The Right Way To Treat Cystic Acne

I'll do anything to clear up my cystic acne. I've Supermarket Sweep-ed the florescent lit isles of Duane Reade for extra strength OXY-10, transferred rent money from my savings account for an emergency cortisone shot and gotten excruciating facials that involve metal lancets, extractions and estheticians who shame me for picking at my blemishes. Most recently, I sought out Lucky’s executive beauty director, Jean Godfrey June, who recommended I speak to top New York dermatologist Dr. Amy Wechsler and New York/Miami dermatologist Dr. Fredric Brant.

A cure-all doesn’t exist. While both doctors provided sound advice that’s worked for many patients, their two treatment philosophies differ on several points. For instance, although Wechsler doesn’t believe topical agents can help cystic acne, Brant does. So there’s no single, absolute prescription for clear skin; rather, I got many of them:

Don't be afraid of Accutane.

Depending on her diagnosis, Dr. Wechsler prescribes oral medication; she's a big fan of Accutane for very severe cases. When I mentioned some bad press on the drug, she was quick to defend it: "I think [Accutane] has been vilified by the media, but it's only a problem taken if you’re pregnant—it causes birth defects. So long as you're off it for one full menstrual period before conceiving, it's fine." Later that same day, on a call with Dr. Brant, he agreed. "Accutane is a great drug," he told me in between bites of his lunch. (Famous dermatologists—they're just like us!)

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