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What you Need to Know about Accutane and Retinoids Before having Surgery!

November 13, 2017

Dr Leong and the staff at Sistine Plastic Surgery quite often get questions about how patients in Pittsburgh should change their skin care regimen before cosmetic surgery. Here’s something that patients ought to know about a specific medication. Isotretinoin, better known as “Accutane,” is generally used to treat severe cystic or nodular acne that has not responded to other treatments. This powerful drug is widely known across the United States and is considered one of the strongest acne medications. It is classified in the “retinoid” drug category and works by decreasing sebum (facial oil) production.

Many people are aware of the multiple and somewhat intense side effects and warnings of Accutane which include mental/mood changes, minor swelling, stomach problems, and can cause birth defects if taken by women while becoming pregnant. Although many people are familiar with the warnings and risks, most people do not know that you must be off Accutane for at least nine to twelve months before undergoing any type of surgery.

Accutane is great for improving acne but horrible on surgical scars. As you can imagine, this poor scar healing applies to all of our cosmetic surgeries: facelift, rhinoplasty, blepharoplasty and many others. This is because Accutane prevents the ability of the skin to heal appropriately. The mechanism of action of the Accutane significantly affects the scarring capacity and wound healing. This is one of the reasons why it is extremely critical to disclose all current and former medications to your physicians, even though most patient paperwork forms will include this question.

Although Accutane is classified in the retinoid family, Retin-A, Retinol, and Tretinoin medications may be safely discontinued about 2 weeks before surgery and not have an effect on the skin’s healing process. For an additional questions, please contact our Patient Care Coordinator at or 412-621-3223.

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