What is Accutane or Absorica/Isotrentinoin?

Absorica/Isotrentinoin formerly called Accutane is a powerful synthetic drug derived from Vitamin A. Accutane is the “big gun” in acne therapy and it should be used as a last resort when other treatments fail or when we are dealing with a very severe case of acne. Accutane is administered in an oral pill form and is extremely effective for acne treatment. Our dermatologist in Irvine Orange County, Dr. Parvin Shafa is an expert in treating Acne using Accutane. Visit us to learn more about your treatment options

How effective is Accutane?

Although acne may worsen within the first few weeks of Accutane therapy, the ultimate result is amazing with a 95% success rate. The best result is achieved after a cumulative dosage of 100 to 120 mg per kg body weight is taken, usually within 3 to five months. Its relapse rate is 25%.

Why can’t I just take Accutane to get rid of my acne?

The use of Accutane for moderate acne is controversial because Accutane can have serious side effects. You would not want to kill an insect with a gun. Similarly, you would not want to treat moderate acne with Accutane if other options would be just as effective. However if your acne is severe and out of control, the use of Accutane should be considered.

Is Accutane the first choice for very bad acne?

No, some of the severe cases of acne will still respond to more gentle treatments if alternative treatments have never been tried. Dr. Shafa will consult with you regarding your options.

iPLEDGE for Accutane treatment

iPLEDGE is a computer-based program for patients and healthcare providers that ensures that all female patients understand that they should not be pregnant or become pregnant while they are on Accutane or similar Retinoids. Every single physician that desires to prescribe Accutane and pharmacists dispensing Accutane must be registered with iPLEDGE. All patients, regardless of gender, must also enroll in the iPLEDGE program before physicians can give them a prescription for Accutane. This program was developed by the FDA to reduce the chance of pregnancy and exposure of fetuses to Accutane because even one single dosage of this drug can harm an unborn fetus. Due to all this extra complicated work, some dermatologists have decided not to prescribe Accutane. For more information about this matter, please see the iPLEDGE website.

When am I possibly a candidate for Accutane treatment?

Please call us or visit Dr. Parvin Shafa at our Irvine location in Orange County, if you meet the criteria below for Accutane treatment.

  • If you have severe nodular cystic painful extensive acne that failed all other treatment options that have been tried with a sufficient dosage of medication, in a proper combination therapy, and for the correct duration of treatment.
  • If acne is causing scaring and disfiguration of the skin.
  • After a patient has studied and understands all the risks and benefits of the medication, including known devastating side effects on a fetus.
  • If female patients are willing to use double contraceptive protection.
  • Patients must register on iPLEDGE and sign a consent form.
  • Patients must remain in contact with the physician regarding any concerns or unexpected and unwanted side effects.

What are the side effects?

The result of Accutane treatment on severe acne is dramatic, however the side effects can range from mild and reversible to life threatening in rare cases. For more extensive information, please search online about the side effects of Accutane. I will review a few of the most common side effects and a few of serious unwanted effects as well:

  • The most common side effects of Accutane include dry skin, dry mucous membrane (mouth and nose) and cracks in the corners of the mouth (chilitis). Joint pain and and an increase in blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels are not uncommon.
  • Serious side effects of Accutane include danger for an unborn fetus. Accutane must NEVER be taken while a patient is pregnant or at risk of becoming pregnant – even when a female is using double contraceptive modalities. Remember that Accutane kills rapidly dividing cells and therefore affects the fetus severely for the same reason it is a treatment for acne. Mothers that are breastfeeding must also avoid Accutane.

Contact Us!

If you are suffering from acne, feel free to call us to make an appointment to see Dr. Shafa. During your appointment, Dr. Shafa will evaluate your skin as well as overall health. After the type and cause of acne is diagnosed, Dr. Shafa will explain the variety of treatment options best suited to your needs and help select the best regimen for you and your skin. If you have questions prior to your visit, please do not hesitate to ask here.