T Nation

Should I Do Accutane?


#1


Im 16 and have had acne for about 5 years. One year ago my acne got much worse and I went to a dermatologist for the first time and he prescribed 2 creams and an antibiotic pill. The acne on my face did improve somewhat but the acne on my back an shoulders did not improve much. The dermatologist has not given me any new medicine since then for some reason, even though the medicine he gave me didn't completely work. Now that we are nearing beach season I am becoming increasingly conscious of the acne on my back. I have been aware of the dangers of accutane for quite a while, however, I just recently have had the desire to take it. As I've researched it more, it actually seems less "scary" than sometimes portrayed. I'm not at all worried about the the dryness, depression etc. I do have a few questions though.

  1. About how long after starting the pills does the "Initial Breakout" occur? How long does it last? How much worse does it actually make your acne?
  2. How will affect my lifting and sports (football and lacrosse) I've heard it can cause joint pain.
  3. Ive tried many things and nothing has worked. Photos are attached. Do you think I should take accutane?

P.S. I would have just asked all of this to my dermatologist, but I'd have to pay for an appointment and he's kind of a weird guy lol.


#2

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#3


I was under the impression you could no longer get Accutane? If you can, it certainly can help you immensely.

That picture is me, before I went to the dermatologist for the first time, at 14. They did the same thing for me they did for you: antibiotics and creams. That helped with the really gross stuff, the stuff that's below the surface, but like you, I still had bad skin. Never had it anywhere but my face. They kept giving me different doses of the same shit, until, after three years, my mom asked them about accutane (I had never heard of it.)

I started taking it my senior year of high school. As they said might happen, it improved my acne a LOT at first. Then it got bad. I don't remember the timeline exactly (it's been almost four years now), but it definitely went back to normal, and then worse than it had been, for a while, and it is extremely frustrating.

While I would definitely recommend it as a solution, let me tell you that you really can't understand the side effects until you take it. And they are different for everyone. They're not making up the risk of depression and various mental health issues. There is a definite correlation. Personally, I never got depressed, but I think it messed with my head some. I started feeling very aggressive, I had a very short fuse, and I found myself thinking about violence at the most random and inappropriate times. It was weird.

If your experience is like mine, and other people I know who have taken it, you are NOT ready for the dryness. If you use chapstick now, you know that you spread it around a couple times, and you're good. It works for the first few months on Accutane. After that, I could have used an entire tube of chapstick on my lips, and it wouldn't have done a thing. They get incredibly dry. My skin dried out a little bit too, but it was nothing lotion couldn't help.

But your lips...oh man. After chapstick becomes useless, you have to start using vaseline. I was carrying around tubes of Aquaphor everywhere I went. It is messy, it stains, and it is very hard to wash off your hands or the surrounding skin that you will inevitably cover in this shiny vaseline shit. People will think you're wearing lip gloss, and you will look ridiculous. But you'll be miserable without it.

In the middle of my treatment, where the dose was the highest (they build up the dosage, then taper it off), my nose started getting dry. After a few weeks, I started getting random nosebleeds in the middle of class. I'd just be sitting there, not touching my nose, blowing it, or anything, and blood would just start dripping out. After that, I had to put vaseline in my nose too, to stop it from bleeding.

You can't drink alcohol when you're on it. At all. Ever You have to eat every time you take a dose, and it has to be something with fat in it. You have to get blood work done every month, and if anything comes back that is too concerning, they won't refill your prescription. Oh and you can't eat for like twelve hours before getting the work done. I'm sure they've told you about a lot of this.

The reason I'm being so dramatic and negative is that you don't seem to think that the side effects are very serious, and that attitude makes me think you also might not take all of the instructions as seriously as your dermatologist. I was lucky, I had a pretty mild experience, and I followed all the rules to the letter. I know people whose skin got HORRIBLE while they were on it. It just fucked them up so much before it got better. And all the risks they talk about, while possibly uncommon, are still real.

Also, if you're not serious about doing it the right way, consistently, you're probably wasting your time and money. I knew a kid who was on it, who sometimes missed doses, drank alcohol in excess, and was generally just laid back about it. I found out he was on it because I saw he had Aquaphor too. He had been on it longer than me, and you couldn't tell, because his skin hadn't improved at all. He still has bad skin today, years later.

All that being said, it was the best choice I ever made, and I wish I had known about it sooner. The time I was on it was pretty miserable, and I wondered if I'd ever actually look normal, but, for me, it was a miracle drug. I'll post a current picture in the next post, so you can see what my skin is like today.


