There’s no recipe for you today. I just couldn’t bear the thought of the tasty Chicken Saltimbocca that’s on deck being forever linked to my troubled skin.

Instead, I bring you a personal reflection about acne and my first encounter with a dermatologist. I almost wrote about the upcoming appointment weeks ago. For some reason, scheduling that appointment felt like failure. I couldn’t figure out why. Perhaps as a woman I’ve been trained by countless advertisements that as soon as I find the perfect facial care regimen my life will be filled with rainbows and unicorns, and, better yet, I’ll be able to splash water gleefully on to my face each time I wash it. Admitting I needed help with the seemingly intuitive gesture of washing my face, just reeked of failure… but so does the bevy of products I’ve left in my wake.


This isn’t even all of them. Some were more in the realm of sample sizes and were chucked months ago. I’ve bounced from Dermalogica (Winner for the most expensive face care I’ve every purchased) to Aveeno to Clinique (a standby from years past) to the Oil Cleansing Method (which yielded some success initially, but eventually faded) to smearing my face with raw honey. The raw honey felt like rock bottom because I couldn’t even explain to Hubster how this would supposedly help things. “This one girl with a blog said so” wasn’t convincing, nor should it be. So when he gently mentioned that maybe it was time to seek professional help, I was ready to listen.

Thanks to the wonders of social media, I quickly had a list of possible docs and chose the winner based the few online reviews of medical professionals online. Today was the day. I carefully cataloged all of my previous attempts at clear skin as I headed to the office. I pictured the doctor being interested in what I had tried, maybe even commending me for my solo efforts, and then steering my toward her favorite over-the-counter method or maybe suggesting I try a light prescription product.

Here’s how the approximately 10 minute visit actually* went.
Male student doctor: Are you on birth control?
Me: Not any more.
Male student doctor: Did it seem to help?
Me: Yes, I think so. Though I still had breakouts.
Male student doctor: You should probably get back on birth control.

He leaves and I wait.

Male student doctor, secondary male person in lab coat and physician enter room.
Physician (without really looking at anything): You should probably get back on birth control, which I can’t prescribe so you’ll need to see an Ob/Gyn. In the meantime, I can prescribe antibiotics and a few topicals that will dry you out. You should come see me in 3 months.
Secondary male person takes notes and they all leave.

*I may have paraphrased a little.

I was stunned and disappointed. Clearly my expectations were off. Maybe I should have stopped the doctor and laid out my laundry list of attempts to stay out of her office. Maybe I should have pointed out that it’s ridiculous that the clear solution here is hormones. But I didn’t. I left and cried tears of frustration on the way home for wasting $50 on the office visit.

There has to be some sort of middle ground here between smearing raw honey on my face and altering my body’s chemistry to take advantage of a side effect of clear skin, right? The choice can’t simply be “ugly face” or “pumped full of hormones”

TMI? Yeah, I know. Back to food tomorrow, I promise.


The Meaning of Me - November 14, 2012 - 12:22 am

Nothing more frustrating than a doctor visit that either does not help or only serves to point out the painfully obvious. I wish I could give you an answer. I do not have one. Maybe I can dig up a Rotten Cat story for you, though?

ModernMealsForTwo - November 14, 2012 - 3:52 pm

Rotten Cat stories make everything better :)

casacaudill - November 14, 2012 - 10:01 pm

Do you have a LUSH store near you? If so, I wholeheartedly recommend their Herbalism product. It has done wonders for both my husband and me. I still get some breakouts because I can’t seem to avoid touching my face, but except for one lone pimple that I get four or five times a year, my skin looks terrific.

We used to use Proactiv which was great for my husband but made my face feel like it was melting. It did get rid of my acne though, but I couldn’t continue on with the hours-long burning sensation.

Renee - November 15, 2012 - 12:17 am

That’s fucking ridiculous! I’d hit up another doctor. A friend of mine has been having a similar issue after going off the BC and she spoke with her regular doc (whom she loves). Her doc prescribed a topical also. She’s also looking at other face wash options etc.
On a related note: Sephora accepts returns. Like on anything. Just putting that out there.
Good Luck!

ModernMealsForTwo - November 15, 2012 - 4:06 pm

I’m not sure if we have LUSH store, but thanks for the advice. I’ll check into it.

I tried Proactiv years ago. It worked ok, but I agree that it felt harsh.

ModernMealsForTwo - November 15, 2012 - 4:08 pm

Your comment made me laugh out loud. Thanks, friend.
At the moment I’m stuck between trying another doctor and maybe giving something more natural another go. Obviously a physician is always going to prescribe something and from what I’ve heard thanks to this post and subsequently read, the only “medical” solution is hormones of some sort. I’m trying to decide if having clear skin is worth altering my hormones. I think I’m still searching for the in between.
Good to know on Sephora!!

Tragic Sandwich - November 29, 2012 - 12:34 pm

So I know this post is a little old, and I know nothing about your skin or what has worked for you in the past. But here are my thoughts:

1) The OTC product that’s worked the best for me is Origins’ Spot Remover (salicylic acid).

2) When I last saw a dermatologist for my acne–years go, actually–he put me on endless tetracycline and had me come in once a month so he could spray liquid nitrogen (or something) on my face. Not one of these visits lasted more than four minutes. (I was much happier with the guy I went to for skin tag removal, back when I had insurance that let me decide when I wanted to see a specialist–that guy spent more time and had a funny story about meeting Truman Capote.)

3) The acne dermatologist also put me on Retin-A, and unlike the military docs I’d seen before (I was a dependent), actually listened when I said that I could guarantee that I would stop using it in three days because of how much it made my face hurt, and said, “Oh, well, I can prescribe a lighter formulation.”

4) But I’m pretty sure the Spot Remover works better.

Good luck.

ModernMealsForTwo - November 29, 2012 - 1:39 pm

Thanks for the thoughts. I’m going to try a derm again, but I’ll clearly look for a different one. In the meantime, I went back on birth control (which probably warrants another post… if anyone cares that much) because my brother’s wedding is looming and I just didn’t have any more time to mess around. I’m doing a lot of research and realize that the middle road may involve birth control (or some other hormone modifier) along with a regemin of over-the-counter facial products that are made from natural ingredients. I’ll check out Origins.

Chicken saltimbocca » Modern Meals for Two - November 14, 2012 - 4:24 pm

[…] Guy or South Park so nothing (literally) is off limits. It will be a nice distraction from the derma dissapointment. (Oh, first world problems.) (Is that phrase dead? I promise not to use it […]

[…] I wanted to say thanks for all of the messages and comments you’ve sent my way following the ill-fated derm appointment. I’m still not sure what I’m going to do (find a new doc or make another attempt at a […]

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