Roaccutane thins your nose? Specialists warn after supposed viral effect on TikTok

It’s not uncommon to see remedies being advertised on social media as miracle solutions. However, one of these false information has left experts on the alert recently. That’s because the drug roaccutane, used to combat severe acne, went viral in TikTok as a method to “thin the nose”. Concerned, the Brazilian Society of Dermatology (SBD) had to issue a note denying effect.

The subject emerged on the social network, dedicated to the production of short videos, when some users began to post images that showed an alleged thinning of the nose after using the medicine. Reports of this type were given through the hashtags #roacutancheck and #roacutanchallenge, which surpassed the mark of 29 million views.

On Google Trends, a system that analyzes the most frequent searches on the platform, the theme “Roaccutane thins its nose” showed a sudden increase of almost 100% between the 5th and 11th of this month in Brazil. In other words, although still incomplete, data shows that interest in information has grown in the country.

Search for information about the effect of the drug grew almost 100% in recent days.  Data is still incomplete
Search for information about the effect of the drug grew almost 100% in recent days. Data is still incomplete (Photo: Google Trends)

The great repercussion around the subject worried the Brazilian Society of Dermatology (SBD), leading the organ to publish a note last week. In a document, the institution clarifies that the substance isotretinoin, the drug’s active ingredient, does not appear in any study by the scientific community, as well as in clinical studies, as being able to reshape the nose.

The document also highlights that only in case the patient has a condition called rhinophyma (hypertrophy of the sebaceous glands) there may be a visible enlargement of the nose. In this case, isotretinoin can be used to shrink the organ, causing it to return to normal size.

“In general, in cases of acne or other dermatological manifestations, SBD reiterates that there is no reduction or thinning of the nose after using the product, especially in patients who do not have rhinophyma”, highlights organ (see full note at the end of the text).

thinning is an aesthetic illusion

Tiago Sampaio, professor of the Pharmacy course at the Federal University of Ceará (UFC), explains that isotretinoin is a substance analogous to vitamin A, being used mainly to combat severe acne. According to the professor, the principle reduces the production of oil in the skin and has the effect of breaking down the keratin that is present in it, to “favor its healing”.

In other words, the patient’s skin undergoes a kind of reconstruction, and it is precisely during this period that he may find that his features have been remodeled. “The individual has the false impression that the features are thinner, that the lips can be thinner, the nose thinner”, highlights the professor.

According to Guilherme de Medeiros, dermatologist linked to the Brazilian Society of Regional Dermatology Ceará (SBD-CE), this impression is also given due to the substance acting on the sebaceous glands, reducing the oiliness of the skin and removing the ‘comedones’, as they are called the dreaded carnations.

This entire process ends up improving the quality of the skin and leads the patient to notice an aesthetic improvement in the nose, but it’s all just a visual effect. The professional also mentions that there may be cases of people who undergo rhinoplasty, a procedure that thins the nose, being analyzed to use isotretinoin and have a greater aesthetic benefit.

Whether about problems such as acne or discomfort with the size of the nose, the dermatologist also makes an alert for people to look for a professional and assess whether the case really needs a more “drastic” solution. This is because many individuals may end up having a “distorted” view of their own image and resorting to actions that put their health at risk.

“The guidance that is any kind of doubt regarding the nose, if you have any problem regarding oiliness, any doubt, you have to make a medical advice. If you use the drug without guidance, you can have the side effects without to solve the problem at all. The main thing is to look for the specialist to solve the doubt, to know if this is the problem and what care should be taken”, points out the specialist.

Side Effects and Usage Warning

If the fact that the thinning caused by the substance is nothing more than an illusion hasn’t convinced you yet, be aware that the purchase of Roaccutane and its side effects are not as simple as they seem to be in the TikTok videos. This is because the drug has a more complex prescription, being indicated only after a series of tests. In addition, its use must have medical supervision.

According to Guilherme, to find out if the individual can do the treatment against acne using the medicine, it is necessary for him to do blood tests, to be analyzed if he has liver problems, if he takes any other type of medicine, among others. All because the drug has a strong effect on the body, a professional evaluation is extremely necessary before and during use..

>>> Roaccutane: know the side effects of the drug, a strong ally in fighting pimples

Among the adverse effects caused by the drug are the elevation of cholesterol and triglyceride levels and skin dryness — this being the most common. In addition, the patient needs to take a lot of care during use, since his body is being affected.

For example, the individual cannot drink alcohol because this can end up overloading his liver. In case of overload, the organ runs the risk of contracting drug-induced hepatitis, as pointed out by dermatologist Guilherme. If the patient is a woman, she cannot get pregnant while the substance is acting in her body, at the risk of the fetus not forming completely.

Due to all these risks, the individual needs to constantly return to the doctor to find out how he has reacted to the substance. The dermatologist emphasizes that the first return is made right after the prescription, to assess whether the patient has not had a “short-term adverse effect”. Then the pattern is for him to return to the office every three months.

Treatment time is individual and depends on the degree of acne in each patient. To understand the importance of medical monitoring and the seriousness of the indiscriminate use of the drug, Professor Tiago Sampaio reports that some countries even banned the use of the drug.

According to him, using the medication unattended and improperly can lead to death, since he may have liver cancer. Among other effects are the so-called “night blindness” and the risk of developing anxiety and depression.

See full clarification from SBD:

The Brazilian Society of Dermatology (SBD) clarifies that oral isotretinoin (sold
with different trade names in Brazil) has been used for four decades for the systemic treatment of moderate to severe acne vulgaris.

In the scientific community, there are no reports, much less prospective and controlled clinical studies, suggesting the use of oral isotretinoin to thin the nose. The SBD points out that isotretinoin is a retinoid, a synthetic derivative of vitamin A, that produces its main effect on the activity of the sebaceous glands.

In this context, the nose is the region of the body with the largest number of sebaceous glands and the most active, and in people with skin with oil that is much higher than normal, these structures increase in size over time, but not enough to increase in size. visible form the patient’s nose.

However, when there is hypertrophy of the sebaceous glands, this increase is really noticeable. The condition is called rhinophyma and can be treated with the use of oral isotretinoin. In these cases, the use of the substance tends to reduce the size of the glands a little and the nose can thus return to its original size.

That is, the use of the substance tends to reduce the size of these glands and their activity, in exceptional cases (rhinophyma), when they are hypertrophied. In general, in cases of acne or other dermatological manifestations, SBD reiterates that there is no reduction or thinning of the nose after using the product, especially in patients who do not have rhinophyma.

Thus, there is no evidence that oral isotretinoin has this indication, let alone any efficacy for this purpose. In addition, the inappropriate use of the drug without proper prescription and medical supervision involves risks, particularly in women of childbearing age. If they become pregnant using the drug, there is a 30% risk of the baby being born with congenital malformations.

For the use of oral isotretinoin, a medical prescription is mandatory. Dermatologists associated with SBD are properly instructed not to make this type of indication. Care must be taken when using this medication by means other than prescription by a dermatologist.

To receive guidance regarding any invasive aesthetic procedure or systemic therapy, SBD emphasizes the fundamental importance of scheduling an appointment with a
dermatologist doctor.

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