For those of you who don’t know, Accutane is usually prescribed as a last-resort treatment for severe acne when other medications have failed. Treatment consists of taking oral medication daily for several months.
1. You never thought your skin could become so dry that it hurts.
Your face and lips constantly peel. Aquaphor Lip Repair becomes your best friend (it went everywhere with me for five months). It’s especially rough on your skin if your treatment runs during the dry, bitterly cold winter (which I was so lucky to experience).
2. The required monthly appointments and blood work for pregnancy, liver enzymes, and cholesterol grows a little old.
You go in every month, respond to the same set of questions (no, I am not experiencing joint pain; no, I do not have thoughts of harming others; etc.). And even though you are required to sign papers stating your commitment to using two birth control methods during the course of treatment, you still have to upload your pregnancy test results and answer tedious questions online every month before you are allowed to fill your prescription.
3. It feels like it will never get better…for a really long time.
Those of us who have struggled with acne know that no medication promises a quick recovery. I was told that I should start to see results at a certain point in my treatment. When that specific week came and went without any signs of improvement, I became fearful that Accutane was just another hopeless treatment. It seemed as if I was living my life based on the countless restrictions required if you take Accutane. However, one day, you realize that your skin looks ten times better. Soon after you realize it yourself, other people begin to notice and compliment you, which gives you one of the best feelings in the world.
4. You don’t freak out about one zit.
Getting a zit isn’t the end of the world because there’s a 95% chance that your skin will not revert back to its old patterns. I have to bite my tongue around people with clear skin who complain about an occasional zit. Yes, I realize that acne is never fun, but it could definitely be a lot worse. There are people out there who have spent years trying to find a way to get clear skin. A pimple is nothing to complain about.
5. Taking pictures is no longer a nerve-racking experience.
I cringe looking at old pictures of myself because I hate to remember how terrible my face looked. Now, I don’t dread taking pictures because I don’t fear how my complexion looks compared to others. I finally feel confident about my appearance, as if I can leave the house without makeup and not worry about everyone staring at me.
While the beginning of the journey is super frustrating, it really does get better. You don't realize it for quite some time, but this medication is a miracle worker. When I think back to my experience, five months of discomfort and inconvenience was totally worth it for clear skin (finally).