Accutane® (isotretinoin) has long been the go-to treatment for severe acne, but its potential for serious side effects has left many patients and dermatologists seeking safer alternatives. As we move toward acne treatments that rely less heavily on systemic medication, photodynamic therapy (PDT) and Accure laser treatments have emerged as safer and often more effective alternatives. 

Why is Everyone Scared of Accutane?

Accutane is a powerful pill that works by reducing the skin’s oil production, which can help with acne. It also fights inflammation and acne-causing bacteria. While Accutane can be highly effective for treating severe acne, it also comes with a long list of potential side effects that can range from annoying to dangerous including:

  • Extremely dry skin, eyes, lips, and nose
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Headaches
  • Vision problems
  • Stomach issues
  • Liver damage
  • Depression and mood changes
  • Severe birth defects if taken during pregnancy

See what Reddit users say about the side effects of Accutane: 

Reddit comments of people describing various side effects they got from Accutane

It’s no wonder that many people are weary of starting Accutane with these potential adverse effects.

What Are the Alternatives to Accutane?

Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)

Photodynamic therapy, or PDT, is an acne treatment that uses a special laser and light-activated solution to target acne. Here’s how it works:

  1. A special solution is applied to the skin and left on for a short time.
  2. The skin is then exposed to specific lasers and lights that activate the solution.
  3. The activated solution helps to shrink oil glands, reduce inflammation, and kill acne-causing bacteria.

The result? Clearer skin with minimal side effects and no downtime. You can get back to your regular activities right after the treatment.

  • How it works – Light-activated treatment that targets acne-causing bacteria and oil glands
  • Potential side effects – Redness, swelling, and sunlight sensitivity
  • Treatment duration – 1-3 in-office sessions
  • Recovery time – Temporary, peaking at 48-72 hours up to one week
  • Results – Sustained clear skin for many patients
acne before and after PDT treatment at CLDerm

Accure Laser 

The Accure laser is an innovative acne treatment that uses laser energy to precisely target the oil glands responsible for acne. By delivering controlled energy to these glands, the Accure laser helps to reduce their activity, decrease inflammation, and suppress the growth of acne-causing bacteria. 

Accrue offers a safe and effective solution for acne, with minimal side effects and short recovery times. It can also be combined with chemical peels, pulse dye laser (PDL), Intense Pulsed Light (IPL), red and blue light treatments, and photodynamic therapy (PDT) for enhanced results.

  • How it works – Laser treatment that reduces oil production and inflammation
  • Potential side effects – Temporary redness, swelling, and crusting
  • Treatment duration – 3-4 in-office treatments
  • Recovery time – Minimal – you can resume your normal activities the same day
  • Results – Sustained skin clearance for many patients
accure for acne before and after the treatment

Watch Dr. Loyal Explain Why the Accure Laser Is an Effective Alternative to Accutane

Are Alternatives to Accutane Worth the Cost?

When choosing an acne treatment, it’s important to think about how it will affect your skin and overall health, now and in the future. Accutane may seem like a quick fix covered by insurance, but its potential for adverse effects and the need for regular check-ups can make it a less appealing option.

PDT and Accure laser treatments offer a more targeted approach to treating acne, without the body-wide risks that come with Accutane. While these treatments may not be covered by insurance, they can be a smart investment in your skin health. By treating acne effectively now, you can help prevent the development of acne scars, which can be much more difficult and costly to treat later on.

Plus, PDT and Accure laser treatments have a bonus: they can help boost your cell’s production of collagen, elastic fibers, and hyaluronic acid which can improve your skin texture and give you a healthy, refreshed appearance. So, while the upfront cost may be higher than Accutane, the long-term benefits of these alternative treatments can make them a worthwhile investment in your confidence and well-being.

Schedule an Appointment for Acne Treatment with a Dermatologist in San Diego

If you’re seeking alternative treatments to Accutane, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with a board-certified dermatologist at Cosmetic Laser Dermatology. They can evaluate your unique skin concerns, discuss the potential risks and benefits of each treatment option, and help you make an informed decision that aligns with your goals and values. We are one of the only practices in the country offering Accure and were the first to offer the treatment in San Diego, giving our patients access to the most advanced acne solutions available. Contact us today to get help for stubborn acne.


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