Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Accutane: Jennifer’s story

Jennifer came to me years ago for a facial and has been a loyal, monthly client ever since. She is a lovely, conscientious woman in her late 20s. By her own admission, Jennifer is overweight. She doesn’t drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes, but she does have a wicked sweet tooth; something she has “no control” over.

Throughout our years together, I have seen Jennifer’s skin go through many ups and downs. She has attempted to lose weight many times, unable to find a way to drop the unwanted pounds. The same holds true for her attempt at eliminating sugar from her diet. Jennifer’s skin is now and has always been broken out—sometimes severely. She truly has an acneic condition—comedones, milia, pustules, and cysts. I am not saying that sugar is the sole reason for her skin problems, but sugar is a top factor in how her skin appears and how her skin is indeed functioning, or rather dysfunctioning.

After trying all the different routes to “curing” her acne and without changing her lifestyle habits and dietary choices, Jennifer decided to take the leap into Accutane. Because her acne had become so severe, I actually was in agreement and thought this would make an interesting case study.

Jennifer’s skin improved on Accutane—temporarily. It was definitely helping with the large cysts under her skin as well as helping to stop new cysts from developing. If new problem areas did come, they were smaller and less noticeable. Both Jennifer and I were encouraged with her progress and she surely thought her skin problems were over.

Jennifer’s treatment course ended, and eventually so did her clear skin. Within a six-month period, her skin was right back where it started, and Jennifer was depressed. And no doubt her emotions were also fueling her food intake. She was gaining weight along with her skin breaking out again.

Talk and counsel her as I did, I couldn’t get Jennifer to stop eating sugar and other foods even though she knew they were huge contributors to her skin problems. It’s true that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make her drink. Jennifer went on to take several rounds of Accutane. All helped for a period of time, but then her problems would always return.

My point in sharing Jennifer’s story with you is to illustrate how denial and reliance on drugs and medications will not necessarily get you clear skin. Maintaining awareness and making conscious choices are always the best ways to achieve a goal. And if your goal is clear skin and you have an acneic condition, before taking medications, ask yourself what you may be doing to contribute to your circumstances. Acne is happening for a reason. It is up to you to decide how you are contributing to your problem skin.

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