Muscle Sport Magazine

ROACCUTANE (Isotretinoin)

By Leigh Penman – 

Roaccutane is the brand name for the drug isotretinoin and is used in the treatment of severe acne. It is classified as a retinoid and is made from a synthetic form of vitamin A.

Vitamin A plays a very important role in the maintenance of healthy skin. It assists in the release of oil from the oil glands and it also aids in skin renewal. As a form of vitamin A, Roaccutane is one of the most effective treatments available for people with severe or cystic acne. In fact 69-75% of those who used this product experienced a significant decrease in breakouts or a complete remission of acne. Even those who have failed to respond to other treatments seem to benefit from its use.


Roaccutane works by shrinking the sebaceous glands within the dermis, which in turn reduces the amount of oil produced. The reduction in oil in turn leads to less clogging of the pores and therefore a reduction in breakouts.

It is commonly used for periods of 16-20 weeks followed by a period of rest. If, after this initial treatment, a noticeable improvement has not been observed another course may be prescribed. However, it is usually the case that 1 course is all that is needed to produce results and only about 20% of those who use Roaccutane require a second course.

It is very important that the drug is taken for the entire period prescribed – even if skin becomes clearer early on in the course. Early termination of treatment could lead to a relapse.


Roaccutane is a drug that comes with significant side effects. Most people who use it will experience chapped lips, dry skin and itching, dryness of the nose, mild nosebleeds, irritation of the eyelids and eyes, joint and muscle pain. Some users will also experience temporary hair thinning, headache, increased sensitivity to sunburn, decreased night vision.

More serious side effects such as nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, severe chest or abdominal pain and difficulty swallowing are the exception rather than the rule.

Roaccutane may also pose a threat to the liver and it is recommended that regular blood tests be conducted throughout its use – with a baseline reading taken before you begin a course of treatment.

Serious mood changes have also been noted by those taking Roaccutane ranging from depression to suicidal thoughts and psychosis.

Given the above, this is definitely not a drug to be taken lightly. However, severe acne can be extremely painful and socially debilitating for most people and the long-term advantages are often considered to outweigh the short-term risks.

Roaccutane is a very popular drug in Hollywood and the world of modeling where perfect skin is almost a job requirement.


The most significant side effect with Roaccutane concerns its effect on the unborn fetus. If a pregnant woman takes even one dose she risks causing major birth defects on the baby’s eyes, ears, face, skull, heart or brain. If a woman is sexually active and could become pregnant it is mandatory that birth control be used in conjunction with Roaccutane. In fact, if obtaining this drug directly from a doctor, a woman must sign a written consent to use birth control. Negative pregnancy tests must also be submitted 30 days prior to beginning treatment and before getting each prescription filled. At least two months should elapse following termination of treatment before it is considered safe to become pregnant.

It is not known whether Roaccutane taken by men can cause birth defects, so it is best not to get a woman pregnant while taking it just to be on the safe side.

Roaccutane is an extremely potent drug and it is often a last resort for people who have tried all other forms of acne treatment. There is no doubt that it works; you just have to be very aware of the side effects. It is certainly not an ancillary drug to be used without adequate education and knowledge.

N.B. You can find out more about Roaccutane by visiting

Leigh Penman, in addition to be a staff writer at MuscleSport Mag, has been writing for bodybuilding magazines, websites and nutritional supplement companies since 1985. Whilst residing in the UK, she earned the reputation of being one of the top female writers in bodybuilding-related media. Her credits included being a contributing editor on all the magazines in production as well as filling the shoes of Ladies Editor and Showbiz Editor on two publications (the later being on Arnold’s sanctioned magazine, ‘Bodypower’). During this time she also competed successfully on four occasions (placing in the top four in all contests).

Relocating to New York in the late 1990s she focused her writing attention to crystal healing techniques and metaphysics – however, she still maintained a five day workout schedule during this time and gained her personal training certificate.

Having also studied pharmacology in relation to sports performance, her writing began taking her in that direction until the present day which sees her embarking on a return to the magazine world, as well as extending her web-related work in the bodybuilding and fitness field.

Leigh has been working out for close to thirty years so she is clearly a writer who ‘walks her talk.’

She can be contacted personally at 

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