Is isotretinoin or accutane worth it? it was for me


Pimples – Everyone gets them from time to time, but some unlucky ones have been bombarded with an assortment of whiteheads, pustules and nodules since the onset of puberty. I am one of those unlucky ones. Since my freshman year in high school, I’ve been obsessed with how my skin looks. It’s a superficial problem, I know, but as a 14 year old girl my skin was who I was. My acne became a barrier that prevented people from seeing the real me.

Before and after four months of isotretinoin / Photo by Lilliana Castillo

Not everyone has a fixation on their acne, but for some people, it can destroy their confidence. I avoided going out with my friends and cried while removing my makeup, knowing that another pimple was stealthily emerging during the day. I cursed my genetics for making me so susceptible to hyperpigmentation.

One of the many videos I watched before Isotretinoin / Credit to Hana Lee

I have tried everything to get clear skin. I used Proactive, changed my diet, took spironolactone, started birth control, but nothing helped. I followed the advice of dozens of Youtube videos on skin care recommendations, only to be disappointed that I wasted my money on a useless product. After a while, I gave up. I masked my disappointment with layers of foundation, day in and day out. Then, in senior year, I discovered isotretinoin.

Isotretinoin, better known as Accutane, is a pill that contains a derivative of vitamin A that occurs naturally in the body. And unlike vitamin A supplements, isotretinoin doesn’t build up in the blood. But it comes with its own share of gruesome side effects, and that’s what made me put off trying the drug for months.

Chapped lips, dry skin, an upset stomach, and thinning hair are just a few of the potential horrors WebMD brought up when I first reviewed isotretinoin. And to top it off, the drug can also cause serious birth defects in fetuses. To make sure that they do not become pregnant, patients should take two methods of contraception and have a pregnancy test every month at their dermatologist’s office.

I spent months wondering if all the obstacles that isotretinoin presented was worth it. In the end, I decided to start right after graduating from high school. Four months after starting treatment, I am delighted to say that I have made the right choice for myself. Aside from a few minor scars, my skin is smooth and clear, and my acne no longer consumes my self-esteem.

Photo from flickr / Licensed by Creative Commons

That being said, I still experienced several unpleasant reactions to the medication. My lips are so crisp that I apply Aquaphor more than five times a day. My inner nostrils are drier than the Sahara. Isotretinoin gives me the joint pain of a 65 year old. There are nights when I can’t sleep.

Weinberg’s freshman Sarah Baca said she was initially against taking isotretinoin because of the psychological side effects she had on people close to her who had taken the drug. She said she ended up going and had dry skin, chapped lips and aching muscles.

“My body actually got very sore,” Baca said. “It was quite difficult for me to follow the sporting practices, which was frustrating to make it through the last year.”

She has also experienced mood swings in recent months, but said the result was worth it.

“I don’t feel like I have to cover parts of my face with makeup or leave my hair down to cover my scars,” she said.

It is up to you to decide if the benefits of isotretinoin outweigh the risks. because side effects are not something to erase. Everyone responds to treatment differently, so take my experience with a grain of salt. After years of bitter resignation, I finally have clear skin! I trust myself, and it means more to me than you might imagine.


About Sally Dominguez

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