Oral Retinoid
2786 Reviews
Oral Retinoid
Based on All Available Studies
Strength of Evidence
Note: Use with EXTREME CAUTION: Causes severe birth defects and fetal death.
Oral Retinoid
Side Effects
Oral Retinoid
Acne.org’s Real World Take
The nuclear option. It works reliably and provides long-term remission of acne, and even severe acne, in about ⅔ of people who properly take an adequate dosage. However, it permanently and irreversibly changes the skin and the body forever and users may experience long-term side effects for the rest of their lives. It’ll nuke it, but there is no going back.
Oral Retinoid
How to Get It
Have a dermatologist? Make an appointment to get this medication. Don't have a dermatologist? See The American Academy of Dermatology Physician Database to find one.
Read All About Isotretinoin (Accutane®)
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Used Isotretinoin (Accutane®)? Rate It:

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May 19, 2020
Fabulous medication

Accutane has cured so many of my patients when nothing else has worked. It is truly a miracle medication. It has even healed some acne scarring in the worst conditions of acne. It is my medication of choice in recalcitrant acne patients. 


Dr. Green

May 11, 2020

Honestly anyone who is suffering from acne like mine GO ON ACCUTANE! Don?t be afraid of horror stories, it is truly life changing. Never used to have ANY confidence because my skin was so bad at one point (2 years ago) and now I?m so confident with no makeup and my skin is brand new. I was 18 at the time, was on it 6 months and the only side effect I had was dry lips (nothing horrendous just you?re usual dry chapped lips) used aquaphor to sort that and I had quite dry skin which looked bad with makeup on, nothing horrendous and was okay when I soaked my face in ceravae moisturiser or aquaphor.

before I went on accutane I had tried about 4 antibiotics, 3 birth controls (all made it worse or did nothing), duac, isotretinion gel, mario badescu products... the list goes on. I used to spend hours a day searching how to clear acne, I went insane! I even went vegan during the process as at one point I was convinced chocolate caused my acne. So many positives to accutane the only thing now is that my hair is maybe a little thinner than prior to the tablets and try not to drink too much alcohol on these (even though I did as I was a uni fresher eeek). Best of luck, it ALWAYS gets better just be patient. X  





May 6, 2020


March 24, 2020
Took Accutane Twice and each time my acne came back after 6 Months.

I took Accutane twice. I took it the first time for 6 months(20 mg) daily. And my face was clearer than ever. After exactly 6 months my acne came back. But it was not as severe as before. Then it got cystic again. And after 7 months. I thought that maybe i should take it again. I took it AGAIN. For 6 months(20mg) daily. Got really clear skin for another skin months. Then i had a relapse. Keep in mind i’m a person that takes best care of their skin. From morning to evening routine i take care of my skin as best as i could. After that i was soo disappointed. Now almost an year after my second round of accutane. I still have moderate acne. On my face , back , arms and chest. Accutane may be the solution for some but not all. Please keep in mind the side affects when starting Accutane. It made my hair very thin. And i still to this day have severe back pains. And my bones ache. And my hair is very less than what it used to be. Hopefully it works for you. But it was not an answer for me. 

July 18, 2020

That's because you took 20mg for 6 months, you didn't complete the full treatment and consume the total required dosage of 120-150mg/kg. You consumed around 3600mg, which would have been woefully insufficient. It's the people that don't intake the required cumulative dose, skip doses, and don't consume with food (fatty foods more specifically) that are more likely to experience these problems.

January 20, 2020
The only thing that every worked; but it came at a price!

