Accutane (Isotretinoin) Treatment
Isotretinoin is a potent derivative of vitamin A that has been used for many years to permanently clear acne. This treatment is usually “the last resort” and can be used to clear severe, cystic, inflammatory, or stubborn/treatment resistant acne. The treatment course usually runs around 6 months and can have serious side effects. This treatment must be done with a dermatologist and all precautions taken to avoid or immediately recognize serious side effects.
The main side effects of isotretinoin are listed, but not limited to the following:
- Birth defects
- Liver damage
- Elevated triglycerides and cholesterol, possibly leading to pancreatitis and death
- Rashes, Stevens-Johnson syndrome
- Dry lips, dry eyes, dry nose, dry skin
- Joint pains, muscle pains
- Mood swings, depression
- Unknown association with inflammatory bowel disease
Do NOT share this medication with others or plan on donating blood.
Alert your dermatologist immediately if you have abdominal pains, headaches, rashes, depression, or inadvertant pregnancy.
Getting the medication
In order to receive isotretinoin, you must visit your dermatologist or other qualified physician that is allowed to dispense isotretinoin according to the iPledge Program. The iPledge Program was designed by the government to strictly regulate the dispensing of this serious medication in order to prevent birth defects and to promote communication between the patient, the doctor, and the pharmacy. Both you and your dermatologist will have information to input into this system in order to get you qualified for the medication.
The steps to getting started are the following:
- Visit your doctor and sign the consent forms
- Perform your initial bloodwork (liver panel, lipid panel, comprehensive panel +/- cell blood count)
- Register in the iPledge system, and answer the qualifying questions, if applicable. Female patients will need to be on two forms of birth control that must match what your physician’s office will put in on their end.
- Female patients will not be able to get their medication for 28 days until they complete a second blood or urine pregnancy test
- Once confirmed by your dermatologist’s staff, take your iPledge card to the pharmacy in order to receive your medication
- You MUST follow up with your dermatologist and get labs every single month for 6-7 months
Key points about Accutane (isotretinoin)
- This is a serious medication with serious side effects; alert your doctor immediately with any possible side effect
- This medication must be done with a dermatologist or a qualified physician
- You must be able to commit 6 months of physician visits, lab work, and pill-taking once or twice daily
- You must be registered on iPledge and you must follow the instructions every month in order to qualify for the medication
Still have questions about isotreatinoin and accutane treatments? Call us at 310.205.3555 or 818.914.7546, email us, or click on the chat box on the right lower edge of your screen. We’d be happy to help!