What is Accutane?

You you explain this treatment and how it works?

Doctor Answers 6


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Accutane is an oral Acne medication, isotretinoin. It is mostly reserved for very severe cases of Acne because it has so many serious potential side effects. Most of these , fortunately, are uncommon. Accutane is the brand name for isotretinoin, just like "Band Aids" is the brand name for "adhesive bandages". Accutane is an excellent medication for treating severe cases of Acne. Severe acne cases are those that have failed traditional therapies for at least 6 months, have large painful or disfiguring lesions, large nodules or cystic lesions.

Most recently Accutane has been associated with depression, thoughts of suicide and even some reports of suicide. Most dermatologists do not feel there is a cause and effect however, there is an association and as such now dermatologists are required to inform their patients about this side effect before treating. Additionally, Accutane can affect many different body organs. Lastly, Accutane is a teratogen (can cause birth defects) so it is critical that females do not get pregnant while taking or for a few months following Accutane therapy. Thus, Accutane needs to be monitored closely with blood draws and doctor visits monthly.

West Palm Beach Dermatologic Surgeon

Accutane is oral vitamin A that can treat acne

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Accutane is a brand designation of a class of medication known as isotretinoin that has been a 'god sent' for suffers of acne. While it has several possible side effects including dry skin, mood changes, increased lipid profile, burdening liver function, and birth defect if pregnant while on medication, no other medication has approached the consistent efficacy of Accutane in calming down the most resistant acne. It currently has a federal registry called Ipledgeprogram where the pharmacist, doctor's office and the patient may have to do monthly online confirmation of compliance. See your local board-certified dermatologist to see if you are a good candidate for Accutane.

Accutane - our most effective acne treatment

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Accutane (Isotretinoin) is by far our most effective medicine for acne. It is mainly used for severe, resistant or persistent acne. Isotretinoin is derived from Vitamin A, which decades ago was a treatment for severe acne, but with a much higher safety profile.

While there are a host of potential side-effects that can occur, some serious, the vast majority of patients who take Accutane have only minor side effects. We expect all our patients to have fairly severe dry, chapped lips. Dry skin, nose, and eyes may also commonly occur, and some patients, especially those that are very active, may have some muscle soreness. Most other side-effects are quite unusual. The most serious side-effect is the potential for birth defects in women who take Accutane while pregnant. Because this side-effect is so serious, Accutane has become highly regulated by the Federal Government.

Make sure you have been seen and properly evaluated by a Board Certified Dermatologist to see if Accutane is right for you. Your Dermatologist will make sure you are properly informed about Accutane, and will monitor you for potential problems.

Of note, Accutane itself is no longer available, as all the "name brand generics" have taken over the market. These include Amnesteem, Claravis and Sortret.

Accutane is very effective when administered by a qualified professional

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Accutane is a vitamin A derivative that is a very effective treatment for severe cystic acne or for people who are not responding to other traditional acne medications. The typical course is between 5-6 months, requiring monthly visits to your dermatologist.

Side effects include dry lips, dry skin, dry eyes, muscle aches and pains, nose bleeds and risk of increased triglyceride or liver enzymes, sp proper monitoring is important. Although the most significant side effect may be the risk of sever birth defects, requiring women to use 2 methods of birth control, within one normal menstrual cycle long term risks of birth defects are not an issue. The FDA instituted the IPledge program within the last few years to more closely monitor this medication

Mona Salem Foad, MD
Cincinnati Dermatologist

Accutane treats severe cystic acne

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Accutane (isotretinoin) is a Vitamin A-based oral medication that is used to treat severe nodulocystic acne that has proven recalcitrant to other treatment modalities (i.e. topical medicaments, oral antibiotics etc.). Accutane is a highly effective treatment that can provide life-changing results.

It is important to note, however, that although this medication is very effective and generally well tolerated, there are numerous, potentially very serious side effects. As such, the implementation of Accutane (isotretinoin) as treatment for severe acne must be employed after careful consideration by both the prescribing physician and patient.

Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, MD
New York Dermatologic Surgeon

What is Accutane

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Accutane is a high-dose Vitamin A pill typically taken for approximately 6 months duration and can have outstanding results for deep or severe or chronic acne. It has been around since 1982 and more than 20 million people have taken it. I have had amazing results with Accutane, but it is a complicated medication with many potential side effects and the requirement of blood test monitoring. That said, when prescribed and monitored appropriately by a dermatologist, it can be a very safe and effective medication.

Benjamin Barankin, MD, FRCPC
Toronto Dermatologic Surgeon

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.