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.
It is typically the second-line treatment for severe or cystic acne that has not responded to other oral (or topical) forms of 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.
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.
Both men and women who take the drug must sign up for the iPledge system. We will register you into the system, and your treatment and usage is carefully monitored.
Prescribing Doctors are required to administer pregnancy tests each month to ensure compliance. Patients are required to log onto the iPledge website each month and complete questions about pregnancy prevention and the iPledge program before they can pick up their prescription at the pharmacy.
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.
For our patients with severe or cystic acne, a 6-month course of treatment offers a success rate of close to 100%.
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.
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 an excellent option for many patients. 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.
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