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Warning: This is a long post.

I wrote this post to talk about my skin journey and to show others that it does get better! It is a long post, and is very detailed in order to help people get an understanding of this treatment route and the effects of it!

Back Story


Last year, I had been contemplating on taking accutane as a last resort to get rid of my stubborn acne. I had literally tried everything including OTC products containing BP and SA, LUSH products, proactiv, Duac (clindamyacin and BP), adapalene, and minocyclin. When I was younger, generic products containing SA and BP were enough to keep my skin at bay. This was in seventh grade. When they weren't enough, I was prescribed Duac, which is a combination of clindamyacin and BP. It worked magnificently and I stayed clear until sophomore year of high school. When I noticed my skin starting to break out, I got another prescription of Duac, but the results weren't as good as the first time. So I dealt with the acne, going from product to product, trying to find something that would cure my skin. But as I reached my senior year, my face had gotten pretty bad. My already oily skin had reached the oiliest I had seen it, and I felt like people were looking at my pimples and not at me, and who I really was. I was embarrassed by my skin. Even with makeup on, I still felt that my skin looked terrible. And thanks to my oily skin, my makeup would look oily within an hour or so. The last two products I tried before going to a dermatologist were adapalene and minocyclin. Adapalene made my skin patchy and worse, while minocyclin worked when I was on it, but made me sick. And as soon as I got off minocyclin, my skin continued to break out.


All these years of dealing with acne left me stressed, insecure, and depressed. People would try to give me advice, telling me stuff that worked for them. They told me to drink more water and stop drinking coffee, stop eating stuff with sugar in them, wash your face more, don’t sleep late. I heard these a million times. Do they really think I hadn’t tried that stuff? I went to get my nails done for senior prom, and I walked in with a starbucks cup of chai latte. The nail technician who was doing my nails started telling me, “Wow, you have a lot of acne, huh? You shouldn’t drink coffee, too much sugar, bad for acne. Drink more water!” As if it were that simple. At this point I was holding back tears and wanted to leave the nail appointment then and there. This nail appointment was supposed to make me feel happy and relaxed, not depressed and upset. I told my mom and she said not to listen to her. Not too long after that, we scheduled an appointment with the derma.


My Last Resort


At the derma, a PA assessed my skin and came to a conclusion based on my history and current skin condition. Given all the products I had tried with minimal or no success, she recommended accutane as my best way to get rid of my acne. This was my greatest fear. I had heard horror stories about accutane and very little successes. I had a feeling she would come to that conclusion. But, I was determined to stop feeling depressed and bad about how I looked. I was tired of crying in my room, feeling like an ugly troll, not being able to be proud of what I looked like, and not even being able to leave the house without makeup on. So after much contemplation and research, I decided to go for it. At this point I had done everything I could, and this was my last resort.


Beginning accutane was no walk in the park. I had to sign up with the i-Pledge system to start. I also had to go to my doctor and get a birth control prescription. I also had to take a pregnancy test the day I went to the derma and the day I came back to prove I wasn’t pregnant. I also had blood work taken, and had to get it done a second time because my LFT levels were too high. When I finally got cleared, they sent out the prescription and I had 7 days to pick it up at the pharmacy, or else I’d be locked out of the system. But before I could even pick that up, I had to answer a few questions to prove I understood what accutane was and the circumstances surrounding taking it was on the i-Pledge website. After that was done, I picked up my month supply of 30mg tablets.


The Beginning


Holding my first pill in my hand on June 27th, 2015, I was so nervous. I was afraid that I would be one of the unlucky people that suffer from weird side effects. After a good ten minutes, I took my first pill and ate some food, just in case it made me sick like my other medication in the past. It did not make me sick. To clarify, the actual brand name Accutane has been discontinued, but the active ingredient in it is called isotretinoin. It’s a synthetic form of vitamin A that helps shrink the pores and starves the pimple causing bacteria in your system. The forms of isotretinoin I took were Claravis and Amnesteem.


The very next day, my family drove me up to the university I would be starting at. I was all moved in and ready to start my freshman year of college. Well, not quite. I still had my acne problem. Within the first two weeks, I began to notice my lips starting to get dry. I also noticed that my skin was a little less oily, which was amazing for me.


The First Month


Within the first month, I saw an overall improvement in my skin. I wasn’t completely clear by any means, but my skin looked much better than when I had started. The oily was almost non existent. I loved this because the weather is scorching in the summer and that used to exacerbate my oiliness. But on this medication, I had no oiliness, not even after walking back to my dorm from classes! But, I did notice that my lips were getting super chapped. My regular lip balm wasn’t cutting it. I also felt a little bit of pain when I laid on my stomach. It was like a soreness in my ribs from laying on them. I also had a little back pain. This was pretty worrisome, but it went completely away by the third month.


