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.
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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:
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.
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.
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
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.
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.