A Systematic Review on Oral Isotretinoin Therapy and Clinically Observable Wound Healing in Acne Patients

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The association between isotretinoin and atypical wound healing remains controversial. It is common practice to delay elective procedures for 6 to 24 months after oral isotretinoin therapy. The studies supporting common practices (SCP) recommend extending this period to include the 6 to 24 months preceding treatment. The opposing studies (challenging common practices; CCP) state that the rate of scarring in isotretinoin patients is low and that delaying elective procedures is unnecessary. These practices impact a large number of dermatology patients undergoing acne treatment. This systematic review compiled articles obtained from online databases and examined data from both SCP and CCP studies. The inconsistencies in the reported data and the methodological flaws in the literature preclude any firm conclusions that can resolve the controversy. As such, this review demonstrates that there is insufficient evidence to either corroborate or refute delaying elective procedures in isotretinoin acne patients. Although the recent literature trends toward removing the procedural delay, we advocate for clinicians to consider the research presented in this review in the context of their own clinical experience and each individual patient’s situation. The possible negative procedural outcomes must be weighed against the severity of the patient’s acne scarring and the psychosocial impact of this scarring on the patient.

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