Botox vs Dysport. Your Questions Answered!

For a long time, 'Botox' has been the only contender in the ring in the U.S. when it comes to getting rid of deep facial lines. But Botox just got some competition. 'Dysport', which was approved for sale and use in the U.S. by the FDA just last year, is the new botulinum toxin on the block. Since its approval, it has been adopted by many cosmetic surgeons—many of whom are finding that some of their patients not only like Dysport, but prefer it over Botox for their wrinkle-reducing needs.

The Dysport vs. Botox debate is a hot topic in the cosmetic world these days—from how effective each product is in comparison to the other to how much they cost—and with all these questions floating around, it can be hard to keep the facts straight. What do you need to know about Dysport? Read on to find out:

Are they actually different drugs?

Yes they are different, but only slightly. Both Botox and Dysport are made from the same active ingredient: Clostridium botulinum toxin type A. Botox is Onabotulinum toxin A and Dysport is Abobotulinum toxin A. The toxin affects the nervous system, relaxing the muscles in the area where it’s injected and preventing them from creating the creases and wrinkles they would otherwise form.

There are some minor structural differences between Dysport and Botox, but in the end, they are 'more or less the same drug'. In terms of actual structure, there is one main distinguishing factor between them: Dysport molecules are smaller than Botox molecules. This means that Dysport has a different diffusion rate and has a tendency to spread farther from the site where it was injected than Botox does—and also that the way their units are measured is different. Which brings us to our next question . . .

Are they dosed the same?

'Botox and Dysport'are both measured in units—but their units are different. One Botox unit does not equal one Dysport unit. Dysport is actually diluted more, to the point that the ratio of its units to Botox units works out to about 2.5:1 (which means a doctor uses two and a half times more units of Dysport than Botox in order to achieve comparable results).  Some doctors prefer to convert at 3:1, a higher dose, saying that the results are more satisfactory.

Which one works faster?

Many surgeons who use Dysport will tell you that Dysport has a quicker onset than Botox—where it generally takes around five to seven days for the effects of Botox to kick in, it can take as little as one to two days for Dysport’s effects to become apparent.  Not everyone agrees on this matter—some doctors say that it takes about the same amount of time for the full effects of Dysport to become noticeable as it does for Botox’s—but in general, the majority seems to be of the opinion that Dysport does work faster.

Which one lasts longer?

The jury is still out on whether Dysport last longer, Botox does, or if they draw even in this category. Clinical studies have been performed, but the results have been mixed. Some doctors award the longevity prize to Dysport, based on feedback from patients. Within that bracket, some say that converting Dysport at the higher ratio—3:1—can make the difference in 'longer-lasting results'. For now, though, these are somewhat speculative statements, and there’s no concrete evidence to point conclusively in one direction on this issue.

Which one costs more?

Cost is often an important factor in cosmetic procedure matters, and Dysport and Botox are no exception. In fact, since the two drugs are so similar, for some patients, cost can be the most important factor in deciding between them.

Dysport pricing can vary from practice to practice. Per unit, it’s far cheaper than Botox—but, as we talked about earlier, for every one unit of Botox, two and a half (or more) units of Dysport are necessary. Because this variance in dosage makes the final price tags on each drug a lot closer to each other, some practices have decided to simply level the playing field and price Dysport and Botox exactly the same. At a 2.5:1 conversion rate, however, and with the rebates that the Dysport manufacturers are offering doctors as an incentive to use their product, Dysport can be cheaper than Botox—as much as 25% cheaper to be precise, 'depending on the plastic surgeon you go to'. As time goes on and other Botox competitors continue to enter the market, prices will probably begin to drop even further.