The dissemination of information on social networks about the supposed potential of thin the nose of a drug to acne made the Brazilian Society of Dermatology issue a warning about the risks of serious side effects from inappropriate use of the drug, which can cause liver damage, increased cholesterol and malformations in the fetus, in the case of pregnant patients.
The entity noted an increase in publications on the benefits of drugs with isotretinoin, better known by the trade name roaccutane, including encouraging challenges for substance use. “It is a drug with many side effects, such as changes in the liver and increased cholesterol. In the case of pregnant women, it can cause malformations in the fetus. We know that it causes atrophy in the sebaceous gland, but there is no scientific basis for it the drug thins the nose”, explains Beni Moreinas Grinblat, second secretary of the Brazilian Society of Dermatology (SBD).
Grinblat says that in addition to acne cases that need treatment, there is a condition called rhinophyma that may receive the indication of the drug, but the condition mainly affects the elderly.
According to the organization, the concern with women of childbearing age is due to the fact that the risk of a baby being born with a congenital malformation reaches 30% if the use is made by pregnant women. In a statement released this Wednesday, the SBD reported that, together, the hashtags that call for the challenge using the medication – #roacutancheck and #roacutanchallenge – reach 29 million views.
In just the past seven days, Google searches for “Roaccutane thins its nose” increased by 900%. Even with the growth, Grinblat ponders that the interest is more in social networks than in offices. “People are challenging each other, but I don’t know how much, in practice, is happening. In Brazil, it is not an easy medicine to buy. In addition to the prescription, there is a consent form that you have to sign at the pharmacy. Some patients, who already take it, they ask if it’s true. In the office, they are suspicious.” Patients undergoing treatment are monitored through tests to see if they are having changes in liver and cholesterol.
Having dry eyes, mouth and nose was not what bothered the 20-year-old medical student Isadora Andreotti, while taking Roaccutane for acne, which was indicated for the medication. In her first experience with the drug, she had to stop treatment after changes in her liver. There was also an increase in triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
“I was treated with Roaccutane three times, with two different doctors,” he says. “I was pleased with the result, but I still have some scars and acne blemishes.”
The reactions reported by Isadora are listed in the drug’s package insert as “very common” – when they occur in 10% or more of patients. On the same list are disorders of the gallbladder, conjunctivitis and body aches. Disorders of the lymphatic, nervous and respiratory systems are also possible effects, although less recurrent. The document also mentions rare cases of depression, weight loss, changes in white cell count, insomnia, among others.
The pimples, which is why Isadora was prescribed isotretinoin, are gone. Damage to the liver and cholesterol levels, described as reversible in the package insert, also disappeared. The nose, which was never the focus of the remedy, remains the same. “I got the result I wanted, but anyone who takes it to thin their nose can risk their own health for nothing.”
Isotretinoin can also be used in people who have had rhinoplasty, according to Paolo Rubez, a member of the Brazilian Society of Plastic Surgery and a specialist in Aesthetic and Reconstructive Rhinoplasty by Case Western University.
“It can be indicated for the postoperative period when we perform surgery on the nose. There are scientific studies that show benefits of using low doses for the result of the procedure. Even these patients will be followed up with a surgeon and dermatologist. The drug alone does not thin the nose.”
Rubez recommends that people seek information about treatments from reliable sources and always consult specialists in the field. “You have to be careful with procedures, especially with teenagers. At this age, we don’t even operate. We hope to reach 16.”
In note, the laboratory Roche Pharma Brazil, responsible for the production of the drug in the country, informed that, as isotretinoin acts on the sebaceous glands, it can deflate the inflammation in specific cases of oily skin above normal, causing the impression of thinning in the nose. Also according to Roche, Roaccutane is for the treatment of severe forms of acne and cannot be used without a prescription.