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Accutane is a useful product for removing facial blemishes that can be quite embarrassing, especially as you progress through the awkward teenage years. Better known in the medical world as isotretinoin, this has been a compound that has been studied for years to determine how useful it can be. In one study, it was determined that even low doses of Accutane can reduce production of sebaceous gland excretions, (the one responsible for pimples) by about 90 percent in as little as six weeks. This period is about as efficient as you can get in medicine because of the time it takes for physiological changes to occur and it is a big reason why products that have amounts of isotretinoin are gold mines for companies like Proactiv. [1]

Based on long-term outlooks, there are reasons why this type of product is so successful. It can work, and 85 percent of users report the disappearance of symptoms by four months while another 13 percent will see results by the 5th month of use. Unfortunately, even if this product does have a successful track record, it does not come without its own set of risk factors that you need to consider before you were to use this product. 

One of the more apparent risks that patients need to be aware of is that by using this type of medication, patients predispose themselves to potential weight gain by using this product. Studies show that although there is not a significant difference in weight of patients who use this product compared to those who do not, lab values showed that patients who used this medication tended to have higher levels of leptin in their body. Higher levels of leptin mean that there were higher levels of fats in the blood that can potentially lead to long-term problems with arteriosclerosis. [2]

Another well-known side effect of this type of medication is the potential effects it can have on fetuses during pregnancy. Accutane is a medication that has contraindications during pregnancy because of the teratogenic effects that studies confirm it has, which means that pregnant women using this drug are very likely to give birth to children with birth defects. 

The effects on male patients are inclusive, but some studies do indicate that there was a higher observed frequency of birth defects in the children of males using Accutane compared to those who didn't. This conclusion suggests that these dangerous properties of the medication can penetrate sperm and affect future pregnancies. Physicians recommend a wash-out period where you give your body a chance to get rid of the medicine before you try to have any children. A wash-out period is usually a 6-month wait period. [3]

The last side effect that can have the most dramatic impact on your quality of life is the effects isotretinoin will have on your ocular health. Studies indicate that patients who take this medication can experience: 

  • increased photo-sensitivity in their eyes
  • decreased night-vision 
  • and problems using contacts while on this medication. 

It is recommended that anyone who takes this medication routinely visit their eye doctor's to make sure they are tolerating the medication well enough to continue using it. 

There are some other side effects I have neglected to mention, but they are more tolerable than these probable side effects. Make sure you know the risks and rewards before taking this type of medication. 

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