Botulinum Toxin: Not Just For Wrinkles!

Everybody knows that Dysport and Botox are used to relax wrinkles in the face. What you may not know is that the cosmetic use is just a side effect that was discovered when Botox was being used to treat several different medical conditions. Before we get to that, however, let’s take a look at the history of the botulinum toxin.

History of Botulinum Toxin

In the 1820’s, several German men died after eating sausage and botulism was discovered in the tainted meat. Scientists started studying this newly-found poison and discovered that there were 7 different strains of the toxin. Of the 7, only 4 make humans sick: strains A, B, E, and F. The toxin causes neurological side effects such as droopy eyelids and breathing problems and can actually kill you when ingested via contaminated food. As a matter of fact, the botulinum toxin was actually a short-lived part of Chinese germ warfare.

In the 50’s and 60’s, scientists started working with the toxin and developed it in a crystalized form. It wasn’t long before they discovered that in small doses it could temporarily relax muscles and Dr. Alan B. Scott started experimenting on the effect of the toxin on monkeys with crossed eyes. It wasn’t long before human trials were approved and it was discovered that botulinum type A did indeed temporarily work in people, too. In 1988, Allergen bought the distribution rights to the toxin and in 1989, it received FDA approval for treating eye muscle spasms and crossed eyes.

With FDA approval came more widespread research and it was discovered that the toxin temporarily relieved the symptoms of many different kinds of muscle-related conditions in the face, neck and throat as well as excessive sweating and cerebral palsy. Doctors started noticing an interesting side effect when treating facial conditions – patients were looking more youthful! After these research became widely known, Botox’s popularity skyrocketed and it was officially approved for use as a cosmetic drug in 2002.

Enter Dysport

In 2009, Dysport obtained FDA approval and hit the scene as Botox’s only competitor in the U.S. and the great Botox vs Dysport debate was on! At the time, Botox treatments were averaging between $300-$500 per treatment and Dysport entered the market at only about $300 per treatment. It was hypothesized at the time that Allergen may lower the price of Botox to remain competitive but they opted instead to stand on their reputation and successful history.

Medical Uses

Dysport only lists 2 uses on their official site including:

  • neck pain and distorted head position related to cervical dystonia, a muscle disease that effects the neck
  • frown lines between the eyes in adults under age 65

Though these are the only treatments listed, Dysport is also used for treatment of other facial wrinkles as well as some of the same medical conditions that Botox is used for.

In addition to the cosmetic procedures that Botox is known and loved for, its medical guide also states that it’s used for the treatment of:

  • muscular symtoms of cervical dystonia in people over 16
  • chronic migraines in adults
  • crossed eyes and eyelid spasms in people over 12
  • upper limb spacity (elbows, finger muscles and wrists) in adults
  • chronic underarm sweating in adults

As you can see, the relaxation of wrinkles truly is just a happy side-effect and both Dysport and Botox have much more serious medical uses. As with the cosmetic procedures, none of the medical uses are permanent but at least they provide temporary relief of painful or embarrassing medical conditions. Add the fact that it makes you look young to the mix and it’s no leap of faith to say that both products are here to stay! If you’re considering using Dysport, check out the information that we found about rebates and coupons.

If you’ve used Botox or Dysport for medical conditions other than wrinkle relief, we’d love to hear from you! Please feel free to tell us about your experience in the comments section below.

Dysport vs Botox: Which is More Effective?

One Solution May Work Faster & Last Longer

If you’re trying to decide between Botox or Dysport, you probably already know that some people prefer one over the other. The important question, however, is this: Which one of them will work the best for you?

It’s a great question and one that bears asking. In order to answer it fully, though, we need to take a look at the differences in the products, and the pros and cons of each. Even though both Dysport and Botox have the same active ingredient (botulinum toxin type A), they have a couple key differences. Depending upon the procedure that you want, one may work better for you than the other.


This is the point where the rubber meets the road when discussing the differences between Botox and Dysport. It takes between 3-7 days to begin to see the results of Botox whereas Dysport only takes 1-3 days. If you want to be ready for that party that’s coming up in a day or two, you might be better off going with Dysport.

There are some random, informal observations that have been made by people across different forums when comparing these two products. Some people report that Dysport hurts a little more than Botox during the injections. Also, there are some people who report that Dysport worked for them when Botox didn’t but there aren’t really any significant medical studies to back this up.


Dysport has a thinner consistency than Botox and is becoming the popular product to use when treating broad, thinly-muscled areas such as those around your forehead because it spreads easier and further and may be less prone to leave a lumpy look. Dysport’s becoming popular for treatment of crow’s feet for the same reason.

Since Botox is thicker, it’s still preferred by many doctors for use in concentrated thicker-muscled areas such as around your mouth or between your eyes. ¬†Another advantage of Dysport’s consistency is that you may require fewer injections because it does spread more easily.


This seems to be the most debatable area in the great Dysport vs Botox debate. The two products aren’t bioequivalent which means that 100 cc of Botox does not contain the same amount of the active ingredient as 100cc of Dysport.

As a matter of fact, you’ll need to use about 2.5 times the amount of Dysport to get the same results. At this conversion, most patients are reporting that the products work for about the same amount of time, but many doctors adjust the ratio to 3:1.