I have always had terrible cystic acne growing up that started when I was around 9-10 years old. Over the years I tried every damn treatment you could think of but nothing would get rid of it, or even get it under control. The products I tried would all just clear it up a little bit, but not enough to really notice much of a difference. I had an extreme morning and evening regimen of vigorously washing my face and putting acne creams on. If I ever once forgot to wash my face or put the creams on, I would wake up with the worst breakouts of my life the next day. I absolutely could not forget or skip a day, ever. I took birth control for my acne, but it only helped a small amount. I always thought once I got out of highschool the acne would just go away eventually, but it never did. Finally at age 23 with a face full of zits, I thought, ?This is it. This acne is never going away.? And I started looking into more drastic treatments. This is where the accutane came in. Let me tell you this was no walk in the park. I went through the hardest 6 months of my life while taking this stuff. It made my lips and skin soo unbearably dry. Describing it as uncomfortable would be an understatement. If I ever left my house without vasoline, I was absolutely screwed. My lips would get so dry that they would stick together and I couldn?t even get my mouth open. One time when they got stuck together, I forced them apart, and the skin from my bottom lip got pulled off and was stuck to my upper lip. It was bad, and nasty to be quite honest. I felt sooo tired all the time. I would sleep for 12 hours and wake up still feeling exhausted. I felt so fatigued. I am a full time college student, and school got extremely difficult while I was on this stuff. I just could not for the life me concentrate, and was always falling asleep in class. I couldn?t find time to get homework done and study because I was always so exhausted. I ended up failing TWO classes while I was taking this stuff. And I had never failed a class before in my life! I was also experiencing memory loss, which honestly freaked me out a bit. I was constantly forgetting things, leaving things at people?s houses, forgetting to do things, which is very unlike me. It also caused me to gain a ton of weight! Which was terribleeee. The weight gain was probably the worst part for me. I would literally go days without eating and STILL gain weight. I was always starving, but was always afraid to eat because I was blowing up like a balloon. I probably gained over 30 pounds during the 6 months I took this stuff. And then as soon as I stopped taking it, the weight fell off without me even having to try. 

However, despite all the terrible side effects, I still have to say I feel it was worth it. My acne was controlling my life, and I finally feel free now. I think what I like most is not having to do a full face of make up every time I leave the house. It feels like a true gift, because I always hated wearing make up. I no longer have to wash my face or put acne products on at all. It?s been about six months now since I stopped taking accutane, and all the side effects are gone. I?m back at my normal weight, and my skin is still completely clear. As others have mentioned, please be very aware of the side effects. If you can, try to take it during a time when you don?t have too much going on in your life. Also, you can pretty much expect to have no dating life whatsoever while taking this stuff, so be prepared to spend some time alone. 





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January 13, 2020
Acne Came Back After Two Courses

This drug was amazing and cleared my skin on both occasions rapidly. Side effects are not fun but you do it because its only for 6 months and then its 'cured' (sigh). Not the case for me at all. On both occasions the acne came back after 6 months. I am now 26 and I now and my acne is as bad as it ever was and is clustering on completely new parts of my face. How much I wished that this was my cure and this nightmare would be something of the past.

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March 24, 2020

exactly my story. 

July 18, 2020

Did you take the full dosage of 120-150mg/kg? Did you skip doses? Did you consume it with fatty foods?

December 31, 2019
The miracle cure

This was the only acne product that worked for me. I was scared about all the supposed side-effects before taking it and especially stunted growth and depression. I ended up taking it for a year and my only side-effects were dry skin and lips that weren't really even that bad. I was on a low dose but took it for a longer time as my dermatologist had prescribed. Now afterwards I still have a pimple or two once in a while but by my standards I consider my skin clear :). For me getting rid of acne with accutane was one of the best things that has happened in my life and for me it was a miracle drug.  

October 25, 2019
Life changing

I am so sad I waited so long to do this. It is life. Changing!  I had a pretty gnarly cystic acne going on. Not a single pimple now. Not. A. Single. Freaking. Pimple. Scars and redness is still there, but just started Retin a for that! 

November 8, 2019

How long did it take for you to be clear.  I'm end of Month 5 and still getting small breakouts.  I will say parts of my face haven't broke out in a month, but still quite a few on nose, and side of nose.  

September 11, 2019
Yes, it cured my acne ,HOWEVER..

I was on accutane for 2 months when I was supposed to be on it for five - totally stopped cause the pills rose my liver levels and I got scared, nonetheless, it cured my awful, thick, painful cystic acne. Heres photos along with a details on my journey 


Don't have insurance? You're screwed. ESPECIALLY if you're a female. Let me explain:

Woman, once a month we must have blood tests done. Before you can get the pills, you must have a blood test. Each blood test (at QUEST) is $580 without insurance, the pills themselves range in price depending on the pharmacy, I picked mine up at COSTCO and paid $450 for them. Now, both the$450 and $580 are needed once a month. Its very, very costly.

