Before I get started, I just want to state that this post is not promoting Accutane – it’s a personal decision I made as a result of many years of frustration with my skin and was not a decision I took lightly. Accutane is a serious drug with serious side effects and is not for everyone; speak with your dermatologist about what plan of action is best for you.
If you follow me on Instagram and watched my stories about a month ago, you probably heard my announcement that I’m starting Accutane. And if you’ve been following The Southern Sooner for a while, you probably also saw my post describing my skin and struggle with acne. But to recap, I’ve been struggling with chronic, cystic acne since puberty; but I remember that I started to hit my wall with it my sophomore year of high school, which led me to start seeing my dermatologist. I wish I had pictures to show from before starting treatments, but since I felt so uncomfortable in my own skin, I’ve deleted/hidden most pictures of me from that time of my life (but the next pictures will be a pretty close representation of how it was).
He prescribed me some antibiotics and some topical creams to get me started – and it helped get rid of a lot of my superficial blemishes, but a lot of bruising and deep, cystic pimples still remained, especially around my mouth/chin. I started taking Spironolactone for its androgen suppressing qualities, which did help the cystic acne subside some. But after a few months of being on it, I noticed some funny side effects and stopped taking it for about a year, until my acne and bruising started to flare back up again.
It’s been 3 and 1/2 years since I started taking Spironolactone again, and it’s always been with a combination of antibiotics and topicals to try and help get rid of what the Spironolactone didn’t.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the Spironolactone does help keep the worst of my acne at bay – but it’s far from a perfect solution for me. My breakouts still rear their ugly head despite it. So much so, that the first thing my dermatologist said at my followup appointment in November was, “wow, are you still taking your medicine?”
lol alright, ouch.
But I pretty much felt the same way looking at my face that day. People tell me all the time that my face doesn’t seem “that bad” or “doesn’t seem bad enough to go on Accutane,” but to me, knowing that I’ve been trying treatment after treatment for the last 8 years without a solution that seems to truly work for me, I just feel frustrated. I’ll have some periods of clarity, but it doesn’t last long before the next breakout comes along.
The following is how my acne looked the day I went in for my followup in November:
And this is my face a week or two later, to show y’all that it is a consistent, ongoing problem:
My dermatologist’s solution was to try and add a third pill of Spironolactone to my daily routine, add an antibiotic, two new topicals, and continue using the prescription face wash I’ve been on.
Five. Prescriptions. Two of them alone cost over $42. At this point, not only is acne getting annoying and the routine of treating it getting exhausting, but now it’s getting expensive. And don’t get me wrong – I love my dermatologist. He’s the one I’ve been seeing since high school and he’s done nothing but bend over backwards to find a solution for me – he even offered to do photodynamic therapy treatments for free simply because he knows how frustrating this issue has been for me (but my insurance didn’t end up covering the medicine I’d need to do the treatments… boo).
Accutane was always what he called his “triple Z plan” because both he and my mom (who would go to my appointments with me in high school) knew how serious of a drug it is – and in the beginning, I was totally fine with trying the safer options, because why try the big bad if you don’t need it?
But I basically told him in November I was tired of fighting the battle and not seeing any change. Everyone tried to tell me the acne would go away, but at 23, I find myself unable to leave the house just to go to Walmart without at least some makeup on, or feeling like I can’t wear certain colors like black, navy, or red (which is a serious issue for someone who adores wearing crimson… BOOMER) because it only accentuates all the redness on my face. I know I’m my own worst critic when it comes to my face, and perhaps my insecurities seem stupid or lame, but there are so many things in my life that revolve around my acne in order for me to try and make some peace with it.
At the time I’m writing the majority of this post, I have already gone through the preliminary blood work + approval process, and by the time this is posted, I’ll have already started the medication.
Most people who take Accutane generally experience incredibly dry skin + lips, eczema, headaches, some anxiety/depression, etc. It requires monthly blood work, which includes pregnancy tests for women as it causes severe birth defects, claiming two forms of birth control… lots of fun rules and requirements, right?
And while being on Accutane is going to have some obstacles, it finally gives me hope to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m excited for the days I can go somewhere without makeup and not feel like it’s painfully obvious to others that I didn’t put any effort into how I look; to be able to give myself a facial without making my acne angrier and redder, making me feel even more insecure about my face.
For those of you who are interested in following along, I’m planning on posting updates once a month so you’re able to track my progress and get realistic opinions on the medication if you yourself have acne and have been considering starting yourself. As I said at the beginning, though, just because I have made this decision for myself does not mean I am endorsing it. I just know that as someone who’s been looking to gather information over others’ experiences to make a decision for myself, I want to be able to do the same.
Thank you to those who have been expressing support since I announced I’d be taking the medication – hearing y’all’s/others’ success stories and opinions has helped me immensely with feeling like I made the best choice for myself.
Be sure to sign up for email notifications in the right hand panel or at the bottom of the post so you can stay up-to-date on my Accutane journey. Y’all’s support is everything!