If Accutane is the most effective medication for acne, why are some acne sufferers so reluctant to take it that they have to even ask “is Accutane worth it?”  Especially if Accutane, for some acne sufferers, might be the only treatment available that is able to provide the desired result of improvement.

In order to understand this point, we have to examine the strong headwinds that acne sufferers encounter in their pursuit of clear skin.

Acne is undervalued in our current healthcare system

Most acne sufferers are commonly shuffled through the health care system without achieving improvement.  They become trapped in a system that undervalues the significance of their acne and fails to adequately address their concerns.

This is especially true for those with “mild acne.”  Notice that I use quotation marks for “mild acne.”  This is because the designation of acne as “mild” is very arbitrary and is usually based on a visual assessment of one’s degree of breakouts.

What’s missing in this arbitrary designation are the underlying effects on an acne sufferer’s emotional and psychological well being resulting from even “mild” acne breakouts.

Most medical providers tend to dismiss “mild acne” as an unimportant condition that does not need significant intervention.  They fail to even consider the possibility that what they perceive as “mild acne” might be having a very real psychological and emotional burden on the affected patient.

Case in point: how often does a dermatologist ask an acne sufferer how their acne makes them feel?  Or what is their treatment goal?

These questions are seldom asked during a rapid in-and-out visit with many busy dermatologists, especially for patients who are experiencing what is perceived to be “mild acne.”

This is because, when it comes to “mild acne” there exists a very real disconnect between what our healthcare system typically defines or perceives as a serious medical condition and the very real consequences that acne, even what’s perceived as “mild acne,” has on an acne sufferer’s emotional well being.

So with this shortcoming in mind, the option of Accutane for “mild acne” is seldom offered by dermatologists.  Unfortunately, acne sufferers quickly fall in line with this ever present albeit flawed messaging and begin to believe that systemic treatments, such as Accutane, are typically not on the table as a treatment option for their condition.

This is further evident in the dermatologist’s exam room where time is seldom devoted to a thorough explanation of different treatment options and whether a prescribed therapy will likely result in completely clear skin or if it will likely provide only a smaller degree of improvement.

Unfortunately, many dermatologists typically do not even consider treatments beyond topical creams, let alone Accutane, for patients with “mild acne.”

All too often dermatologists spend very little time with acne sufferers and commonly prescribe the same treatment over-and-over-again for every patient with acne.  They seem to overlook the special needs of acne sufferers in general not to mention the very unique needs of each acne sufferer individually.

A thorough discussion of all treatment options including Accutane, which can take a significant amount of time, seems to occur much too infrequently in busy general dermatology offices.

No wonder that many acne sufferers with “mild acne” fail to improve even after visiting a dermatologist.

Helpful information is difficult to find

The lack of communication that often accompanies a visit with a busy dermatologist contributes to the difficulty in answering the question “is Accutane worth it for mild acne?”

Without an opportunity to have a productive discussion with a dermatologist about the pros and cons of Accutane, acne sufferers often have to rely on information they find through other sources.

This can be very challenging for the acne sufferer as well as for the dermatologist alike, who often has to dispel misinformation that has been obtained through unreliable sources about different acne treatments.

When it comes to Accutane, the internet is full of questionable information which makes it very difficult for an acne sufferer to determine the real risks and benefits of Accutane just by surfing online.

Yet, because of the tendency of our health care system to inadequately address the unique concerns and special needs of acne sufferers, especially those with “mild acne,” many will continue to undergo one treatment after another without ever achieving significant improvement.

Is “mild acne” really mild?

In the case of acne sufferers who are experiencing acne breakouts that are generally not considered severe by dermatology providers, obtaining successful treatment can be challenging.  This tendency to equate the degree of visible breakouts to the severity of acne is often very detrimental to an acne sufferer’s treatment success and ultimate well being.

This is because many medical providers fail to appreciate the invisible aspects of acne, i.e. the emotional consequences that can severely affect an acne sufferers quality of life.

This lack of understanding is very unfortunate and can lead to the under-treatment of these affected individuals with medications that are not likely to provide the desired results, including the reluctance of the providers to prescribe Accutane, especially for “mild acne.”

Tendency to avoid Accutane as a treatment option

While most medical providers appreciate the importance of Accutane in the context of quality of life for their patients, some non-dermatologist providers who tend to lack experience prescribing Accutane are hesitant to recommend it.

This tendency to avoid recommending or referring a patient for consideration of Accutane can serve to place even greater distance between an acne sufferer and the potentially life changing benefit of Accutane therapy.


In conclusion, if you ask “is Accutane worth it for mild acne,” for those who have no other option, achieving relief from the frustration and negative psychological effects of acne can be life changing.  For these, the alternative of not taking Accutane can be equally consequential and may lead to continued frustration and a decrease in many aspects of one’s quality of life.

Prior to considering if Accutane is a treatment option for any form of acne, from mild to severe, it is essential to visit a dermatologist and discuss the pros and cons and risks and benefits of Accutane treatment to determine if Accutane is right for each individual’s circumstances.

The Advanced Acne Institute is a unique dermatology practice located in Miami, Florida specializing only in the treatment of acne.   We focus solely on providing the most effective treatments to help our patients achieve clear skin.  We are pleased to share our insights and perspectives in acne treatment as an educational service, however this information is provided strictly for educational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice and is not a substitute for seeking the advice and treatment by an appropriate medical professional.

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