As for Accutane itself, the process is insane and VERY much full of headaches. You CANNOT get the pill right then in there, you cant get them next week, in the next two weeks and so on. You must take a very stupid online assessment, pray to a god that your doctor did the steps right in calling Accutane and adding you into the system (otherwise, you would need to wait 2 months to get the meds) and after a month, if everything is done well and you visit your doc ON THE EXACT date planned, you can get the meds. Do no travel if you are on accutane. If you miss an appointment, they will need to reschedule everything and you could have to wait 2 months for the meds.

Everything with accutane is a damn process, a long, expensive one, due to law suits or something.

Ive had appointments on a monday, rescheduled for a friday and was told accutane removed me from the system therefore i had to take a blood test on a specific date, wait certain days, take another blood test, wait a few days, go to the doctor, after 30 days go to the doctor again and if, again, the doctor did everything well on their part (ive been to several and many times they could add your name wrong ((slight mispell can affect everything)) your birth date wrong, etc - youre screwed and gotta wait another 30 days) i could then get the prescription. 

August 15, 2019
The ONLY thing that worked

I took a generic called Amnesteem, and it is the only thing that worked for me.  For some background, I had acne starting at a very early age at about 10.   I think I was probably one of the only kids in my school at that age that had acne and everyone made sure to remind me of it.  For the next several years my acne got progressively worst although there were periods were it got better.   Then by 15, my acne became uncontrollable.  I still remember the very first cyst I had on the left side of my cheek.   For the next 11 years, well into adulthood, I struggled with cystic acne that took a toll on my life. While everyone else dated, I hid myself and every facet of my life took a hit.

By about 26, I had enough and finally started Accutane.  I hate to FIGHT my dermatologist in order to get on it.   Even though I had deep scarring, this dermatologist was resistant for god knows what reason.   My suggestion is that if your dermatologist is not receptive to your needs, drop them immediately.  DO NOT waste your time and let your skin get scarred.   I was on accutane for 5 months.  The first few months I took a moderate dose of 40 mg and I went through a pretty severe purging period where all the lesions came to the surface.   It seemed like it was failing.  By the 3rd month I upped it to 80mg and finally it started to work.  My cystic acne cleared and has remained mostly clear to this day.   

The fear mongering around this drug is ridiculous, and highly overblown.  I was scared for so long because of the all the horror stories online.  It's a serious drug, but do not let the overly dramatic accounts scare you.   This drug saved my life in many ways.  My only regret is that I took it way too late and I had the scars to show it.    Please, if you are starting to scar, do not wait.   

Finding a Doctor

The right dermatologist can make a big difference to your patient experience and the success of your acne treatment plan. Here are the steps to find a dermatologist who is a good fit:

  1. Use the search feature on the American Academy of Dermatology website to look for board-certified dermatologists in your area, and filter the search results for doctors with a special interest in treating acne.
  2. Read online patient reviews of any dermatologists you are considering and ask people you know whether they have any experience with these dermatologists.
  3. Do your research and go to your first appointment with questions prepared.
  4. Listen to what your gut feeling tells you once you see a dermatologist in person. If you are not completely comfortable, try a different dermatologist.

Finding a Doctor

Only a select few plastic surgeons specialize in acne scar revision surgery. Be certain to find a provider who specializes in acne scar repair and who is passionate and experienced in this area.

Be sure to:

  • Look at before and after photos, the more the better, especially patients with similar scarring to your own.
  • Be realistic about results. Look for improvement, not a cure.

Questions to ask a potential scar revision specialist:

  • Are you board certified? Be certain that they are board certified.
  • How long have you been performing these procedures? Normally, the more experience the better, however, some younger surgeons may be more on top of the latest procedures.
  • Can I speak to some of your other patients? Ask for references for several patients who had similar scarring and speak to them about the process and their satisfaction with results.

Red flags:

  • Their story changes: As you discuss different treatment options, if they tend to change their mind easily, or agree with whatever you say, consider this a red flag. A confident, experienced surgeon will possess strong, unwavering opinions.
  • Your gut tells you "no": Trust your gut. If you just don't feel that the doctor is the right fit, trust that and move on. On the other hand, if you feel they are the perfect specialist for you, trust that feeling.