#4

This is from a couple years ago, after I had been done with Accutane for about a year. The most I ever get is the occasional small pimple, other than that, my skin is great. Not model flawless or anything, but nobody thinks I have bad skin any more. Also, your lips will probably be permanently dry (totally worth it, in my opinion). I always have chapstick with me, never leave home without it, and apply it many times a day. It has gotten a little better with time. However, as an example, my mom's husband took Accutane way back when he was 18 or so, and he still carries around chapstick everywhere he goes, using it multiple times a day.


#5

I took accutane when I was 16 for about a year. It made my skin really dry and reddish. After I got off of it most of the blemishes were really gone. I didn't know they had all these crazy side effects 14 years ago, but I never really had any problems with it. I must say, my self esteem vastly improved when I got off of it and my skin was clear. I just use proactiv now to keep the few blemishes away.


#6

Worked for me. Dont take the side effects lightly, and if you drink on it, pick out a gravestone. Im not kidding.


#7

Worked for my son. But about 4 months after his cycle, his breakouts returned (although not as bad as before).


#8

I tried it and it cleared me up OK. But I had a pretty bad case of acne, yours doesnt seem as bad - especially considering you are still 16.

I'd say take it if you're really getting frustrated with your skin. But if I were you, I would probably wait it out a little since you are pretty young.

You mentioned sports, and I did experience some problems (mainly aches and pains) in my joints and it is a common side effect of the drug. But I wasn't playing at a competitive level so I could afford to take it easy with the occasional soccer match with mates.

It's gonna come down to how bad you would want to fix up your skin vs. the shit that you would have to put up with (all the dryness etc. mentioned above). If you are worried about not looking good at the moment, you will defineately look worse/have more shit to deal with while on the Accutane before it gets better.


#9

Not worth the health risks IMO, I took a lot of different stuff in high school for my acne (OTC and prescribed) and nothing seemed to help. After high school, the acne went away. I took Accutane for a few weeks and had the worst stomach pains. I stopped taking the pills and the pains went away. As you get older, your acne will most likely clear itself up. Nowadays, I hardly get any pimples. Maybe 1 or 2 small ones per month if that.

You may not have access to this, but going to the beach clears up my skin like nothing else. The combo of saltwater and sun is magical.


#10

I did a 20 week run of it when I was 16. I had horrible acne and it was starting to progress into the deep, scarring variety, so we decided to go ahead and pull the trigger with the Accutane.

1) It WORKS. I have maybe 3 pimples on my face per year now.
2) It SUCKS while you're on it. You will never, ever, under any circumstance, encounter dry skin like you will have on accutane. I carried a 24 oz bottle of lotion around in my backpack while I was on it. As you can imagine, that went over like a fart in church with the rest of my 11th grade classmates. It was embarrassing, but after leaving the lotion at home for one day, I decided that the embarrassment was way better than my arms cracking open and bleeding in class.

You mentioned beach season: don't even think of spending time out in the sun if you're on it, that will be the absolute worst sunburn you will ever get. From first hand experience, it will hurt so bad that you want to peel your skin off, while simultaneously freaking out because your skin is actually peeling itself off.

3) I didn't get the "big breakout" that you hear some people talk about, but my skin was pretty much always falling off when I was on it, so I might have and just couldn't tell because I was a fucking whole-body dandruff factory the whole 5 months. I didn't get the depression, either, but it did make me more irritable and I got into a couple of pretty nasty fist fights while I was on it.

4) Don't get it twisted, Isotretinoin is a fuckin' DRUG. It was developed as chemotherapy drug for pancreatic and brain cancer. I don't know if you know anyone who's gone through chemotherapy, but if you do, ask them. They'll tell you that the drugs are worse than the cancer itself. Accutane is no exception, it's incredibly harsh. There's evidence now that it can cause irritable bowel disease and Crohn's, in addition to the birth defects, depression, etc. that we've known about for years.

If I had to go back and do it over again, I don't know if I would or not. It fixed my acne and fixed it permanently (8 years now, no recurrence), but the experience was heavy enough that I definitely would not rush into any decision about taking it again, and would advice anyone else who is considering it to really be sure that it's something they want to do.


#11

i took accutane in highschool, cleared me up some but turns out i have some time of rosacea so i still have the occasional breakout depending on my diet. i dont remember much from my accutane cycle but i can tell you to NOT pick at the back acne i no longer have backne but i still have scaring from my teenage years and im 28


#12

I would exhaust alternative options first.

