relatively mild but very, very persistent. I had oily, extremely sensitive, dehydrated (I didn't realize this at the time, I thought i was only oily), flaky skin. I was prone to getting lots of little pimples all over my face, with always one big sore pimple right before my TOTM (well, I guess some things never change, lol). My mom and my dermatologist were stumped at this point, since we had tried almost everything to clear my skin at that point. I had tried topicals like Differin, Retin-A, and some kinds of anti-bacterial acne creams, and the standard BP and salicylic acid treatments. They all, no matter what I did, either didn't work or they burned my skin. Sometimes BOTH. I even once had a teacher at school blurt out something about how my skin looked raw and didn't I want some lotion?? I was mortified at the time but now I realize, looking back, she was legit concerned because my skin WAS raw and it did hurt. I also was taking antibiotics for a long time, to no avail.
So anyway, I was getting to the point where I was running out of options. Although, strangely, no one ever mentioned BC pills or Spiro, I think because my acne wasn't following a hormonal pattern. Also, at this point, I was desperate for SOMETHING to work. I didn't even want perfect skin, I just wanted "nice" skin. I would have settled for "skin that's not on fire and peeling off and also bumpy with a layer of grease." My dermatologist finally threw up her hands and agreed to let me try Accutane. She warned me about side effects, my mom worriedly did research, but they did let me try it.
I was also warned that it would get worse before it would get better. For some strange reason, maybe because my acne wasn't very "deep" and mostly concentrated on the surface, it got better almost overnight. In fact, the morning when I woke up, after taking my first dose the night before, my skin was a little clearer. I swear it. I was almost completely clear within a week. Of course, I was extremely dry, and slathering on lotion constantly. I actually loved having to use heavy creams, haha. It was a nice change of pace! Now, I ended up taking it for five months, even though I was clear so quickly. My dermatologist said that I need to still take the full course so that it would have a more permanent effect, instead of just clearing me for a short while.
I barely made it through the five months. It was actually supposed to be six, but I eventually just could not keep going with it. I experienced not only dry, peeling skin, but eczema-type problems (which I could manage with heavy creams) and dry lips, dry eyes, everything. My hair started falling out like crazy. It's still not as thick as it was before, even this many years later. I started getting these crazy nosebleeds, almost every day. My liver enzymes skyrocketed and actually scared my doctor. (They have since returned to normal-ish). But worst of all, was the profound, mind-bending depression. I actually didn't realize I was depressed at the time, which sounds crazy. The thing was, I thought that somehow I had just become aware of how bleak human existence is. In hindsight, I can see that Accutane definitely changed me in terms of my mental condition. But at the time, I just thought that things in my life had turned dark. True, It was winter when I was in the midst of it, it was literally dark all the time, plus it was high school and high school sucked for someone like me, who is introverted and kind of sensitive. But no, this was something different. I had crazy nightmares. I could hardly bear to speak to anyone. I almost jumped off a bridge, literally. The depression would come in waves and it stalked me like a shadow. I started seeing ghosts. I have always been sensitive to paranormal phenomena (I realize not everyone believes in that) but that stuff intensified so much and got so dark it was almost unbearable. I do think I had a predisposition towards it because I had been sort of moody before Accutane, and had a family history of depression, but it was like it flipped a switch.
Did it get better once I ended my course of Accutane? Yes and no. Yes because once I was off it, i did start to feel better. I also ended up going to therapy and treating my depression with medication, which helped IMMENSELY. But I also know that Accutane definitely changed my brain chemistry somehow and I've never been quite the same.
You might be surprised that I still gave it three stars after that ordeal. Well, I did because I think it DOES work. It did clear my acne, almost overnight. Was it worth it? I don't really think so, for me. I do think that there are people who are good candidates for it. People with cystic acne, people with acne that literally does not respond to anything else, people who scar easily, maybe. People with severe acne who DON'T have a history of depression. Even then, I think it's still worth it to explore whether food allergies are the culprits, or hormones, or even seasonal allergies (those make me break out, I've realized. Who knew?)
Now, years later, I can tell I have the exact same skin I had pre-Accutane. So, it did come back. However, now I know that topical acne treatments actually make me break out, harsh cleansers make me break out, and I have allergies and am sensitive to certain foods (DAIRY, namely.) I know now that my high school skin was caused by harsh treatments, drinking a glass of milk every day, stress, and my periods. No wonder it wouldn't clear up. So, if I could go back in time, I wouldn't have taken it, I don't think. I don't waste time regretting it, because I can't change the past. I do wish I could reach back in time and give 15-yr-old me a hug and tell her to be more gentle with
I had a night mare of using this product. Today marked my 107 days. But i am still breaking out. And my scars are so horrible. This is really disappointing and stressful. It supposed to be clear out by today. I am so regret for taking this pills as it made my skin much worse and horrible than before
They gave me this about 12 years ago and it caused liver and kidney issues (they normaled out after coming off the meds, Thank God!) It gave me migraine headaches, made me want to jump off a cliff and, in general, made me a different person. I realize this medicine has helped a lot of people but PLEASE be very careful and have your loved ones monitor you at all costs. It could be your undoing or it could be your savior. Just be so very careful. I simply can't stress that enough.
