Clearing Up The Facts About How Accutane Works for Treating Severe Acne
Is Accutane Still Available To Treat Acne?
Yes (and No). Accutane is the brand name for the medication isotretinoin. Like all retinoids, it is a derivative of Vitamin A. The brand Accutane is no longer available, but there are multiple generic forms of isotretinoin on the market. We at Minars Dermatology in Hollywood, FL see no significant difference between these brands and consider them interchangeable.
When Do You Prescribe Isotretinoin (Accutane)?
It is typically the second-line treatment for severe or cystic acne that has not responded to other oral (or topical) forms of acne treatment. Sometimes it is our first choice for patients who seem to be at risk for acne scars, or for patients who come to us after having failed other treatments. Isotretinoin works by shrinking the oil glands in the skin that produce sebum. Sebum attracts bacteria that create acne.
Does Accutane Work? What Is Accutane Success Rate?
Accutane treatment has a high average success rate of around 85% for patients who complete the entire 6-month course. For patients with severe or cystic acne, a 6-month course of Accutane offers the best treatment to alleviate the symptoms of severe acne by slowing down the growth of skin cells that can clog pores.
To avoid really dry lips or any other discomfort, we start patients at a low dose and slowly increase each month until we get to the correct dose for their weight. We will also advise you to stay hydrated and to keep your skin well moisturized at all times.
Accutane Tips Video
How Much Does Accutane Cost?
The cost of Accutane treatments is typically covered by most health insurance. A patient simply has to pay their copay/deductible and then the actual treatment costs are covered by their insurance.
For self-pay patients who do not have health insurance coverage for Accutane treatments we typically charge our standard medical office visit fee of $250 for the first visit. Any subsequent follow-up visits during the six-month Accutane treatment course would cost $125. There is also the potential that a patient might need additional procedures like lab work or cortisone injections related to the acne treatment and these would be an additional charge.
Patients also need to be aware that they are responsible for the cost of the drug as well. The cost for Accutane or rather medication isotretinoin since the brand name Accutane has been discontinued ranges anywhere from $65-$400. At our Hollywood dermatology office, we typically refer our patients to our local pharmacy which currently charges $55 for 30 pills, although this price is always subject to change.
Accutane And Pregnancy
Women of child-bearing potential who take this drug must be on two forms of birth control (or completely abstinent), as it can cause severe birth defects if taken while pregnant. Most woman use 1- an oral contraceptive pill, and 2 – condoms as their two forms of birth control.
The iPledge system is a mandatory registry that all patients on Accutane must enroll in (its purpose is mainly to prevent pregnancy in Accutane patients). Both men and women who take the Accutane must sign up for the iPledge system. We will register you and explain how to use it during your initial visit.
Accutane iPledge Tips
Side Effects Of Accutane/Isotretinoin
Like any drug, you should read the package insert which is comprehensive. We can share with you our extensive experience with this medication: Our practice has been regularly prescribing this drug since 1981. We have never witnessed any serious side effects for patients. The common side effects are chapped lips (which everyone gets) and other effects of “dryness” (dry skin and dry nose/eyes). We also occasionally have to manage an increase in cholesterol (which is temporary and responds to simply lowering the dose). We also sometimes see nose bleeds (secondary to dryness) and muscle aches.
The main “side effect” that we worry about is a severe birth defect that would occur if a woman got pregnant while taking Accutane (this of course is preventable – and this is why two forms of birth control or required to prevent pregnancy.)
Is Isotretinoin Right For You?
If you are struggling with acne that is not responding to other forms of treatment, we are happy to talk to you at length about using isotretinoin. Like many of our colleagues, we believe this is an excellent and affordable option for many patients dealing with problem acne. We have encountered many cases of acne where nothing BUT Accutane works. And Accutane seems to work just about every time we use it.
If you’re interested in learning more about isotretinoin in the Hollywood, FL area, call us for a consultation.