There are some articles on this site about inflammatory foods. A lot of dermatologists are told that acne isn't at all about diet - but they are wrong! Things like corn and other vegetable oils can be inflammatory. Some people (but not all) find dairy to be inflammatory. Gluten. I'd try really cleaning up your diet for a month (greatly reducing or eliminating those foods) eating lots of fresh veges and drinking lots of water and seeing whether that makes a difference for you. Take fish oil if you don't already.

If those measures don't help then it may well be worth trying accutane. You might be surprised to discover that you are simply very intolerant to one or all of the above, though.

I started on a course but didn't finish it. Not because of bad side-effects, I just really really suck at taking medication. My skin is as bad as it was (not too bad but just occasionally I get a deep cyst that won't clear and I've needed plastic surgery to remove one from my face which didn't thrill me greatly). I'm noticing now that vegetable oils aren't well handled by me (potato chips being the biggest culprit lolz). The dryness was intense. Vaseline up the nose to prevent nosebleeds kind of dryness. Going through whole tubs of lotion and it not really feeling like it was making a difference. Also a bit of a buzzed or wired feeling... Agitation? Something like that. A little buggy eyed... Some difficulty sleeping... Tender burny feeling skin, too. Not a decision to be made lightly. But really very effective so far as treatments go. IF your body can tolerate it.


#13

My acne started in my early 20s, not in my teenager ages and nothing seemed to help. Creams, more creams, some alcohol based cotton stuff...
Then I tried tetracycline and it was perfect, but I couldn't take that for longer than one year and as soon as I stopped taking the pills, acne was coming back stronger than ever, so I took another cycle until I moved away from my country and new dermatologist said she couldn't give me more, so I went for Accutane.

I'm glad I took it because my acne was very annoying. Sometimes I couldn't even munch properly because I had pimples around my mouth and they were like "pulling" my skin. However, since I took it, September '09, I have random fatigue "attacks" which last for a week or so. They happen every two months or so and right now I have one.

Besides that, side-effects during the treatment were not so bad except I had to take some product for my liver, because some enzymes levels were too high. Dry skin and mucus, random headaches, etc.

You are very young, so I think you can wait. Accutane is also damn expensive.

EDIT : Call it coincidence, but having a fatigue "attack" now and you posting this thread...I'm going to visit my dermatologist and see if I can get different tests about my fatigue. It's very annoying.


#14

+1

Cut out refined sugar for a month or so and see if that helps. Figuring out you food sensitivities may help you out, if not with the acne,
it CERTAINLY is going to help with overall health!


#15

Accutane is heavy shit. I'm going to add to what eeu said. Your lips and nose get very dry and joint pain is not uncommon. Here in the UK it's a last resort, you have to see a dermatologist and it takes 3 months normally to be referred. And yep you need a full triglycerides/liver functions blood examination every month.

What other medication are you on? There's oxytetracycline, erythromycine and lymecycline, none of which worked for me but a lot of friends had success with. Also isotrenoin gel (accutane gel) works nicely as well


#16

NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!

Sorry but got to get your attention. Do not take this stuff. The side effects are awful but thats not why I say this. They're temporary.

Whats not temporary is how much it will compromise your long term health. That stuffs been linked with loads of horrid diseases including various cancers.

I was on the stuff a lot as a teen and now I have a rare cancer with unknown causes. Of which studies are now showing accutane is often correlated with.


#17

LOW-DOSE Accutane is the way to go.

I self-administered myself with it for 4 months, and I had some pretty horrible acne. It started at 15 or 16, and carried on into my early 20's. I waited way too long to bite the bullet and get it done.

Doctors will normally do doses of 40-80mg, which is WAY too high. There is no need for that, and the side effects increase dramatically in those ranges.

10mg every day for 2 months, followed by 20mg ED for 2 months. 4 months later, the difference was astounding, and now 4 years later I'm still acne free (hardly even get spots at all any more).

Honestly, one of the best things I've ever taken.


#18

Sorry to hear you this.

What kind of doses where you on, and for how long did you take the stuff? How can you be sure it's definitely accutane related?

For other people, I believe accutane was originally developed as a chemo drug to treat cancer, but it was found to shrink oil glands and therefore became popular for acne treatment.


#19

used it, took a few weeks but it worked very well. it's worth getting. didn't really have any sides at all.


#20

Your acne is very minor. Try tanning.