Accutane is the most effective treatment for all forms of acne. Because of potential side effects associated with Accutane treatment, it is frequently considered by acne sufferers as a “last resort” when “nothing else has worked.”
This prompts the common question asked by many acne sufferers: “is Accutane worth it?”
Making the decision to take Accutane or not relies on carefully weighing the pros and cons and risks and benefits of Accutane therapy. Just like any medication, Accutane has its good points as well as the potential for various side effects. Both sides of the issue must be carefully considered in order to conclude which decision is right for each individual.
Risks versus benefits
Because of various concerns and claims, some of which are unproven, about the safety of Accutane, many acne sufferers are hesitant and make the decision to forego treatment with this very effective therapy. While understandable, this can unfortunately lead to the inability to achieve control of their acne which can result in a significant decrease in quality of life for many acne sufferers.
So this brings us back to the question “is Accutane worth it?”
In order to answer this question, each acne sufferer must consider the benefits of Accutane treatment, i.e. finally achieving clear skin and ending the constant frustration of continual breakouts, versus the risks of Accutane therapy such as the potential for side effects.
The benefits of Accutane therapy
Let’s consider the benefits fist.
Acne can have very profound and sometimes very limiting negative effects on an acne sufferer’s quality of life. At the Advanced Acne Institute, we routinely measure the effects of acne on various aspects of one’s quality of life.
For example, feelings of frustration, sadness, feeling insecure, feeling less confident at work and being less likely to go out with friends, are just some of the quality of life measures that we find are commonly experienced by acne sufferers.
Coping with the emotional impact of acne can significantly affect one’s social interactions, personal relationships and even one’s job performance. The constant strain of managing these negative feelings can take a very profound toll on overall quality of life.
In addition to the emotional consequences of acne, the physical factors are also important. Scarring from acne can cause permanent skin disfigurement that can be a lifelong reminder of an acne sufferers prior struggle with acne.
Breakouts can also be physically uncomfortable. They can itch or be painful causing significant discomfort.
These considerations support the benefit of Accutane. This is especially true when no other treatments have provided any relief.
Accutane treatment is the most effective acne medication in the world. By gaining control over the significant toll that acne can take on one’s quality of life, making the decision to undergo treatment with Accutane can be life changing.
At the Advanced Acne Institute, we have seen patients who were initially overtaken by the negative effects of continual acne breakouts, overcome their prior limitations and regain a positive outlook because of the near curative benefits of Accutane.
We have seen patients who were previously socially withdrawn before taking Accutane, do an about-face and reengage in social interactions. Some have entered into new relationships, achieved promotions in their job, bought a new car, and other signs of positive momentum.
So overall Accutane can have a truly life changing impact of an acne sufferer’s state-of-mind.
The risks of Accutane treatment
Now let’s examine the risks.
While a discussion of all of the side effects of Accutane is beyond the scope of this post, let’s consider some of the common reasons acne sufferers give for not taking Accutane.
One of the most common concerns of acne sufferers is whether Accutane can harm the liver. This is often one of the fist concerns voiced by acne sufferers or parents of teen acne sufferers when the possibility of Accutane is raised.
Although there is much discussion of this potential side effect that can be found on the internet, the medical studies are not as conclusive in this direction, with some studies supporting the safety of Accutane and related medications in regard to liver effects.
In addition to supportive studies on Accutane with regard to liver safety, the liver is typically monitored with routine blood testing that is performed during Accutane treatment for added safety.
Another common concern that prompts the “is Accutane worth it” question relates to the possibility of mood changes. The medical literature is not definitive in this regard. In general, this topic is controversial.
In general, the consensus of studies has not shown a definitive cause-effect relationship between Accutane and some mood-related side effects. Nevertheless, as is the case with any medication, one must always take the potential for this and other side effects seriously and monitor closely.
Each acne sufferer considering Accutane treatment should discuss these and all other side effects carefully with their medical provider to ensure that Accutane is safe for them and their individual circumstances.
The risk of not taking Accutane
In addition to the risk of experiencing an adverse reaction to Accutane, there is an additional very serious risk that is often overlooked.
This additional risk is that of making the decision to not take Accutane.
Now that sounds a bit strange. If you’re not taking Accutane, how can you possibly experience a risk of the medication?
Well, the answer is actually quite straight forward. For those who forego Accutane out of concern over the possibility of experiencing one or more particular side effects, the effect of not achieving control of acne and its many serious emotional and psychological consequences is often inadvertently overlooked.
Parents of teenagers, for example, are often reluctant to authorize the use of any systemic treatment let alone Accutane, out of fear for the safety for their teen. In trying to protect their child however, they are inadvertently discounting the emotional burden experienced by their teenager who may be coping with the negative psychological effects of acne which can be debilitating for many acne sufferers.
While the decision to forego Accutane over the fear of side effects is very understandable, it is also important to understand that the risk of not selecting a particular treatment such as Accutane can have serious, albeit unintended, side effects of its own.
Acne sufferers and parents of acne sufferers, after thorough consultation with their medical providers, must individually weigh the risks of taking Accutane versus the risks of not taking Accutane for themselves and their individual circumstances in order to make a decision that’s right for them individually.
The Advanced Acne Institute is a unique dermatology practice located in Miami, Florida specializing only in the treatment of acne. We focus solely on providing the most effective treatments to help our patients achieve clear skin. We are pleased to share our insights and perspectives in acne treatment as an educational service, however this information is provided strictly for educational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice and is not a substitute for seeking the advice and treatment by an appropriate medical professional.