Accutane and Isotretinoin: What are the Pros and Cons?

Updated: Aug 10, 2020

Generic Accutane (also called isotretinoin) is generally agreed among dermatologists to be the most consistently effective medicine for acne. Remember: acne is serious. It is not just a temporary cosmetic problem. Acne can change how we feel about ourselves and how others perceive us. Furthermore, deep acne can lead to permanent scarring. For these reasons, board-certified dermatologists take acne seriously.

Physicians are trained to always discuss risks, benefits, and alternatives with patients prior to embarking on any treatment. In other words: it’s important to talk about the pros and cons. So what are the “pros” of Accutane?

There are many “pros”: it is the most effective acne treatment. As a board-certified dermatologist, I’ve seen some of the worst scarring acne imaginable. Acne so bad that it is uncomfortable and people don’t want to leave the house. But generic Accutane can beat even severe acne. So it works: that’s a big deal. Another pro is that it’s simple: you just take the pill every day, there are no other prescription creams or complex regimens to follow. There’s also my favorite part: many patients will have long term clearance of their acne when they finish their course of isotretinoin. That means that when they quit, they may need no medicine at all to maintain their clear skin. And, if acne ever does come back, it is usually much more mild and easy to treat.

Okay- so there is a lot positive to say, but what are the cons? In the past, the biggest con was having to go to the doctor’s office and pharmacy every month. If you are on the medicine for 7 months, that’s at least 14 trips! This can be difficult or impossible for people who are busy working or in school (which happens to be the ages when most people get acne!). Luckily with our service, we cut out all these trips so that “con” disappears. But there are other things to consider as well.

Even with our service, starting generic Accutane is a big commitment. Women have to use the online iPLEDGE system which is mandated by the government to prevent pregnancy (Accutane causes serious birth defects if a woman gets pregnant while taking it). This involves logging on monthly and answering questions about your methods of birth control. Men and women have to get blood work (lab tests) and women have to have monthly pregnancy tests. The iPLEDGE system is also rather inflexible: if you forget to take a pregnancy test or to pick up your medication, you may get locked out of the system for a few weeks.

Finally, there are side effects with generic Accutane. Common side effects are dry skin and dry lips (stock up on lip balm and moisturizer!). There are important uncommon and rare side effects too (see our FAQ), so it is important that you are under the close care of a board-certified dermatologist who are experts in acne and in this medicine. Dr Porto, a dermatologist in Boston, says that "it is essential that patients are aware of side effects, including rare side effects, before deciding to take Accutane. This medicine really works, but you want to make sure you are well informed and under the care of an expert."

Our service only allows board-certified dermatologists onto our platform and we repeatedly screen for side effects to help ensure our patients get the best care. To see if you may be a candidate for generic Accutane online, consult with our dermatologists.


Strauss JS, et al. Isotretinoin therapy for acne: results of a multicenter doseresponse study. J Am Acad Dermatol 1984.

Hahm BJ, et al. Changes of psychiatric parameters and their relationships by oral isotretinoin in acne patients. J Dermatol. 2009.

Bernstein CN, et al. "Isotretinoin Is Not Associated with Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Population-Based Case-Control Study." Am J Gastroenterol. 2009.

Crockett SD, et al. A causal association between isotretinoin and inflammatory bowel disease has yet to be established. Am J Gastroenterol. 2009 Oct.

Reddy D, et al. Possible association between isotretinoin and inflammatory bowel disease. Am J Gastroenterol. 2006.

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