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Does Accutane Cause Weight Gain? Accutane’s Surprising Side-Effect

So, you’ve been prescribed Accutane. You might finally be able to clear up your skin and put an end to the cycle of pesky breakouts and acne scarring. This should be a time to celebrate, right? While being prescribed Accutane will come as a relief to lots of acne sufferers, Accutane itself can come with a host of unpleasant side effects. One particular side effect that I hear a lot about is weight gain: many users who begin Accutane notice weight fluctuations and begin wondering if their new prescription is to blame. The truth of the matter is, that the research isn’t particularly clear on the subject. While the FDA currently does not recognize weight fluctuation as an Accutane side effect, many still report gaining and losing weight while taking this anti-acne medication. In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at why this treatment might cause weight fluctuations, and what to do about it.

So, does acne cause weight gain? Let’s take a look.

Does Accutane Cause Weight Loss or Weight Gain?

When you begin taking Accutane, your body is going to experience some fundamental changes. Because of this you may need to stop certain activities throughout the course of your prescription. Tanning, drinking alcohol, and even exercising come with complications while taking Accutane. Whether you’re taking Accutane for fungal acne or cystic acne or fungal acne, you’ll need to slightly moderate your lifestyle choices for the length of your treatment. 

So, why might taking Accutane cause weight gain? There are a few simple reasons, which I’m going to explain below:

Less Exercise

When you begin your treatment, your dermatologist or doctor will probably warn you about the potential side-effects of overdoing it at the gym while on Accutane. Not only are lethargy and extreme fatigue known as common Accutane side effects, but you’re also more prone to injury during exercise, as your skin becomes thinner and more sensitive. Therefore, any reduction in physical activity can lead to a bit of weight gain. If you’re typically hitting the gym but taking a break during your treatment, this might explain those extra lbs. To combat this, try light walking or fun, low-impact exercises such as swimming. 

Water Retention 

During your Accutane treatment, your body is going to go through several phases of dehydration. This is because Accutane works by shrinking the sebaceous oil glands that cause acne (and that also provide lubrication for your skin.) You’ll notice that your skin will become dryer and cracked, and you might also notice water retention. Fluid retention can lead to temporary weight gain, while also contributing to an overall feeling of bloatedness. While this type of Accutane-induced weight can isn’t long-lasting, it can still tip the scales up a couple of kilos and give you the impression that you’re gaining weight. 

Mental Health

While it remains a rare side effect, some who take Accutane notice a dip in their overall wellbeing, often developing mild symptoms of depression. Depression alone is often related to weight gain, as patients become more lethargic and unwilling to engage in physical activity. Depressed individuals can also develop a habit of eating junk or fast food rather than cooking fresh meals, which can also contribute to weight gain. Again, this isn’t directly linked to Accutane treatment, moreso a potential side effect of a side effect. Nonetheless, it may be a contributing factor if you gain weight during your treatment.

Increased Levels of Glucose

One reason that you might find yourself gaining weight on Accutane is due to the treatment’s potential for elevating your glucose levels. Having high glucose levels is known to increase the appetite, so if you combine a larger appetite with a decrease in physical activity, you can expect to experience mild to moderate weight gain during treatment. 

Does Accutane Change Your Appetite? 

While increased glucose levels can lead to an increase in appetite, Accutane shouldn’t make you lose your appetite. If you notice that you’re feeling fuller easily, missing lots of meals or simply experiencing minimal hunger levels, you should speak to your doctor or dermatologist. While the side effects of Accutane can cause an increase in appetite, a prolonged lack of appetite shouldn’t be ignored. 

Does Accutane Alter Your Hormone Levels?

While Accutane isn’t necessarily designed to alter your hormone levels, some studies have shown that taking Isotretinoin (the medical name for Accutane) can suppress your body’s levels of serum total testosterone, prolactin, and DHT. 

Additionally, Accutane suppresses your body’s inflammatory response. One unintended side effect of this is that it makes your body more susceptible to fungal and bacterial infections. If you have any type of skin wound while taking Accutane you should immediately consult your dermatologist.