Obviously Accutane isn't for the faint of heart, but for me, it was a great solution and I wish I had taken it 5-10 years earlier. I always had very mild acne, but after coming off birth control, my skin just went absolutely crazy and refused to calm down. 4.5 months of Accutane took care of everything nicely. I was lucky enough to find a doctor who was willing to try a low dose (1st month @10 mg, 2nd month @ 20 mg, 3rd & 4th month @ 30 mg). The side effects were def rough, the worst of which for me was the fatigue and mild case of melancholy/anti-socialness (I wouldn't classify it as depression), which given the line of work I'm in, definitely made it difficult to show up to work at times. I had minimal initial breakout, some mild chapping towards the end, and some mild joint aches. It was all worth it in the end, and 4 weeks after I was done, I felt 100% myself again and even better. 9 months after Accutane, my skin is still perfect (fingers crossed) though I continue to maintain a strict anti-acne regimen that has worked for me. Between Accutane and lasik, these have been two of the best things I've ever done for myself.
I've taken it twice; the first time for 3 months@ a low dose, and then 1.5 yrs later I was put on a 6 month course (40mgs a day). I'm pretty sure it came back after the first time due to hormones and wellbutrin (for some reason wellbutrin makes me super oily+ anxious which results in acne for me). It's only been a couple months since I finished my last course but both times it did exactly what it was supposed to do, which is clear my acne. It also seems to make my skin all glowy and gorgeous---I had no flaking whatsoever thanks to La Roche Posay's "Effaclar H Compensating Soothing" moisturizer.... Anyways, it's not going to be a cure for most women because women have fluctuating hormones, but it should be able to clear you while you're on it so that you can get control of your skin.
I think it's important to realize that acne is basically an infection in the skin and once it starts getting out of control it can take FOREVER to get rid of, no matter what you're using to treat it. There is definitely no secret cure. Accutane is a slow working medication that needs to build up for months in your body before it works so if you're reading this and you have bad acne don't just sit back and wait for your acne to get even more out of control while you experiment with silly DIY treatments and accumulate more and more acne scars (you won't notice them till months later but when you do you will regret wasting time!). Taking care of yourself and being consistent with your treatments or demanding new ones from your dr if they aren't working can save you from so much grief!
I would also say that even if you go on accutane you will need to make some lifestyle changes if you want to keep your face clear. Im not talking about drinking more water (though this med really does dehydrate you); i'm talking about taking birth control, spiro, eating healthier, changing your face products or even just being more sanitary (like not using jarred products or washing your hands more).
I've also read a lot of crazy things about this med online--but my advice to the people considering this med is to ignore all of this hype and listen to their own freaking dr. I wish I had! In the beginning of both my courses there were so many times that I almost stopped taking it due to some supposed side effect that I felt like I was experiencing---in fact it's why my first course was only low dose and 3 months long. This makes me sad now cause after 6 months on it I feel a lot more familiar with the side effects and I realize now that most of what I was feeling was due to my own anxiety. Don't listen to all the crazy people online. I always worried that I would be left with leathery prematurely aged and perpetually dry skin or worse, crohns disease, but nope, my skin looks better than yrs ago and I've had no issues with my stomach once I stopped worrying about it. I think the anxiety people get about taking this medication can be worse for them than the actual medication itself. If you're not stable and in a good place mentally you might want to consider a different treatment.
Accurate made my face so smooth and beautiful! I actually took it twice. The first time I was 17 and the course lasted 5 months. I then started basic training a few months later and my breakouts started up again! I took it again when I was 21. Once again my face was beautiful and smooth. This time my lips peeled off about 10 times and 5 shades lighter. I also developed light spots (that eventually went away) on my legs. About 7 months later the breakouts started again. I must say that I never had cystic acne. I had persistent acne that was unresponsive to retin-a and antibiotics. Overall I think it worked well, but it is not an end all cure for acne.
Please do extensive research before taking this drug! It has dangerous side effects and simply DOESN'T WORK FOR EVERYONE! I took this drug 25 years ago as a teen with moderate acne. There was absolutely no improvement in my skin and I chose to reject a second course. Over the next few years as I moved into my twenties my skin improved gradually until I was about 23 and then I broke out terribly with cystic acne - I had never had that before! I had to deal with it for a couple more years and now at age 43 I am still dealing with awful scars and undergoing laser treatments and all sorts of stuff to improve the scars. I am convinced this drug left something in me to cause the cystic acne breakouts in my twenties and would not recommend it to anyone.
As a previous poster mentioned I had body aches, mental health issues and excruciatingly painful trips to the emergency room with nonstop vomiting and fevers for no apparent reason. I did not attempt sucide but was definitely on a mission to kill myself by self medicating... And i became an absolutely different person. It is scary when I even think about it, but yeah this is what Accutane did for me, turn my life into a nightmare. Only by some miracle I hit rock bottom and got my life back together but only after someone grabbed me by the shoulders and said "you are going to die if you don't stop doing this to yourself." There's not a day I don't miss the person I used to be, but having clear skin will never be worth the life I threw away. I have had to pick up from where I left off before taking Accutane... I don't even know why this stuff is legal.
