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Is The Stress of Accutane Really Worth It For a 15 1/2 Year Old Girl with Moderate Acne?

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Basically, I've had acne ever since I was 11. When I was 12 it really flared up, and it killed my confidence. I went from a bubbly girl with a lot of friends to a huge introvert with a lot of anger issues and even struggled with self harm. Now I'm the girl that a lot of people make fun of because my interests are slightly different after I was forced out of the mainstream.

I tried every antibiotic on the market. Every topical, and I'm too sensitive. I have moderate cystic acne and I scar terribly. My complexion is fair, and it's so easy for my skin to turn red. I started birth control in December of 2008, and it cleared my acne up for a while but now it's coming back. I don't remember any time when my skin was completely clear. My acne isn't nearly as severe as some, but it is incredibly persistent.

Today I went to the derm for the first time since April. I was basically told that Accutane was my last resort by some woman who works with my normal derm. She was cold and made Accutane seem like a horrible horrible thing by explaining her experience with it as a teenager, but she had to do two courses and it sounded like she suffered more than I do now. I was near tears. Not because of the side effects, but because of how she was treating me.

Then my normal derm came in. She said there was still some hope, I could switch to a birth control called Ortho Tri-Cyclen, as it is FDA approved for the treatment of moderate acne. My birth control is low estrogen (Loestrin 24). Also, I'll be trying a sodium sulfacetamide wash. Then in the next month I'll go back, see how it's working. Be registered for Accutane and start the iPledge program. And after two months if I'm really not satisfied, I will be on Accutane.

I've been on acne.org a number of times. Browsed the accutane progress gallery probably from beginning to end. Read a lot of stories. Heard what amazing things it does to people. My derm said that as long as I use tons of moisturizer and chapstick and am gentle with my skin I should be fine. She has prescribed it to hundreds of people and said that only two have reacted very negatively to it.

That gave me a lot of hope. Knowing that moisturizing heavily and using eye drops, the works, will help me tolerate it. I was worried about having flaky skin and me having moderately oily skin, only being able to wear powder makeup. Using powder only makes the flakes worse! But then I found out that it dries out your skin so much I could use liquid makeup without having to worry about breaking out from it or getting too shiny.

Is 4-6 months of uncomfortable skin (or worse) worth it for me? I'm trying everything I can before I take the plunge. But I so desperately want to go into my senior year of high school confident, and feeling beautiful, and finally being able to get rid of my scars! Natural chemical peels got rid of the ones on my back very well, and I'm confident they will do the same for my face but I can't do it yet without wasting my money until the SOURCE of the scarring goes away!

After reading the negative experiences on the acne.org boards though I felt somewhat discouraged again. A part of me is saying "those side effects only attack a very small percentage of the population that has experienced accutane, they probably had something unknown wrong with them that caused such intolerance". But the other part is saying "olivia, you're delicate. you can't even handle your own adhd medication, how is this going to affect you? what if you're apart of the 2%? what if it doesn't work and you lose all options?"

That scares me.

Should I wait for a bit longer? Or is this the right time? I feel like I've given my acne so much patience and time. It's not like I walked into the derm for the first time and was like "ACCUTANE PLEASE!!!". I've struggled with this for almost five years and it's killing my confidence.

Is such a drastic choice (or not so drastic maybe?) really worth it for a 15 1/2 year old girl with moderate, very persistent, cystic acne?

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OK soo I'm 20 and I have been on accutane for 3 months now. I have had persistent mild/moderate acne since I was probably 12 also. After I started college my acne started to get worse and my aunt and a few friends actually suggested that I ask my doctor about accutane because nothing else seemed to work.

Honestly the biggest problem I have had with accutane is the ridiculous ipledge program. It has messed up for me just about every month I think, which is a tad annoying.

The only side effects I have experienced are dry lips, kinda dry skin, and small headaches occasionally. Right now my face is actually starting to clear up and it makes me so happy and confident, I love it!

As for the make-up, I put lotion on my face occasionally before I put my foundation on. I actually just started using Clinique Foundation that moisturizes your skin but is oil free and keeps the grease away, it works so well.

Hope I helped some, if you have any other questions just message me or something!!

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Tough it out for three more years until you're 18 and fully developed mentally. I made the horrible mistake of going on accutane when I was 15 and I regret it soo much. You have moderate acne, accutane isn't for you.

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Tough it out for three more years until you're 18 and fully developed mentally. I made the horrible mistake of going on accutane when I was 15 and I regret it soo much. You have moderate acne, accutane isn't for you.

I don't feel like age is a huge factor. Should accutane be prescribed to 11 year olds, no. But I don't think mental development is the issue here. I'm sorry you had a bad experience, I read your posts, but my dermatologist said that in all the years of her prescribing accutane to hundreds of patients, two came back and had to be taken off the medicine because of depression. And both kids were either caught in the middle of a bad divorce between their parents, or were being moved around to three different high schools all during their senior year. That's bound to cause depression.

I don't think the suicidal thoughts and depression are as common as you think, and mental development really has nothing to do with it as far as I've heard.