Many people seem to believe that Dysport lasts a bit longer than Botox at this dose. With either product, results typically last 3-6 months and some doctors are reporting that people who don’t get at least 3 months out of Botox may respond better to Dysport.

If you’re trying to decide between Dysport and Botox, there are several factors that you may want to consider.

  • How have you responded to Botox in the past?
  • What areas do you want treated?
  • How quickly do you want to see results?
  • Are you willing to get a few more injections? You’ll need to if you choose Dysport.
  • Is cost a factor? Dysport is about 10-20% cheaper than Botox, at least for now.

When it comes right down to it, the decision about which product to use is a personal one that should be discussed between you and your doctor. Everybody has different needs and depending upon what yours are, one product may be better for you than the other. As with any medical procedure, do your research, talk to your doctor, and make an informed decision.

Did you know that Dysport and Botox aren’t just used for wrinkles? Though that’s what they’re both famous for, they also help alleviate the symptoms of several severe medical conditions.

If you’ve tried both (or either) of these products, we’d love to hear about your results. Please lend us your insight in the comment section below.

Next → Dysport vs Botox: Side Effects

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Dysport vs Botox: Side Effects

Know Your Risks Before You Choose

As with any medication, both Dysport and Botox have potential side effects. Because the two drugs are both made from botulinum toxin type A, many of the side effects are the same. According to each product’s website, there are several rare but severe side effects that may occur as well as many not-so-serious symptoms that occur more frequently.

There are also certain people who shouldn’t use either product at all. Regardless of which product you decide to go with, make sure that you discuss all of your medications, health conditions, and concerns with your doctor prior to beginning treatment.

Dysport Ingredients

Many people with lactose intolerance are concerned about using Dysport but even though the drug contains it, there’s no fear of an allergic reaction because it doesn’t enter your GI tract. Since it may contain cow’s milk protein, people who avoid animal products of any kind may be adverse to using it. In addition to the botulinum toxin and lactose, the only other ingredient is human albumin, a protein component of human blood.

Botox Ingredients

As with Dysport, Botox only contains three ingredients. Two of them are the same as Dysport: botulinum toxin A and human albumin. The third ingredient is sodium chloride, which is simply table salt. Botox also adds an addendum on their product page about the human albumin. It states that the odds of catching any serious viral disease from the human serum albumin is so small that it’s never actually happened.

As you can see, the risks of experiencing side effects and allergic reactions from either Botox or Dysport are all related directly to the botulinum toxin.

Spread of Botulinum Toxin

When you undergo procedures using the botulinum toxin, you’re literally injecting the toxin that causes botulism into your body. There’s a chance that the toxin can spread to other areas of your body and cause you to experience the same symptoms that you would if you actually had botulism. These include:

  • difficulty breathing
  • difficulty swallowing
  • vision problems including blurred vision, double vision or drooping eyelids
  • hoarseness or loss of your voice
  • muscle weakness or general loss of strength
  • inability to control your bladder
  • trouble speaking clearly

There hasn’t been a serious confirmed case of the the toxin spreading when used correctly for eliminating wrinkles but the risk is there.

Shared side effects

The most common side effects of both products include:

  • headaches
  • discomfort or pain at the injection site
  • dry mouth
  • neck or muscle pain
  • tiredness
  • eye problems including decreased sight, double vision, blurred vision, difficulty focusing, and drooping or swelling of the eyelids

Life-Threatening Side Effects

If you use Dysport or Botox, there’s a chance that you may have difficulty breathing, swallowing or speaking. Though these reactions are rare, you need to know that they exist. If you experience any of these problems, you need to seek medical attention immediately.

Allergic Reactions

Allergic reactions to Botox and Dysport include:

  • itching, rash or red welts at the injection site
  • wheezing
  • asthma symptoms
  • feeling dizzy or faint

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately.

To lessen your chances of experiencing side effects or having an allergic reaction, you should tell your doctor about all of the medications that you have recently taken, even if they’re just vitamins or over-the-counter products. Also, if you’ve received any type of botulinum toxin injections in the past 6 months, or have ever had a reaction to similar products, you should speak up.

As we discussed earlier, there are certain people who shouldn’t consider Botox or Dysport. They include people who:

  • have urinary incontinence or a UTI
  • have had an allergic reaction to Botox, Dysport or any other botulinum toxin product
  • have a skin rash or infection at the injection site
  • are allergic to any of the ingredients in the product

Since it’s not known whether or not Botox or Dysport is harmful to unborn babies or passes into breastmilk, you should consider waiting until there’s no risk to your baby before you get your injections.

Most people don’t have any problems at all tolerating either Botox or Dysport but side effects and allergic reactions are possible because you’re injecting a foreign substance into your body.

Since the risks are practically identical for both products, you can’t really use them as a deciding factor when trying to pick one or the other. For more information that may help you make a decision, read our next article Cost, Coupons & Rebates.

If you’ve experienced any of these side effects, or have used either product successfully with no side effects, we’d like to hear from you! Please feel free to let our other readers know about your experience in the comments section below.

Next → Dysport vs Botox: Cost, Coupons & Rebates

Previous: Dysport vs Botox: Which is More Effective?