If you have ever thought about a Roaccutane therapy, you will know from experience that you can easily spend hours and days on doing your research. Sadly however, you are most likely going to end up being more confused than ever…
(If you don’t know what I am talking about, read Part One of my Clear Skin Series 🙂 ) First of all, keep in mind that almost every site on the internet that tries to convince your of how dangerous or fantastic Roaccutane is has got one very specific motivation: Most of these so-called well-intentioned pieces of information come from people that don’t only try to tell, but also to sell you something… So what do we really know about Roaccutane? I tried to break it down to the bare minimum of what a non-professional can know and therefore share without being irresponsible or relying on mere speculations.
- What is Roaccutane?
Roaccutane is a medication used to treat cystic acne that is based on the action of Isotretinoin. It was first sold under the name “Accutane” by Hoffmann-La Roche: Nowadays, you can find it under a variety of names, depending on the brand and the country you live in: Amnesteem, Claravis, Absorica, Isotroin, Epuris, Aknenormin, Ciscutan, Curakne, Decutan, Isocutan, Isoderm or Isogalen would be popular names in the US or in Germany.
- How does Roaccutane work?
Despite the variety of names, every Isotretinoin-based therapy will do the same thing for your skin: As a retinoid (a substance related to vitamin A), Isotretinoin will dramatically shrink the size of your sebaceous glands and thus lead to a decreased sebum output. Isotretinoin will also normalize the composition of the sebum itself. As a consequence, your sebaceous glands will become too small and be producing too little sebum to even be infected. Easy, right?
- Is that everything?
Unfortunately, no! There is a lot of research being done and studies seem to suggest that this drug – unlike every other – affects all four major pathogenic processes in acne: However, Roaccutane’s exact mechanism of action is still unknown up to this day.
- Should I wait until we know more?
Of course, it is always a safer option to use drugs that science “fully” understands. We might indeed one day find out about terrible side effects of Roaccutane that nobody had been aware of so far. However, Isotretinoin treatments have been around for over 30 years now with hundreds of thousands of happy and healthy patients who speak for themselves both in terms of results and of (im)possible (ir)reversible side effects. Try to consider every form of treatment very carefully and trade off the risk of (unknown) side effects against the damage severe forms of acne can afflict to your mental health.
Also, who would you be waiting for, really? You will not meet that one person that really knows for sure whether Roaccutane is safe for you or not. Roaccutane’s known side effects (about which I will talk in my next post) are just as real as is the a chance of yet unknown ones. I wish I could say otherwise, but the only thing I know for sure, as a former patient, is that ultimately, you just have to decide whether you want to take the risk!