The Perfect/Imperfect Drug
Accutane (or isotretinoin) is both a marvelous drug and a potentially harmful one. It was first marketed to treat cystic acne, and quickly became the “go-to” drug for many dermatologists, as the overall improvement in skin quality became obvious. Its exact mechanism is unknown; however, several studies have shown that it produces programmed cell death (apoptosis) of certain cells in the body – including sebaceous (oil-producing) ones. The downside is that it can also affect many other cells in the body, including the eyes, ears, liver, GI tract, and fetal cells, as well as cause permanent scarring.
When to Use
Only use this medicine if prescribed by a licensed physician who must register each patient on an FDA-mandated website called iPLEDGE. In addition, extra testing must be performed for females, as isotretinoin is a teratogen. Usually, a six-month minimum course is recommended to visualize the intended results: reducing cystic acne.
Having a Surgical Procedure While Taking Accutane
Although there is insufficient evidence for delaying mechanical dermabrasion or incisions, the current recommendations are to avoid elective surgical procedures for at least six months following cessation of Accutane.