Accutane, How Did It Work for You?

Updated on May 23, 2012
M.Q. asks from Perris, CA
18 answers

I have an 11 y/o daughter who is starting to get alot of acne on her face and some on her chest. I myself am 29 and still suffer from acne, not the severe kind but I am almost always broken out somewhere on my face although I've used Proactive for 7 yrs now. So I just scheduled an apptm w/her ped for next tues so that they can refer her to a dermatologist. I decided to look up Accutane, to see what the big fuss is about this medicine and OMG it sounds horrible!! I'm not sure all the side effects are worth it. I know everyone is different and she may not get any side effects but that's a big list! So I was wondering, what other medications is there out there that she can try? I honestly don't think that facial cleansers and what not are gonna get the job done, she def needs something from the inside out b/c her hormones are soooo out of whack right now with all the changes she's going through.

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So What Happened?

Bobbi--how long did you have to take it for?

babydoos-- I have thought of buying it for her but honestly i just switched to the generic Equate version of it b/c it's so expensive. When I was pregnant with DD2 I asked my doc (even brought the product in) about using proactive and he said it was ok b/c it just treats the skin, i used it while breast feeding and while pregnant & bfing DD3&4 too :)

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answers from Dallas on

I was a trial patient for Accutane back when it first became available in the early 80s. I had horrendous acne, and Accutane was a lifesaver for me. I didn't have any side-effects.

My 14 year old son started getting bad acne a year and a half ago. We started taking him to a dermatologist a year ago because over the counter products weren't helping him. Since then he's been using Retin-A at night, a different topical ointment in the morning, and various antibiotics specifically for the skin. Right now he's on Solydyn, and his skin looks much better - not perfect, but pretty good.

We asked the dermatologist about Accutane, and she said that she doesn't like to give it to boys until they reach their upper teens at least because it can stunt their growth. I know you have a daughter, and it doesn't effect girls the same way, but I thought others might be interested.

Good luck with finding a good dermatologist and treatment. There are a lot of options available now.

M. H.- It is on the market. We just talked to the dermatologist about it last month.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Acne treatment is usually progressive, so they won't START her on accutane unless other treatments aren't working.

Dollars to donuts, you're looking at gentle soap (like Dove) with topical antibiotic and topical benzol peroxide gel of some kind.

If that doesn't work, oral antibiotics with the bp gel

If that doesn't work, oral antibiotics and retin-A

If that doesn't work, birth control pills etc. etc. etc.

Accutane is serious stuff. You've probably got at least a year of trying other methods before you even have to consider Accutane.


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answers from Omaha on

My brother was on accutane and while it did clear up his cystic acne beautifully, but like BabyDoo said, it really dried him out and I think he had trouble with chapped lips as well. Now that he is grown and married, he and his wife have never been able to conceive a child. She has issues too, but we have always wondered if the accutane has had some affect on him in regards to fertility.
I do know a female friend that used it in her teen years and she was fine. I believe she now has a child or two. So something to think about way into your daughter's future.
I would try things like Beauticontrol's acne products. They are very good and do work from the inside out. Nu Skin also has some great products for acne. If those don't work then you might look into Obagi. It is a pharmaceutical product that you can only get from a licensed physician. I think the main ingredient is a potent dose of vitamin C.
Also have her get regular facials and microdermabrasion. These are great ways to cleanse the skin. She can get them done at a local esthetics school to offset the high cost. Groupon and other discount sites like it often offer deals for facials too. Good luck!

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answers from Chicago on

Well I finally did accutane 6 years ago after suffering all my life with cystic acne. I still hug my dermatologist when I see her, because it totally cured my acne. It has been amazing to have a clear face now in my 40s!

I have two friends whose daughters were just on accutane and it worked for them as well. No problems whatsoever. My 24-year-old, however, had a reaction to the drug and had to stop taking it. She was really disappointed because it was working. But she couldn't continue to use it.

I have had several doctors tell me Proactive is actually the worst thing to use on your face. I tried that at one point too.

Take her to a dermatologist who can explain accutane to you, and also alternative treatments. There are so many things to try these days before your resort to accutane. Sometimes, though, it is all that works.

Good luck to you and your daughter.

