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How long is the usual course of oral isotretinoin before I see results?

Studies have shown that most cases of severe acne respond to a single 4 to 6 month treatment course and that the effect of oral isotretinoin, especially for those having severe nodulocystic acne, can be dramatic. It is known that, pustules heal more quickly than papules or nodules (What is papules, nodulocystic and nodules?). Also, lesions on our face, upper arms, and legs tend to respond more quickly than lesions on our back or chest.

Usually, it takes approximately 1 to 2 months after starting oral isotretinoin acne treatment to see real improvement in our acne condition. It is good to know that treatment may start at a lower dose in order for our skin to get used to the drug before increasing to a higher dose in the months that follow.

The result of oral isotretinoin treatment is that we will see fewer or no new lesions, further the lesions that do come up should be smaller and should resolve more quickly. Studies have shown that results tend to last for at least several months to years after stopping this acne treatment.

What follows are the laboratory evaluation procedures that get involved:

Pretreatment evaluation
Review of the side effects
Review of pregnancy/contraception (women only)
Review of informed consent booklet

Blood tests at pretreatment and on weeks 4 and 8
Baseline fasting cholesterol
Triglyceride level
Standard liver function test
Pregnancy test (women only)

Monthly evaluation
Review of the side effects
Review of birth control methods
Physical exam to document improvement
Answer questions and review results

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