I took this drug when I was 13, my acne wasn't severe, but it was quite bad. Sure I had side effects (dry, cracking lips, dry eyes, sore joints etc) and yes I was moody, but sure you can expect that from this type of medication. I'm sure there's people who are more susceptible to side effects and they should definitely consult their dermatologist. Personally I'm so glad I was able to take this because I'm so much happier with my skin and for me it was a positive experience.
i took Accutane while i was in highschool and had i known then what i now know at 24, i would not take that crazy medication again. pretty much all of the 'possible side effects', including a suicide attempt, happened to me. i will never again dis-regard a medications 'possible side effects'.
yes, it cleared my pimples up. but at what cost?
i became such a crazy, emotional mess while on this stuff and my body felt so terrible. the dry skin and lips is one thing, applying moisturizers and blistex medicated lip balm religiously, seriously. like every half hour. but when i would get into bed at night my whole body (it felt like all my bones) were so sore that i had to slowly 'ease' myself into a relaxed position laying down... i don't quite know how to explain it. like instead of just getting into bed and laying down as per usual (i didn't even think about this until i couldn't do it any more!) i had to slowly allow my body to adjust to the new position. i remember not being able to bend down from the waist/lower back to get things from the bottom shelf in our pantry, i felt like a 17 year old in a ninety year olds body! so sore. i also noticed more hair loss than usual while taking accutane.
then my moods! i would snap at a drop of a hat. get angry or be a crying mess over things that shouldn't and didn't really matter. i also became very depressed. it must have been a few months into the treatment that my family and boyfriend of a few years were asking me to please consider stopping the medication as they were having a hard time recognizing the person they loved, my moods were that outta control.
i ended up in the hospital emergency room one night because i got upset over something trivial and decided it would be a great idea to kill myself by overdosing on some pills in my parents house. yea, like i said, c r a z y.
my doctor should have got me off those things right away but i was young and dumb and caught up in the pursuit for perfection and begged him not to take me off of them so he agreed but only if i would see a councillor. so i finished out the course of treatment with no further suicide attempts.
my body is still unusually achy, my joints and bones.
i actually ended up in the hospital a few years back with a crazy high fever (i was hallucinating) and pain so sever in my lower back, around my tailbone region, that i could not stop crying until they injected me with morphine. they figured it was an infection but could not determine what it was exactly, even though they took my blood every day for a week, ran urine test, ultra sounds, cat scans... you name it. they called me "their mystery case"..... i can't help but wonder if accutane might have had something to do with it, even being years later after getting off the drug as it came completely out of the blue to an otherwise generally healthy body.
if you are considering this drug, accutane, i would strongly urge you to put the time and effort in to other safe, natural, and much more effective methods of controlling your skin problems. because really, accutane is a quick fix that wreaks havoc on your precious body without getting to the root of the imbalances in your body. we seem very fond of these 'quick fix methods' here in the west.
i would suggest a diet over-haul, eat tons of fresh (organic when possible!) veggies and fruits....cut down on dairy products or other things that throw you out of balance. ex cerise regularily! DRINK A TON OF WATER ALL DAY, EVERY DAY..... and for skin scare, less is really more. use gentle products, hell, i don't even use any 'products' any more!
i use water to wash, sometimes i'll lather my face up with my natural bar of body soap (it's made my sea wench naturals on a tiny island just off of vancouver island, check em out online!) in the shower if i feel like it needs a wash but most days i just splash it with water at the sink. i then use organic cold-pressed coconut oil for moisturizer (face, body, and hair!) or if i'm on the prairies during the winter and my skin is really dry a cold pressed olive oil. tea tree oil takes care of any blemishes (you can make a toner by mixing it with water or just dab it straight on a spot and it usually takes care of it over night) and i have started to dabble with bragg's apple cider vinegar mixed with water on my face in the evenings and like it thus far.... i was using it as a hair rinse already (SO GOOD! makes my hair so soft and shiny!) and i noticed that when i got it on my body while doing my hair rinse thing, my skin really seemed to love it!
just google oil cleansing methods if you feel like you really need to 'clean' your skin. i did oil cleansing a few years ago but have since stopped as my skin does much better when i just leave it be. google coconut oil skin care and hair care. olive oil (makes my eyelashes grow so thick!) ... grapeseed oil.. jojoba oil... google apple cider vinegar uses for your self care! it's really neat using completely edible and yummy products on your body and it really cuts down on the money you spend. i used to have boxes and boxes of products and makeup... now i have a few bottles and jars of my oils, one bar of soap, and rarely do i ever wear makeup! i look amazing when i wake up, no more 'putting on a face' before facing the world and it feels greeeeeat!
it's more work to get to the root of the problem, but you're whole body will start to glow and show the inner beauty and care you put in! i am now honoring mother nature by surrendering to the body's natural processes, including aging, with GRACE ; )
good luck guys!