My Accutane (Isotretinoin) Journey – Day 1

It has been a very long while since I posted anything over here and I thought of getting back in the thick of it by introducing to you a series.

But first, let me rewind a bit: It has been a very hectic year. VERY. I have just finished my Masters in Medical Physics/Medical Chemistry and begun my Masters in Theoretical Physics, so as you can imagine, the workload is tremendous.

I have 1 year of course-work and 1 year of thesis/dissertation work awaiting for me.

So I apologize for going MIA over here and over youtube, but if you miss me, I am very active over at Instagram πŸ™‚

Ok, now that -hopefully- I have somewhat redeemed myself, let’s start by addressing the shocker: Accutane.

Let me carefully introduce to you the magic crystal ball that will allow us to go back in time so you can understand the circumstances:

I have struggled with acne since I was 9 years old and have triedΒ everything on the face of earth. Including Accutane, multiple times.

My last full accutane cycle (I have had 2 smaller cycles in addition, useless ones if you ask me) was roughly 7 years ago and that did grant me a very clear skin for some years and then somewhat clear skin and then full blown nodule / cysts re-appeared.

I did not want to go back on accutane because I am aware of the side effects, so I had been hoovering around other treatments (both RX and nonRX) for 3 years now.

Biologique recherche worked for a while, until it no longer did. Until everything just became so much worse than before.

The striking point for me was last August, while at a spa, I stepped inside of a rainfall shower and the water stream hurt my face so bad – the areas where I had acne. I realized I could not stay like this anymore. It isn’t much about aesthetics (I don’t mind going out with my acne all in its glory), but the pain and itchiness from the inflammation. My skin constantly being swollen and warm.

So I made an appointment with a recommended dermatologist and when he saw me he said I need accutane. Of course, I knew that. I responded so well last time, but I am one of the unfortunates that needs multiple cycles.

In addition, my previous ‘full’ cycle might not have been ‘strong’ enough to completely get rid of it.

So here I am, on day 1 of accutane. I will try to be as detailed and informative as possible:

PROCESS:

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If you live in the US, Isotretinoin treatment is heavily guarded. If you are a female, you will need 2 negative pregnancy tests (one when you first agree to enter the Isotretinoin program called iPledge, and one 30 days later before they authorise the dispensement of the medication). In addition, you will need a blood lipid panel before you start.

Once that is done, your dermatologist enters all the info on the iPledge system and you also fill in the iPledge questionnaire online using your identification card that your dermatologist gives you. Then you go to the pharmacy with the card and they give you the 30 day dose.

Before the 30 day is over, you go back to your derm, discuss your progress and get a blood lipid panel and a pregnancy test if you are female. You must have that pregnancy test negative to get the next 30 day dose dispensed and also re-fill the questionnaire on iPledge system.

And so on for the duration of the treatment and 1 month after completion of the treatment. So yes, it is a very serious drug that requires serious responsibility.

The dosage and length of treatment is determined by multiple factors, including weight and treatment response.

STARTING ACCUTANE, WHAT TO EXPECT:

From a seasoned Accutane user, I can speak from my experience:

Side effects will occur. Some are more common than others.

What I experienced was (in order of first appearance):

  • Chapped lips
  • Muscle soreness
  • Muscle tightness
  • Mild headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Joint soreness

I personally did not have dry skin besides mild chapped lips. I continued to use strong glycolic acids thorought my treatment.

As a matter of fact, my dermatologist told me I can continue my regular skincare routine, if I feel that something is drying me out too much then I just pull it out and add more emollient skincare.

Only thing he recommended me to stop was retin-a 0.1%, since it might just give unnecessary dryness, but I can continue all my acids and retinol.

As for the more systematic side effects, the most bothersome was the muscular part. But that appeared around my 2nd or 3rd month of treatment and it peaked by the end with the joint pain. They subsided within a month or two of finishing the cycle.

For me, my skin cleared VERY fast. Within couple weeks I saw much cleared skin (no congestion or blackheads) and then the cystic acne healed and no more reappeared. Of course, this is very personal and some people breakout badly initially. Just know that both are possible, rapid worsening followed by improvement and rapid improvement.

There are many other possible side effects, certain ones you need to call your doctor right away, but more common ones like what I described, as long as they aren’t unbearable, they are part of the treatment.

CURRENT SKINCARE:

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My skin is not very oily. It cycles in the month from dry to combination. I have a basic structure that I follow for my routine and swap out products depending on how my skin is doing. I will be adjusting it as I need and will make sure to make weekly follow-up posts for you guys to see what is happening.

AM:

  1. Some type of balm cleanser (Eve lom morning balm / Natura Bisse Diamond cleanser / Biologique Recherche Lait U or Lait VIP O2)
  2. If I do a mask, I will usually do an acid type of mask (Glamglow clearing mask, Biologique Recherche Masque Vivant, Tacha Violet-C radiance mask, Tata Harper Clarifying mask). If I don’t do a mask, I will use an acid toner (Biologique recherche P50 1970, Cane and Austen 30% glycolid pads, Skinmedica rejuvenating toner)
  3. I use a mist (Dermalogica antioxidan hydramist etc…)
  4. I apply a serum (I have some from Biologique recherche that I am finishing up)
  5. I apply either a moisturizer and then sunscreen, or I use my Verso day cream and add more sunscreen on top.
  6. I make sure to mist an spf throughout the day (Such as amore pacific resort mist spf 30)

PM:

  1. Oil/Balm pre-cleanse
  2. Cleanser
  3. Acid tone
  4. Mist
  5. BioEffect serum (I seriously love this stuff, wonderful for healing)
  6. If my skin is dry, I add some emollient cream like Dr. Dennis Gross vitamin c+collagen

And you may have noticed earlier, I also got an RX for Aczone. This was mainly for my complaint that my acne wakes me up at night (it does, unfortunately. I get inflammation ‘attacks’ at night where it starts to burn, swell and itch where the new cyst is forming). So I will keep that cream in the areas that I need to calm down whenever I need it.

THE BEFORE PICTURES:

Now onto the juicy part that I believe most are interested about. My ‘before’ pictures. Yes, I might look like I have pretty good skin on IG but that is because I know how to cover up acne pretty well. Over 2 decades of experience isn’t useless.

 

 

Anyways, I am thinking of making a video on how to cover your acne effectively as my goodbye to this πŸ™‚

I will be updating weekly with how I am doing, skincare changes, any side effects and also pictures. I hope you find this journey interesting and informative and as always, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to leave a comment, email me or if you want a very fast reply, message me over Instagram.

 

 

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