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Isotretinoin - Side Effects That Need Medical Monitoring By Your Physician

View the A-Detail™ on Accutane®.

Certain Isotretinoin (Accutane®) side-effects will not be as apparent to you and will need to be monitored by your doctor during your acne treatment. These include effects on your bones, lipids, liver, and pregnancy status.

Pregnancy:

  • This drug is teratogenic and causes fetal abnormalities.
  • YOU CANNOT RISK BECOMING PREGNANT. YOU MUST AVOID PREGNANCY 1 MONTH BEFORE, DURING, AND 1 MONTH AFTER USE OF THIS DRUG.
  • Pregnancy prevention programs are offered to ensure that you avoid getting pregnant. Talk to your doctor about this.

Bones:

  • Hyperostosis, osteophytes (bony spurs) may develop, but are usually of little consequence.
  • There is a possible risk that your bones will become thinner (osteoporosis). However, more work needs to be done, as studies have been inconclusive.
  • Premature closure of bony epiphyses can occur in children, which may reduce long bone growth.

Lipids:

  • Cholesterol/ triglyceride levels may increase: this must be followed by your doctor.
  • You may experience a short-term increase in cholesterol, though this is not thought to be very significant.
  • Pancreatitis is a risk if your triglycerides rise quickly and the level becomes high. This is very rare, however.

Liver:

  • May be mildly irritating to your liver. Blood tests occasionally show changes but they are usually of little consequence. It is rare to have to discontinue Accutane® because of liver abnormalities. Drug induced hepatitis has been reported

Neurologic:

  • A pseudotumor in the cerebrum can occur, which can cause increased brain fluid pressure, headaches, vomiting, and visual disturbances.
  • Depression and suicidal thoughts have been reported in some patients. Nobody knows for sure, though, if it was isotretinoin or other factors that caused these feelings.
  • You may experience Headaches

Muscloskeletal:

  • There is a risk of inflammation around joints, and tendonitis.
  • Aches and pains around joints, and lower back pain are common.
  • These symptoms do not produce permanent damage in the joints and often taking anti-inflammatory painkillers can give you relief.

Blood:

  • Your ability to produce white blood cells may be diminished (called leukopenia). However, this is rare.