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.

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