Botox vs. Dysport: Your Guide to Two Popular Wrinkle Treatments

Are you looking for a way to turn back the clock on aging skin, but confused about which neuromodulator to go for? You’re not alone. In the world of non-surgical cosmetic treatments, Botox and Dysport injections are two options that look similar on the surface, but differ slightly in a few key ways. Let’s dive deep into these popular options to help you make an informed choice.

Understanding Neurotoxins: The Basics

Neurotoxins are specialized proteins designed to temporarily block nerve signals in targeted areas. By inhibiting the neurotransmitters that trigger muscle contractions, these substances effectively relax the muscle, leading to smoother, less wrinkled skin. 

All of the neurotoxins used for cosmetic and medical purposes have botulinum toxin type A as their active ingredient. However, the exact makeup of the product varies depending on the manufacturer’s purification process and what stabilizer, if any, is used.

Botulinum toxin injections are commonly used to treat facial wrinkles caused by repeated expressions. These include glabella lines, crow’s feet, and forehead lines. They’re also used in medical settings to treat conditions characterized by muscle spasms or tenseness. Though powerful, the effects of neurotoxins are temporary and generally last for a few months.

All about Botox Cosmetic

Botox is the brand name for onabotulinumtoxinA and is produced by Allergan. Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2002 for cosmetic use, it quickly became synonymous with anti-aging treatments. 

Botox has been extensively researched and is widely considered one of the most reliable and effective treatments for wrinkles and fine lines. Botox has a long history of use, not just in the cosmetic field, but also for various medical conditions like migraines and excessive sweating. Its most common cosmetic uses are:

  • Crow’s feet
  • Forehead lines
  • Glabellar lines (vertical lines between the eyebrows)
  • Laugh lines

The scoop on Dysport

Dysport, on the other hand, is the brand name for another type of botulinum toxin, AbobotulinumtoxinA, and is manufactured by Galderma. It was approved by the FDA for aesthetic use in 2009, making it relatively newer to the U.S. market compared to Botox. However, Dysport has been used in Europe for many years prior. 

Dysport is gaining traction for its quick onset of action and its ability to spread a bit more, making it a popular choice for larger treatment areas like the forehead.

Dysport vs. Botox: A Side-by-Side Comparison

When it comes to anti-aging solutions, both Dysport and Botox have their own unique offerings. Here’s how these cosmetic injectables compare across various parameters:

FDA-approved uses

Botox was initially approved by the FDA for cosmetic use in 2002 and has since been greenlighted for treating a variety of conditions such as migraines, overactive bladder, and excessive sweating.

Dysport received FDA approval in 2009 specifically for the treatment of frown lines between the eyebrows, known as glabellar lines.

Off-label uses

While not officially approved, both Dysport and Botox injections are often performed to achieve other aesthetic goals. This includes treating bunny lines on the nose, jawline slimming, and the lip flip. 

Longevity of results

Both treatments offer temporary results that generally last for a few months. Botox results can last between 3 to 6 months, while Dysport might offer a slightly shorter duration of around 3 to 4 months. The longevity of the results can vary depending on individual factors like metabolism, and the area of the face treated.

Effectiveness over time

Both Botox and Dysport treatments are effective at reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. However, some users have noted that the effects of Dysport appear more quickly, sometimes within 24–48 hours, as compared to Botox, which generally takes 3–5 days to show results. It should be noted that both treatments require regular maintenance sessions for sustained results.

Safety and side effects

Both Botox and Dysport have been demonstrated to be a safe and effective treatment options. However, as with any medical procedure, both injectables come with their own set of potential side effects. 

Common issues can include swelling, bruising, or pain at the injection site. If the injections are incorrectly placed, or too much product is used, it’s possible to experience droopy eyelids and facial muscle weakness; these symptoms will resolve when the effects of Botox or Dysport wear off. More serious but rare side effects may include allergic reactions or difficulty swallowing. 

To reduce the likelihood of side effects caused by poor technique, it’s crucial to visit a qualified healthcare provider. A board-certified dermatologist, plastic surgeon or other licensed skin care expert will be able to discuss potential risks and perform the injections safely.