While stable hormone levels can play an important role in clearing acne-prone skin, the main purpose of Accutane is to shrink your oil glands, not disrupt your hormone levels.  

Because of this I highly recommend trying a natural alternative before going straight to Accutane. Although Accutane can be highly effective in reducing acne breakouts, the potential side effects should make the medication a “last resort” for most people.

So, Does Acne Cause Weight Gain?

While some of Accutane’s side effects can cause weight gain or weight fluctuations, these changes should be temporary and can be avoided with a good diet and light, non-strenuous physical activity. As I wrote in my eBook, Unmasking Acne, having a clean, natural diet is one of the best ways to tackle acne symptoms and enjoy blemish-free skin.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if my weight gain is hormonal?

If weight gain is hormonal, it is typically accompanied by other side effects such as heavy period, mood swings, low libido, night sweating, and thyroid issues. If you believe your hormones are out of balance, you should seek medical advice immediately.

Does acne improve with weight loss?

Weight and acne are indirectly related. If you have a diet high in sugar or inflammatory-causing foods, it could be causing both bloating and acne. By removing inflammatory foods from your diet, your acne should improve, and you could also lose weight due to eating a healthier diet.

Need more help? Ask our team!

I’ve helped over 2,500 people clear their acne naturally. If you cannot easily find an answer to your question on the website, please reach out to me by email ([email protected]) or send me a message on Instagram or Twitter. I will reply within 24 hours.

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sam wood is GoodGlow's Chief Editor
Analyzed by Sam Wood

Hi I’m Sam Wood. I’m the chief editor, lead acne expert, and health coach behind GoodGlow. I’m also an author of one of the top selling acne books on Amazon, a husband, father of two, and a pretty good cook! I’m so glad you found GoodGlow and hope the information I have spent the last 10 years cultivating will help you clear your skin and improve your overall health. I began experiencing acne breakotus as a sophomore in high school, but unlike most of my friends, my acne actually got worse as I got into my 20s. I exercised regularly, ate healthy (or so I thought) and spent hundreds of dollars a month on high end skincare products and supplements to help clear my skin. Despite these measures my acne breakouts and scarring only got worse as the years wore on. This greatly wore on my self confidence and mental health. Simple things like taking pictures or going out with a large group made me feel self conscious. So I avoided these situations whenever I could help it. As a last ditch effort I decided to try an extremely restrictive diet recommended by a close friend with an autoimmune disease. After following this diet for about two months my skin started to clear for the first time in over 8 years. The good news is that this restrictive diet is not actually necessary for 99% of people to permanently clear their skin, and over the course of a few months I was able to add back about 90% of my “normal diet”. After clearing my skin I spent the next 4 years self experimenting on myself with different diets, supplements, skincare products to try and find a pattern for what was triggering my acne breakouts. I even tried different meditation, ice baths, and accupuncture to try and isolate the root cause of the breakouts. In the end I realized that an extremely restrictive diet was not necessary for clear skin. The most important thing to do is to avoid inflammatory foods in your diet. Some common examples of this are fried foods, alcohol, sugar, and dairy. Most impoirtantly I stopped reading trendy websites for skincare advice and began reading medical journals authored by dermatologists and nutritionists. Although the information in the articles was great the information was not easily understandable to most readers (including me). I spent hours dissecting individual posts and looking up terms I did not understand. Over the next 6 months I gradually began to understand these journals and started self experiemting some of the research on myself. After experiencing quite a bit of success personally, I started sharing my research on forums and with close friends struggling with acne. When I shared the research it was in easy to understand, plain English. Everyone I talked to loved what I had to say and kept asking more and more questions. So I decided to start a blog so I could just send someone a link when they asked a question instead of rewriting something I had sent 100 times before 😅 While the same directional principles apply to everyone, acne is very personal and should be treated on an individual basis. That’s ultimately why I created GoodGlow. To help everyone reverse engineer the root cause of their acne and clear their skin permanently. To date I’ve helped over 2,500 people clear their skin using a natural, holistic approach. If you are unable to find an answer to your question in any of the articles my team has written please reach out and I will do my best to guide you to the proper information and resources so you can make a thoughtful, informed decision. Read more of Sam's articles.


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