• Alyssa Piperis

Pre-Accutane: Pros, Cons & Committing to Abstinence

OKAY. The ball is fiiiiinally rolling! It’s been a month and a half since one of my high school dermatologists highly recommended I take Accutane like my brother did when he was in high school (he only had to do one round and has had zero problems since then, so fingers crossed the same goes for me!). When I went home to visit my family and friends for the holidays, I made it a point to see my high school dermatologist (which my mom had to convince me to do, because I didn’t want to have to go makeup-free in my hometown out of fear I’d run into someone I know and have them see me covered in acne and scarring). Between having to update my insurance through my work and wait on a referral from my primary care physician to my new dermatologist’s office, it took a while for me to even get my first appointment to begin the process to take Accutane. As of today, the process has officially begun! I filled out my paperwork, gave the dermatologist my blood results, and peed in a cup to ensure my lack of pregnancy (saying “lack of pregnancy” is amusing to me, I dunno). I have my next appointment in a month, where I’ll take another pregnancy test (and there’ll be more after that) before I’m able to officially start that drug. Once I start, there’s consistent check-ins and tests over the next five to six months to make sure things are on the right track. And what usually happens is they start you on a fairly low dosage of the drug and gradually increase as your body gets more used to it.

I can’t even begin to express how ready I am for this. The last year and a half has been so bittersweet, because as happy and independent as I am in so many ways, my skin has negatively affected my life and decisions in more ways than a lot of people could begin to imagine.

I was so hesitant to accept that Accutane may be what I need, because I didn’t think my skin could get as bad as it has. I thought middle and high school were the worst for me in terms of my skin, but that has proven to be oh so false. I’ve gotten to a point where, as much as I prefer to go the all-natural, organic, holistic route when it comes to what I put on and in my body, I believe that Accutane is the solution I’ve been putting off for a while. And it’s not like Accutane is unnatural. In fact, Accutane is basically a very strong version of vitamin A and the closest thing there is to a cure for acne. Trust me when I say I’ve tried tons of alternatives to no avail. I’ve tried antibiotics, topical gels and creams, an all-natural skincare routine, a series of IDERM facials, changing my diet in different ways— and I gave all these things time. Accutane is the only thing I have faith in right now to get my skin on the right track, and I’m so eager to see where I am in six months time (the length of a round of Accutane).

As hopeful and excited as I am to complete the first (and hopefully only!) round in six months (six months from March), I also have my concerns. There are some serious self-esteem-dragging side effects I’m nervous to endure, and I know I’m probably in for a rough handful of months with dry, peeling skin, terribly chapped lips, potential nosebleeds and/or headaches, and possibly others. Side effects like mood swings, depression, and altered vision and depth perception are rare, but possible. There's also the possibility of having to do more than one round if need be. I'm also a little worried that the Accutane won't clear up the scarring as much as I'm hoping for. Scarring might be its own bigger issue to tackle through other methods once the active breakouts are gone. So, there's all that. Those are my main concerns. And then there's the fact that I have to commit to abstinence while I take the drug (other people choose different forms of birth control, but I don’t take birth control, so abstinence is the choice I made), because a major side effect for women is birth defects while pregnant. It sounds crazy and not like something I should have to worry about if I’m having safe sex, but that’s how it is, because things can happen that you don’t plan for. They want you to be extra careful while taking this drug, and that’s totally fine with me. Thankfully I’m single and not currently having sex, so this doesn’t affect my life in any significant way. So, yes, those are some of the risks and side effects, but it’s a small price to pay (assuming all goes mostly well, at least) to have my confidence back and be able to do all the things I purposely haven’t been doing because of my acne— i.e. getting new headshots, actively pursuing my acting career, wearing lipstick, sleeping over friends’ places, having sleepovers with guys I date, taking workout classes, going hiking with friends and romantic partners, traveling and going camping, etc., etc. times a million.

Alllll that being said, the journey is beginning! I’m debating doing a vlog series on YouTube as I go through my Accutane journey, so we’ll see what I decide about that. But I know I’ll update on here for sure, especially because this is about to be a huge part of my life. It’s a little crazy to think that because I’m committing to abstinence it’ll be almost exactly two years since I’ve had sex by the time I get through the round of it. Soooo, fingers crossed I don’t fall in love or find someone that makes me go crazy because I can’t have sex with them haha. I think I’ll be fine, but assuming all goes well and I come out of this confident about my skin, I’m going to be one confident woman with a very high sex drive! I guess that’s something to look forward to. AND, I'm reeeally looking forward to getting back to a natural, holistic skincare routine once I'm done with the pills. Now that I know how bad my skin can get, I won't dare take it for granted. I just want to get my skin clear and lock down a good morning and nighttime routine.

ALSO, here’s some current photos of my poopy skin (ugh these are always hard for me to share, but oh, well-- this is me right now) to show where it’s at now in comparison to the during and after photos I’ll be posting later on. Also also, sorry for calling you “poopy,” my skin. I know you’re trying in there.

I have no idea how it got this bad, but it did. It's crazy to think back to when I wrote this post in May with a whole nine-month timeline of progress photos --> https://www.thefilterlysslife.com/single-post/2017/05/18/Lifesaver-Natural-Skincare-Routine-Skin-Update-with-Photos. I thought everything was at its worst and getting better, but it's only gotten worse since then. I was convinced my skin was so bad before, but I would take that skin over this skin in a heartbeat right now. Oyyy, what a journey!

Aaaanyway, stay tuned! This is only the beginning…

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