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answers from New York on

My husband use to take it and he is positive it is why he suffers with IBS now. He regrets it. He'd rather have the acne.

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answers from Denver on

I took accutane when I was 22 or so. I did work, but I would never do it again and absolutely wouldn't have my DD take it. I think besides the teen suicide risk, it is terrible for your liver. You have to go in often for blood tests to check liver levels. That's a red flag right there. I was young and didn't have kids, etc., and was desperate. But please don't let your DD take it, at least not at this young age.

I still have flare ups, and what I do now, and would ask your doc about, is called IPL. It's sort of a laser deal, they put ultrasound gel on your face and zap around. It feels like little rubber band snaps. But no side effects, and no marks or anything. You leave the office looking like you did when you came in. It works great for me. I worry about my DD, I hope she didn't inherit my skin, but if she did I would have her do IPL.

Good luck, I hate acne, it is so difficult to handle.

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answers from New York on

has she tried using the proactive... i literally tried everything.. i started to get acne about 2 yrs ago, at first it wasnt so bad but it gradually got worse and once i got pregnant it was horrible.. over those 2 years i tried everythinggg proactive was my last try before i went to a dermatologist and it worked amazing.. 3 weeks after i started using it my face was clear.. as far as accutane goes i know theres alot of side effects and theres all theses things that they say it can effect years after using it. my fiance was put on accutane twice when he was 13 and 15 i believe.. he had horrible acne at that age and tried everything accutane was the only thing that worked and since then hes neever had any issues other than the osscaional blackhead or pimple here n there.. he said he never had any side effects with it but hes going on 27 yrs old so that was a pretty long time ago, before they were aware of all the issues people can have with it.. it always freaks him out a little bit when he sees the commercials on tv for lawyers/class action lawsuits due to issues stemming from the use of accutane .. i wouldnt worry about it just yet.. accutane is usually a last option even with dermatologists they will more than likely try other things before they go to that.. my fiances little brothers doc had him try a couple things now hes on a prescription acne cream uses ur standard over the counter face wash and takes some kind of pill but its not accutane and his skin is so much better

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answers from Utica on

I know that my husband used accutane when he was a teen and it literally 'juiced' him. He said he was so dry that not a drop of sweat would come out of him. He said his lips were crazy dry and that it hurt. Apparently its been linked to teen suicide because it messes with your hormones too - scary stuff in my opinion. Why not have her try Proactiv too? I was using it before I became pregnant with my first and it worked great for me. I am currently breastfeeding my second and it says to avoid it while pregnant or breastfeeding but I plan to start up again when I wean my baby
Good Luck

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answers from Washington DC on

My daughter is also 11 and also having some bad issues with acne but I'd never even consider Accutane. It was taken off the market in 2009 in the United States so I'm not sure it would even be an option. But it has too many questionable properties anyway. These are from Wikipedia:

"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) medication guide for Accutane states the drug 'may stop long bone growth in teenagers who are still growing.'"

"Various case reports of depression, suicidal ideation, suicide attempt, and suicide in patients treated with isotretinoin have been reported to the U.S. FDA Adverse Events Reporting System, with 431 cases reported between 1982 and May 2001 – of these, 37 patients had committed suicide." (And those are only the cases that made it into the official reporting system--there is plenty of anecdotal evidence of Accutane's link to depression especially in teenagers.)

And you've heard from others about its possible link to inflammatory bowel disease.

Sure, she might not have any of these side effects. But there's just as good a chance that she could have them. It's not worth risking her health or even her life to clear up her skin. Why not try over the counter products first and at the same time help her adjust to the idea that hormones are not something to be "cured" but something that has to be ridden out with the best possible help? That would not include this very dodgy drug.

We are currently using Neutrogena's scrub that contains salicylic acid for acne, followed by Neutrogena's matching toner with salicylic acid, and when needed, the same company's gel medicine for applying directly to pimples -- also with salicylic acid. I would not mix different over the counter medications such as salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide -- try one or the other at a time to see what works best for her. It will take time and both she and you will have to be patient for these things to work. The Neutrogena products so far work pretty well IF used regularly, twice a day, and religiously. My daughter still has generally bumpy forehead skin but the bumps are not showing as much and not erupting as pimples as much, again, IF she uses the products consistently. You can't fight hormones, you can only work around them.

