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Question: Is it safe to drink alcohol while on Accutane?

“The short answer,” says Dr. Adam Mamelak. board-certified dermatologist at Sanova Dermatology in Austin, “is no. At the very least, you should drink in extreme moderation while using Accutane.”

Accutane, or its generic equivalent Isotretinoin, is a powerful medication that is used to treat acne as well as certain other skin diseases. “It’s really quite remarkable,” says Dr. Mamelak.”We’ve seen stubborn breakouts stop in their tracks.”

“I treat a lot of adults in their 30’s and 40’s, frustrated with persistent acne finally wanting to stop struggling with their skin,” says Dr. Miriam Hanson, dermatologist and aesthetic skin care expert at Sanova. “But I’m most impressed with the teens. These patients often come in with disfiguring and scarring acne, and leave with clear skin.”

“Accutane gets a lot of attention,” claims Dr. Mamelak, “but at the end of the day it produces results.”

Dr. Mamelak is referring to the number of side effects that have been attributed to and associated with Accutane use. For one thing one should not go on Accutane if one is pregnant or may become pregnant. Also one should not consume alcoholic beverages. There are a number of reasons for this.

Accutane can have certain effects on the liver which, combined with alcohol, can become dangerous. Accutane alone can, in certain cases, damage the liver, so combining it with alcohol can increase that damage. Also a combination of alcohol and Accutane can cause major alterations in the lipids in one’s blood. In some individuals, Accutane has been shown to cause elevations in blood cholesterol and triglycerides, a blood fat. Alcohol could increase those levels further. However most patients see a decrease of those lipids to normal levels after the course of Accutane is completed.

“This is one of the reasons why we monitor our Accutane patients so closely,” notes Dr. Hanson. “Our Accutane patients see us every month and get regular blood work to ensure they to don’t experience any of these adverse effects.”

It is recommended that one should consult with one’s dermatologist who is prescribing the Accutane to determine, based on one’s level of health and medical history, whether or not one can consume alcohol and of what amounts. For example, any prior problems with the liver would likely result in one avoiding alcohol altogether. Also if one is taking other medications, what the interactions between these drugs will have to be taken into account as well. Accutane is not for everybody and there are certainly alternatives. Other prescription medications, chemical peels, photodynamic therapy and other effective treatments exist for those who are not good candidates for this Accutane therapy.

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If you have persistent or severe acne problems, or have questions about Accutane therapy, contact Sanova Dermatology to schedule your appointment with one of our skin care experts.