My acne is moderate, yet persistent, again, and very very painful.

Thanks for your input! But I was more curious about the physical side effects. Dry skin, chapped lips, etc. Is all that for several months really worth the clear skin at the end?

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I agree with the whole waiting aspect, but I disagree completely with the point that accutane isn't for moderate acne.

Persistent moderate acne, though not nearly as bad as cystic severe acne, is still a horrible thing. Accutane is made to treat Severe cystic acne OR moderate persistent acne. If people can receive relief from severe acne, why shouldn't people like me (who has persistent and moderate acne) be able to get relief as well?

Edited by az0889
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Acne is normal for that age. Wait until you're at least 18 to see if you grow out of it.

I know acne is normal, but cysts aren't. Huge painful cysts, no matter how few. I don't think it's completely my hormones, although they definitely play a part since they've calmed down since I got bc and got past the age of 13.

But it does definitely run in my family. My father and his twin brother both had severe acne well into their 20's. And my mother still breaks out at the age of 54. Very mildly, but she's in menopause, come on. It should be gone by now. She shouldn't still have to see a dermatologist for acne.

If all that is clearly in my line of genetics, what can I expect to happen to me as an adult? I almost feel like I'm just wasting time. I'm tired of being embarrassed. I turn down many modeling opportunities because of the sole reason that I do not want to be involved in reviewing the unedited pictures directly after a shoot taken by high mega pixel cameras that show everything on my face.

I'm tired of having my facial skin be darker than the rest of my skin because of the fact that I have to pile on so much powder, the only thing my oily skin can handle, to cover all the redness. And I like my pale complexion, it's pretty, but I can't show it because my face is so red.

Having acne has just brought down my self esteem so much. It holds me back from a lot in school; I'm on the school newspaper and was chosen to be in the focus. But it involved taking a photograph of me and I said no for the only reason that I had acne.

I don't understand the rationale that I should have to be miserable and reclusive the rest of my high school career, and probably well into my college career. This isn't just acne that I'm getting from crazy teenage hormones, it's far more severe than what the average teenager should get.

If I've resisted every single antibiotic and topical on the market, there's got to be more to my acne than just being a teenager.

It can't be that bad for people under 18 if it's prescribed so often for "underage" kids. And it seems to work quite often for them as well.

I've waited nearly five years. I'm giving it as much patience as I can. I'm switching my birth control just to see if I can hold out Accutane for just a little longer, which is a hassle as it is. I risk a lot of undesirable things by doing it, like gaining weight, and having a period for a whole entire month, among other things.

I feel like I've waited for a long time.

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This is your decision and it's all up to you. If you want to go on Accutane, try it. I'm on it for the second time and for me atleast it's not as bad as people make it out to be. The first couple of weeks are the worst and then it got better from then on.

Edited by tv_viewer
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If sounds like you've already made up your mind and want us to affirm your decision. Bottom line is, no one knows if it's safe for you to go on Accutane; there are side effects that are exacerbated/more common in younger people, that usually have to do with stunted growth and bone density, which haven't leveled out at your age. I don't see why you'd escape the psychological problems as an adult if you were predisposed to have them on Accutane, so I wouldn't worry too much about that. The same thing probably applies to (many of) the physical side effects as well.

My advice? If you're going to do it, just be careful. Tell your derm you want to start on a low dose and get your feet in the water first, so to speak. This won't ensure that you don't have side effects, but you'll get an idea of how you react to the drug. If everything's fine, your doctor can raise your dose gradually and take it from there.

I think I have made up my mind, I'm pretty sure I do want to do this if there's really nothing left, but I am trying. If the ortho tri cyclen (new birth control) I'm starting can solve my problems then I'm holding off on Accutane. It's truly not something I'm looking forward to doing. It's not going to be a picnic, but I really just wanted to know if it was worth it in the long run.

My dermatologist refuses to do a super low dose. She says it's not effective and believes it's bad medicine, even in the beginning. I only weight a little over a 100 pounds so my dose would only be 40 mg. She says that there's way less of a chance for developing a tolerance or acne again later in life.

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I too am 15 and I started accutane when I was 14. It didn't work exceptionally well for my skin; however, everyone else I know has responded well to the drug. I strongly recommend trying it. The side effects of chapped lips and dry skin are essentially inevitable, but a good moisturizer like Cetaphil, and lip balm can adequately solve both of those dilemmas.
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Personally? I think your derm's being unreasonable and it's not an outlandish request. I don't see how immediately putting you on a normal/high dose could be 'good' for you. I'm not a dermatologist, but it might be better for you to take 10/20 mg during your first month to adjust to the medication. I started out slowly - experienced side effects - and gradually tapered up to 60 mg. I'm finding that I'm doing better on 60 than I did on 10 mg (initially) because I've had time to adjust - and I weigh just about the same as you do.

Then again, that's one person's anecdotal evidence. My derm told me something similar - that taking a higher dose consistently makes remission more likely. However, I don't take anything my dermatologists have told me as gospel truth, because they've made it clear during our interactions that they don't know everything.

