Will Acne Return if I Stop Taking Accutane?

Im planning on ending Accutane, but I'm worried that I have become too dependent on it, and I'm worried that my acne will return. Are these possible?

Doctor Answers 10

Will your acne return after Accutane?

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Will your acne return after Accutane?  You have to wait and see.  The purpose of a course of Accutane is to potentially clear acne long-term.   This is the case for many patients- assuming they take a complete course of 1 mg/kg/day for 5-6 months.  For others, some acne may return but usually not as severe as before treatment.  A small number of patients need a second course of Accutane.  A smaller number do not respond at all.  Most patients get excellent results if not complete "cured" they are much better. 

New York Dermatologist

Will Acne Recur After Accutane

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The answer is a resounding "maybe" but highly unlikely as bad as before the Accutane.
My experience with over 30 years of Accutane is that many patients are almost totally clear of acne, but lots still get some lesions, just not the big cystic ones.

If you think of Accutane as a cure, you're headed for trouble.

With Accutane as well as any and all treatments, unrealistic expectations lead to anger and resentments.
Be sure you have an honest talk with your doctor about what to expect.  Ask all the questions you want until you feel satisfied and good about the choice of treatments.

Don't set yourself up for an unhappy result by worrying that the doctor is so busy that they don't have time to answer your questions...actually, if you feel rushed or don't feel your questions and time are respected, find another practitioner.   There are so many great doctors out there.

Michael A. Greenberg, MD
Elk Grove Village Dermatologist
4.9 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Acne is Tamed by Accutane

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I get respone rates close to 100% with Accutane.  By that I mean, that almost every patient is clear by the time they finish 6 months of Accutane.  And in most cases, the acne does not come back.  That does not mean you will never get another pimple for your entire life.  But most patients never go back to the severe acne that they had prior to treatment.

Who is at most at risk for their acne to recur after Accutane? 

Younger patients (16 years old and younger) are more likely to need a second course of Accutane. Perhaps because they have more teenage "acne years" ahead of them.

Females have higher recurrence rates than males (but still low).  Perhaps because of hormones.

Patients who do not get the correct total dose are more likely to relapse.  This includes both patients who have not achieved a high enough daily dose and those who ended treatment earlier than advised.

Todd Minars, MD
Miami Dermatologist

Will acne return after Accutane?

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Typically acne does not return after completing the full course. Of course, there are a couple of factors that can affect the outcome such as severity of acne, proper dosing, and patient compliance.

Joshua L. Fox, MD
Long Island Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 22 reviews

Accutane cures about 50% of patients

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In my experience and in studies, nearly 1/2 of patients do not have any significant return of acne after a proper course of Isotretinoin (Accutane).  The other 50% of patients eventually have some acne return, but rarely to the degree they had before.  About  1:20 patients eventually require another course of treatment.

To insure best results, a dosage goal of between 120-150mg/kg, given over 5-6 months, is most effective.  Be sure to be evaluated, and followed, by your Board Certified Dermatologist to obtain the best results for you.  It's a wonderful medicine!

Jeffrey C. Poole, MD
Metairie Dermatologic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Acne can return after Accutane

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In my experience only time will tell if your acne will return. Certainly your oil production will return, which is normal. Even if your acne does return it will never be as bad as it was before you used accutane. Some patients just have very stubborn acne. The good news is that most patients, if they take the full recommended course of accutane, will have excellent and lasting clearance of their acne. Hope this helps. Take care.

Daniel J. Ladd Jr., DO
Austin Dermatologist

Accutane and recurrent acne

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The chances of your accutane recurring and the degree to which it recurs depends on the cumulative dose of medication you received and on you as an individual. In people who undergo the full course, I have never seen acne returning to the degree of severity prior to taking the medication, so you should still have some long-term benefit. Stress and anxiety also contribute to acne so I hope you are able to put your worries aside. At worst, you may need to undergo another course.

Good luck.

Bryan K. Chen, MD
San Diego Dermatologist

Depends on Total Cummulative Dosage

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Studies have shown it is the total cummulative dosage that most influences whether your acne returns, other factors being equal. It is my experience that your acne is more likely to return if you had severe, recalcitrant acne at baseline. In that case about one third of patients require a second course.

If you were treated for six months at 1 mg./kg. your acne is less likely to return than 0.5 mg/kg. for five months...common sense.

I would not be overly stressed if you have a few new pimples off the Accutane. If you have had an uneventful course, you might need a second treatment, perhaps at a higher dose.

Arnold R. Oppenheim, MD
Virginia Beach Dermatologist

For most people acne does not return after accutane

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2 out of 3 people will not have acne issues after taking accutane appropriately. Some people may need to do an additional cycle of Accutane after completing the first one but this is not all that common. 

Sameer Bashey, MD
Beverly Hills Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Acne and Accutane Treatment

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Acne is influenced by genetic, hormonal, environmental, stress, and possibly even food related factors. Accutane can do little to treat any of these multifactorial causes. Thus, depending on your variant of acne, it is unlikely to 'cure' your condition. 

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 95 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.