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answers from Detroit on

accutane is pjretty bad when you are on it.. usually you take it for 5 months .. maybe a little longer if the dr thinks you should.

I dont know that they would give it to a child so young.

I would wait till her hormones calm down a bit. ask the ped .. how long after she starts her period will her hormones be more regulated.

accutane makes you extremely dry all over,, I probably could have skipped washing my hair for a week or longer.. lips are dry.. skin is dry.. but it does work.. I would say 80-90% reduction in pimples for year after I stopped the drug. I also had lots of bone and joint pain.. I felt like I had arthritis. All of the side effects went away when I was done with the drug.



answers from Pittsburgh on

Accutane was a godsend for me. It was tough there for a while but I hae never had a problem since taking it 20 years ago. That being said I would never let my 11 yo take it. Actually-I would be shocked if she could even get it prescribed for her. I would be so afraid of what it may do to someone that is still growing. Also, I know someone that was on Accutane and now has colitis. He is involved in a class action against Roche because of this.

I urge you to look into diet as a cause of her acne. Sugar is a HUGE culprit in acne and not often recognized. Put her on a low carb diet with no sugar and all whole grains for a couple weeks and see if it helps.Also, no dairy. Dairy is another culprit.



answers from New York on

Absolutely not.... I took accutane when I was about 22 and it was a nightmare. My face broke out worse than ever when I started using it and my Dr. told me that it's normal and she has to up the milligrams. I was taking 80 milligrams when finally my hair started falling out in clumps. That was it and I stopped taking it. I was histerical. It didn't stop for years after that and my dr. then gave me rogaine to help the problem. I have permanent scars from where my skin didn't have enough oil in it's glands to heal itself from where I was breaking out. My lips were soooo dry for years after as well as my face. I had rosacea as a result of the dryness. I know people who have had excellent results from it but not me. I took it to get rid of one problem and gave myself 10 others.



answers from Albuquerque on

Please do not use this product. It is so harmful to a growing body. My father is a doctor and he refuses to prescribe this drug anymore because it is just so dangerous.

Speak with the dermatologist about other treatment options. Birth control may help balance her hormone level and if she is prescribed Accutane (hopefully not) she will be required to take birth control anyway.

Good luck - I hope you can find the right product to help her without harming her at the same time!



answers from Los Angeles on

It's probably best to wait for the consult with the dermatologist. I doubt if she has never been prescribed anything before for her acne that they would leap to something that harsh as a first option. There are many great prescription creams on the market that do wonders and don't have as many scary side effects. I have friends who swear by Tazorac.


answers from Dallas on

They will try a whole lot of other options before going to the A bomb. I got red, chapped looking on my face, and chapped lips. Glycolic acid worked much better for me.



answers from Los Angeles on

My stepdaughter had real bad acne for a few years. Her mom was going to put her on accutane, a mutual friend who is an estitician(spelling??) strongly suggest we do not go that route.for 2 reasons, 1 that accutane can cause major depression and even suicidal thoughts. 2 her face needed the exact opposite. Her face was to dry from all the over the counter products she bought. Once she had a couple of facials, slowly her face cleared up. My daughter said her face hurt so bad because it was so dry. She did about 2 months of facials once a week. It did get a lil spendy but well worth it.
Good luck with what ever you choose to do.



answers from Dallas on

I did Accutane about 20 years ago--it was great!!! However, I don't believe it's on the market anymore. So you'll have to pick other isotretinion options.



answers from Cleveland on

I suddenly had very bad cystic acne when I was 19 years old. I was put on Accutane for 3 months and after about a month, the acne was completely gone. When I was 21 it suddenly came back. I went back to the dermatologist and he told me that sometimes people have to come back for another round, and rarely a third round.

I was put on it for another 3 months, it started working after a month like the last time. I am 27 years old now and it has never come back. I may get a pimple here and there, but nothing like before.

I now have IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and I am almost positive it is from taking Accutane. Accutane is now being linked to IBS and Chron's Disease. I never had any problems before taking Accutane. I honestly can't say that I wouldn't take it again though. My acne was SEVERE and I had horrible self esteem issues because of it. I am just telling you my experience as an adult. Would I put my 11 year old daughter on it? NO!

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