You should be able to have a say in how your course goes, because it's your body. As reassurance, I will tell you that I'm very happy I went on Accutane: I'm not always thinking about my skin or depressed that I look ugly. I wouldn't say it's a miracle drug - I'm on my 8th month and I'm not 100% clear (nevermind all the red marks and scarring) - but sometimes it's the only thing you can do that works.

Yeah, I don't know. I've had so many things with Retin-A in them before, which makes me wonder if my body will recognize it and maybe not freak out as much.

I know that being impatient solves nothing, but I'm fearful of having dry skin and chapped lips for more than the 6 months that is most common. I know that time will probably fly and it'll be worth it in the end, but still, it's somewhat of a grim diagnosis.

Maybe I will push for it. But I may not even do it for sure. I'm just going to get registered for iPledge so I can start at any time I please if I so desire in the next couple months.

Good to know that you're happy with your decision. It's discouraging to hear all the stories where people heavily regret it, wish they could turn back time since it either did nothing for them or made their body condition worse.

How severe was your acne?

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I think you should do it. Do you really want acne into your 20's? I think there are real side effects to accutane, but the same is true with all meds, you just don't hear about it as much. Hell, the BCP carries risks as well. Antibiotics are risky. My point is, any drug is. With accutane they monitor you monthly so the chance of side effects is usually caught early.

If you don't do accutane you should look into spiro.

Much more people take the drug and have no lasting problems than the one's who do.

It's a shame you can't start out at a lower dose.

Edited by Anti - Em
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Retin-A is topical, so I doubt it would have much of an effect on your body 'recognizing' isotretinoin, but if you've been using it recently and regularly, you should have a much less severe IB because your pores are relatively clear. Same goes for antibiotics - people who have been on them right before Accutane tend not to break out as badly initially.

Time doesn't fly on Accutane, but what's one more month? I planned on being on 9 at the start of my course, and here I am at 8... it just becomes part of your routine, and to be honest it's reassuring to be on Accutane for longer because you have this chemical buffer to prevent you from breaking out. I'm terrified of going OFF Accutane because then my body's free to break out as it pleases. If you don't respond badly to the drug, it's not a big deal. My biggest issue right now is taking my pills at the right time and making sure my lips aren't chapped; it's hardly a problem. I don't even use moisturizer (though this is because it breaks me out) and I'm more or less fine.

Accutane-related fear-mongering on here is just annoying, at this point. There's a reason there are monthly blood tests and close monitoring, and like I've said before, you can maximize safety by starting on a low dose. A lot of these people act like everyone should be denied Accutane because of their terrible experiences - why is it their business? It's more bitterness than philanthropy if you ask me.

Also, I started out with moderate acne like you. I had a lot of embedded papules that were stuck so deep under my skin they didn't protrude. I could feel lumps in my face, and these lasted for months at a time and left behind purple scars. I still have a few on my face despite being on 60 mg of Accutane. I also got numerous pustules, had clogged pores everywhere, and my chin would often break out in cysts. I had hard plugs in my pores I could pick out - disgusting. I was miserable and my skin poured so much oil that my makeup would melt off in an hour or two. It was just gross and very depressing; I avoided mirrors for months. Now I'm comfortable with my appearance, with and without makeup, and think I can look quite nice.

I waited until my twenties to go on Accutane, though - at that point I knew I wasn't going to outgrow it. You still have a chance, but if your parents are still breaking out I can understand why you want to start a course. I completely agree with what Em said above, and second her spiro suggestion. Spiro is usually taken alongside birth control, so maybe you could ask your doctor about that first.

I was on antibiotics a while back, but probably too long ago for it to make a difference.

Does moisturizer make you break out even on Accutane? That says something for sure. My derm told me that I could put crisco on my face and I probably wouldn't even break out.

It sounds like your acne was worse than mine. Or at least a very different kind. My acne always protrudes eventually, and they never last that long. I definitely have moderate - moderately severe acne according to my dermatologist but I guess a very different kind. That sounds horrible :(.

What's spiro? My dermatologist didn't mention that at all. So I'm guessing she might think it doesn't work? We went through a lot of options but that definitely wasn't one.

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I too am 15 and I started accutane when I was 14. It didn't work exceptionally well for my skin; however, everyone else I know has responded well to the drug. I strongly recommend trying it. The side effects of chapped lips and dry skin are essentially inevitable, but a good moisturizer like Cetaphil, and lip balm can adequately solve both of those dilemmas.

By exceptionally well, do you mean you think it was a waste of time, or that you broke out the same as you did before accutane and it helped nothing, or did it at least help a little bit?

Did your derm say anything that was going on with you that could have made it so accutane was less effective for you?

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I say go for it if acne is something that really bothers you! I'm 16 and I'm on it, the first 3 months were hell but now I'm finally starting to see improvement and I loooovveeee that! follow what your heart is saying.

just a side note tho, for me personally, wearing makeup is kind impossible, my skin has been so flakey that makeup just makes everything look worse. but you look very pretty in your picture so I think you'll will be ok!

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