- Dysport and Botox both work the same way, but the Dysport molecule is slightly smaller.
- Botox takes seven to 10 days to see the full effect, but Dysport can take as little as three.
- If you're getting the procedure done for a medical reason, like migraines, it's best to stick to Botox.
For those who seek more youthful-looking skin and fewer wrinkles, injectable neurotoxins like Botox deliver promising results.
But Botox isn't the only neurotoxin on the market — another cosmetic treatment, called Dysport, is another option that offers almost the same results.
Both these neurotoxins work in the same way: by blocking signals to the brain that normally cause muscles to move, Bielfield says. Therefore, the muscles can't contract in the way they naturally would, ultimately leading to fewer wrinkles.
But just because their main mechanism is the same doesn't mean that these two treatments are equivalent. In fact, Dysport offers a few advantages like quicker results— but Botox might be a better choice if you're opting to use the neurotoxin for medical uses.
Here's what you need to know about the similarities and differences between Botox and Dysport, as well as how to decide which one you should choose.
1. They have a different — but similar — chemical structure
- The Dysport molecule is slightly smaller than Botox.
- Dysport has a different protein attached to it.
Theoretically, these differences mean that Dysport may diffuse, or spread, more than Botox. Hibler says some injectors argue that this allows for more natural results, but the spreading effect means that you might sacrifice some precision.
"However, I find the difference to be quite negligible. If you have a trained provider who is experienced in using both of these neuromodulators, they may subtly modify the injection pattern to account for these differences," Hibler says.
2. Dysport requires more units — but it shouldn't affect the cost too much
When you go in for a procedure, your provider will determine how much of the neurotoxin you need based on:
- The size of the area being treated
- The depth of the wrinkles
- The desired effect
The amount of the neurotoxin you need is measured in doses called units. For example, reducing forehead lines may take 10-20 units of Botox, while reducing neck wrinkles may take 50-100 units.
But the dosing for Botox and Dysport are different. In fact, one unit of Botox is equal to two and a half to three units of Dysport, says Hibler. Since most practices charge by unit, this can raise some concerns about pricing.
However, this shouldn't have too much of an effect on the cost. Hibler says that "for clinics that charge per unit, the individual unit price for Dysport is less because more units are required."
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average cost for a session with either product is $466. However, the cost will vary based on the size of the area being treated, your geographical location, and the specific office or provider you're going to.
3. Dysport works more quickly than Botox
Bielfield says you can see results from Dysport as soon as three days after treatment since Dysport is a smaller molecule and may settle into the muscle quicker than Botox.
On the other hand, it can take seven to 10 days for the full effect of Botox to show.
The Dysport's quicker results may be beneficial for situations when you have an event coming up soon and want a change in a few days.
However, Hibler says it's always best to plan in advance and allow time for either option to fully settle and reveal the full effect.
4. Botox has more FDA-approved uses
When it comes to cosmetic use, Botox is FDA-approved for treating:
- Crow's feet
- Forehead lines
- Glabella lines (also known as frown lines)
On the other hand, Dysport is only FDA-approved for treating glabellar lines, particularly ones that are moderate to severe. Anything else is technically off-label — but that doesn't necessarily mean it's bad or dangerous.
Off-label means that the treatments haven't been through the FDA's rigorous trials and studies for that specific use, but these trials aren't always practical, Bielfield says. In fact, lots of medications used in clinical practice are implemented off-label.
5. Botox is better for medical uses
As for medical use, since Botox is approved and studied more for treating medical conditions, providers tend to stick to Botox over Dysport for conditions like chronic migraines or hyperhidrosis.
Hibler says it's likely that Botox has more approved uses since it's been around longer than Dysport, so it's had the funding and time to get FDA approval.
FDA-approved medical uses for Dysport in adults include the treatment of:
- Cervical dystonia
- Upper limb spasticity
FDA-approved medical uses for Botox in adults include the treatment of:
- Overactive bladder
- Urinary incontinence due to neurologic disease
- Chronic migraines
- Muscle stiffness related to upper and/or lower limb spasticity
- Cervical dystonia
- Eye muscle conditions like strabismus or blepharospasm
Which one should I choose?
In most cosmetic cases, there isn't a major reason for one over the other. It comes down to you and your doctor's personal preferences.
"I like the analogy of Coke versus Pepsi. They are both soda beverages that are similar in taste. Some people just prefer the taste of one over the other, but one is not empirically better than the other," Bielfield says.
During your consultation, discuss your specific cosmetic goals and any past treatment history. For example,if you've already had treatment with Botox or Dysport, you can either stick with the same treatment going forward or switch it up.
If you feel like you aren't getting the results you desire anymore, it may be time to switch. "Patients can develop antibodies over time to certain neuromodulators and they may lose their efficacy, so we may wish to rotate to a different neurotoxin," Hibler says.
Even if you are happy with the results you've been getting from either Botox or Dysport, you can still test out the other type to see if you get longer-lasting or more natural-looking results with the other option.
"Some believe one works more quickly, is more effective or lasts longer than another." Hibler says. But in the end, it all comes down to the same message: "It's often a matter of personal preference," he says.
Botox and Dysport are both neurotoxins that are chemically similar and produce comparable results when used for cosmetic purposes.
Ultimately, whether you should opt for Botox or Dysport is a personal decision. Speaking with a reputable board-certified dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon can help you decide which one is best for your needs, and you can always try out the other option in the future if you wish.