Both Botox and Dysport come with a set of contraindications that are important to consider before undergoing treatment. Patients who are pregnant, nursing, or have a known allergy to any ingredients in either Botox or Dysport are advised not to receive these injections. Similarly, those with certain neuromuscular disorders like myasthenia gravis or Lambert-Eaton syndrome should avoid both treatments.

That said, Botox has a longer list of approved medical uses, so its contraindications may extend to conditions specifically related to those uses, such as certain eye disorders when treating eyelid spasms, for instance. Dysport’s contraindications are generally in line with its more limited FDA-approved uses and primarily focus on cosmetic applications.

It’s crucial to discuss your complete medical history and any medications you’re taking during the consultation phase, irrespective of whether you’re considering Botox or Dysport. This will help your healthcare provider determine the most appropriate treatment plan for you and minimize potential risks.

Cost considerations

When it comes to cost, both Botox and Dysport are generally priced per unit, and the total cost of the treatment depends on the number of units used. A unit of Dysport is often less expensive than a unit of Botox, but it’s essential to note that more units of Dysport may be required to achieve the same results as Botox due to its different formulation and concentration. Therefore, the overall cost of treatment can end up being similar for both products.

Pricing can also vary based on geographic location, the expertise of the medical professional administering the treatment, and any special promotions or packages available. Consult with your healthcare provider for an accurate quote and to discuss payment options. 

Keep in mind that most insurance plans do not cover cosmetic procedures, so be prepared to pay for the full cost unless you’re getting a medical Dysport or Botox treatment.

What’s It Like to Get Botox or Dysport Injections?

Understanding the process can alleviate any apprehensions you may have about getting Botox or Dysport injections. From consultation to results, here’s what you can expect and how the two treatments differ at each step.

The consultation

Regardless of whether you’re considering Botox or Dysport, the initial consultation involves a thorough discussion with a qualified healthcare provider. You’ll talk about your aesthetic goals, medical history, and any concerns you might have. You will also likely have your facial expressions analyzed to determine the most effective treatment plan. There are rarely differences in the consultation process between the two treatments.

The procedure

The actual injection process for both Botox and Dysport is quite similar and usually takes around 10 to 20 minutes. A fine needle is used to inject the neurotoxin into specific muscles. While both treatments are relatively painless, some clinics may offer a topical anesthetic to make you more comfortable. 


The recovery phase for both Botox and Dysport is minimal, often termed as “lunchtime procedures” because you can typically return to your regular activities immediately. You may experience minor bruising, swelling, or redness at the injection site with either treatment. Specific aftercare instructions like avoiding strenuous activity and not rubbing the treated area are standard for both. 


Results may begin to appear within 24–48 hours with Dysport and within 3–5 days with Botox. At that point, you may be asked to come back for a follow-up appointment to assess your results and perform touch-ups if necessary.

Alternatives to Botox and Dysport

While Botox and Dysport are heavy hitters in the world of non-surgical cosmetic treatments, they aren’t the only options available. Let’s explore some alternatives and how they differ.

Other FDA-approved neurotoxins

Other neurotoxins you might consider are Xeomin and Jeuveau. Xeomin contains incobotulinumtoxinA and is unique in that it doesn’t contain any additives, which may minimize the risk of developing resistance to the treatment. 

Jeuveau, containing prabotulinumtoxinA, is the newest FDA-approved neurotoxin for aesthetic use and is used to treat moderate to severe frown lines.

Dermal fillers: a different approach

Dermal fillers like Juvederm, Restylane and Sculptra are another class of cosmetic injectables offering a more youthful appearance. Unlike neurotoxins, which relax the muscles to reduce wrinkles, dermal fillers add volume to the skin. They are often used to treat deeper lines, restore volume loss, and even augment facial features like lips and cheeks.

It’s important to note that while dermal fillers yield impressive results, they serve a different purpose than neurotoxins and are often used in conjunction with them for a more comprehensive facial rejuvenation.

The Bottom Line

Navigating the sea of non-surgical cosmetic treatments can be overwhelming, especially when options like Botox and Dysport seem almost interchangeable at first glance. However, as we’ve explored, these two popular wrinkle relaxers come with their own set of characteristics, from FDA-approved uses and off-label applications to longevity and cost. 

The differences may be subtle, but they could play a significant role in your decision-making process. Armed with this knowledge, you can make a more informed choice tailored to your unique needs.

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