The Third Month


By the third month, my lips became severely chapped. Besides this, I experienced no other major, negative symptoms! Well okay, I had patchy skin, but exfoliating a little would do the trick. I had gone from regular lip balm to vaseline to aquaphor, then finally found two products that worked! One was an agave lip mask from BITE cosmetics, and a rose salve from Bath and Body Works. The BITE lip mask was quite costly, but worked well. It was quite thick and stayed on for a long time. I would use this at night to keep my lips from cracking and keep them hydrated. I found the salve to be very helpful during the day. It was much lighter than the lip mask, but kept my lips from falling apart. It would even help exfoliate the dead skin that would shed off of my lips.  I also kept wearing a lip gloss to help my lips look like one color. Eating would sometimes suck, because if I took a big enough bite, my lips would split all over again. Right after eating, I had to slather lip balm on. I also loaded up my water intake. I had to pee a lot! But you know what? Besides these annoying side effects, I stuck it out. And by just the beginning of my third month (September), my skin was completely clear and oil free! I was so surprised with my results after such a long time of suffering from acne and having no success.


The Rest of My Treatment


With my skin finally being clear and oil free at the beginning of three months on isotretinoin (Accutane), I was starting to feel more confident again. The last time I had seen my face this clear was when I was a freshman in high school! Now I would be starting my second semester (Fall) of my freshman year in college! Four years of struggle, and finally seeing a result. My skin had totally transformed. I had transformed.


I was finally able to look at myself in the mirror and be proud of what I saw. I used to resent getting up to try and make my face look presentable, and now I could look at my bare face and feel satisfied with what I saw. I didn’t feel ugly anymore. My self-esteem had completely changed. Yes, I had to deal with severely dry and flaky lips and the dry patches of skin on my face, but it was totally worth it! I would take that over pimple and oil ridden skin any day. I was able to put myself out there and make friends without feeling that they’re looking at my pimples and not who I really am. I finished my last round of isotretinoin, 60 mg a day, in November. After five months, I was done!


After Isotretinoin


After finishing my treatment on isotretinoin, I had what I was trying to achieve: acne free skin. I felt human again, I felt like me again. A few weeks later, I did notice that my hair seemed to be thinning out. To fix this, I began to take hair, skin, and nail vitamins which helped restore my biotin levels and stopped my hair from further thinning. About a month after, my lips were no longer desert dry, and I was able to do what I would have never dared while on isotretinoin, which was wear matte lipstick! Matte lipstick clings to any dry patches on your lips, and with patchy, dry lips on isotretinoin, my lips would’ve looked terrible. But now, I was finally able to!


In March, four months after my final dose of isotretinoin, I saw my oil begin to creep back. It wasn’t much, very minimal oil. By May, six months after my final dose, I saw my oil levels pick back up. I had my first pimple pop up, but it went away in three days!




Now, July 3rd, 2016, 8 whole months after my last dose of isotretinoin, my skin is back to being oily, but not nearly as oily it was a year ago before I started isotretinoin! Sure it’s annoying, but it is manageable. Overall, I am still very satisfied with my skin! I couldn’t expect to have non-oily skin forever! It’s in my genetics. I still find my skin to be sensitive, and whenever I’m exposed to the sun for long periods of time, I make sure to wear sunscreen with good SPF. My moisturizer, primer, and foundation that I use daily also have some SPF in them as well! I exfoliate a few times a week, moisturize every night, spot treat minor breakouts, and apply facial masks from time to time. I have not encountered any breakouts that come close to what I dealt with before. The most I’ve dealt with so far are about three small pimples at one time that I treated with OTC BP. I also have some scarring from some acne before, but nothing my makeup can’t cover up. My skin is also fairly light which makes the scarring a little obvious. It has become less noticeable after time has gone by!




Isotretinoin was worth it for me! It gave me back my confidence and feeling of self worth. I used to hate looking in the mirror, and now I can leave the house without makeup if I wanted to. My skin is normalized again. I recommend it to someone who has tried everything they can think of and has seen no results. Not everyone will have the same results as me, but I feel like it’s worth the shot!

I hope that this was helpful, even though it was long, and provided insight on a controversial way to get rid of acne! I can answer your questions if you have any :) And you can read my full “before” story here: http://www.acne.org/messageboard/topic/350412-accutane-as-a-last-resort-long-post/#comment-3483768

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Wow, that sounds great!! I can't wait until my skin gets that way (': was your initial breakout bad? Or did you not have one at all? I just started my course and I'm so worried about the initial breakout stage.... well anyways, I'm so glad isotretinoin worked for you!! ^_^

Edited by choigrace

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On 7/3/2016 at 8:34 PM, heymynameis said:

I felt like people were looking at my pimples and not at me, and who I really was.

I disagree. When I was 13 and arguably with the worst acne of my life, I actually had the best relationships with people. I feel as if they saw me for me and beyond my acne. I had friends that were REAL friends. Fast forward to now after Accutane (Isotretinoin) and clear dry skin (dry everything) I feel like some girls like me for my looks and relationships don't have any sustenance as they used to. We talk some and have a good time, but it feels kind of wrong sometimes. I feel used afterwards.
On 7/3/2016 at 8:34 PM, heymynameis said:

The forms of isotretinoin I took were Claravis and Amnesteem.


Wait, you took two different brands? One generic and one brand name form of Isotretinoin?

  Edited by macleod

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