If wrinkles are writing your age across your face in those forehead lines, crows’ feet and smile lines, you might be considering some sort of cosmetic procedure to hold back time.
For many, getting injections of a neuromodulator, like Botox or Dysport, is the obvious and easiest answer. However, many worry about both short and long-term side effects, especially with Dysport, since it is a lesser known neuromodulator.
Understanding what Dysport actually is, how it differs from Botox, and its potential risks can help set your mind at ease.
What Is Dysport?
Dysport is a neuromodulator made from botulinum toxin. This toxin blocks nerve signals from the brain to the treated muscles, which means it acts as a muscle relaxant to injection sites. Botulinum toxin was originally discovered and used to treat eye and facial tremors and muscle disorders.
During its original medical application, doctors realized that the botulinum toxin also relaxed the muscles that were responsible for creating forehead, eye, and smile wrinkles, and thus its use in cosmetic medicine was born.
While Botox has been in use for over 20 years, Dysport is newer. It gained FDA recognition and approval in 2009 although it was in use in Europe some time before that.
When Dysport, one brand of FDA-approved botulinum toxin treatment, is injected into treatment areas, such as the forehead, between the eyes, eye creases, and smile lines, it relaxes the wrinkle-forming muscles temporarily, usually for about 4 months.
Because of how precisely it is injected through very small needles, the impact is only to the desired facial muscles and will not hinder other facial movements or expressions. When a doctor injects it, the results will only impact the muscles that cause the undesired wrinkles.
How Is Dysport Different from Botox?
In its chemical makeup, Dysport does have some differences from Botox, which means it may have subtly different impacts:
- Less proteins: Technically, this means that the body will not recognize it and attack it as quickly, which should mean it lasts longer. However…
- Shorter duration: Some research indicates that its efficacy does not last quite as long as Botox, but this is still being studied and debated.
- Spreads more: Dysport spreads out more easily to other muscles in the face because of a slightly smaller molecular structure. This can be good because one injection can hit more areas. It enables Dysport to be very effective in larger areas, like forehead wrinkles and crow’s feet, and requires less.But this can also be bad, especially if not handled by a very precise and practiced physician, because it could cause muscles to slack that you do not want to, resulting in things like a drooping eye-brow.
As such, some propose that Dysport is better for larger treatment areas while Botox is better for more specific areas.
- More diluted: This mostly means that doctors need to be aware so that they can dose Dysport accurately, since it will have a different dosage than Botox. The dilution does make Dysport cheaper in the short term. However, since it takes more units of Dysport to have the same effect, in the long run it may not be cheaper.
- Faster onset: Studies demonstrate that Dysport does have a faster onset, taking only 2-5 days instead of 4-7 like in Botox.
However, when double blind studies have been performed (meaning neither patient nor doctor knew which specific product they were using), neither could tell the difference.
When it comes to the similarities between Dysport and Botox, they both require re-injection every 3-6 months, can be safely used for multiple parts of the face and body, and could come out equal in price. Even though more Dysport is needed for treatment, it is also cheaper.
Essentially, the two are very comparable and results as well as side-effects are more a matter of who administers the injection than the injection itself.
Regardless of which product you choose, you should always seek a licensed medical professional – either a doctor, PA or nurse – with extensive training and experience specifically in the injection of neuromodulators for cosmetic purposes.
What Are the Potential Risks?
Up to this point, there have been no significantly different side-effects reported, and Dysport is considered safe by the FDA.
However, as with all medical procedures and substances, there are some side effects and potential risks.
Common but very temporary side effects include initial:
- Burning or stinging during the injection
- Mild redness and swelling
- Mild bruising pain at injection site
- Itching or rash at injection site
- Feeling of heaviness at injection site
The above side effects, particularly the burning/stinging, swelling and bruising typically go down within the first 24-72 hours or less. The latter typically dissipate within 1-2 weeks.
Additional side effects that are not as common and which may last a little longer include:
- Cold or flu-like symptoms
- Respiratory symptoms
- Dry mouth
- Numbness around injection site
Still less common and more severe side effects, which could take days or weeks to arise, include:
- Drooping eyebrows
- Drooping eyelids
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty speaking
- Loss of bladder control
- Muscle weakness
- Trouble swallowing or breathing
In the case of the more extreme reactions, these are incredibly rare and often avoidable if you provide a full medical history to your treating physician. These types of extreme reactions usually only occur in patients who received higher than normal doses of Dysport or who were treated by a less than qualified or experienced practitioner.
It is important to discuss any medical conditions, medications, or history with your cosmetic doctor, so they can advise you on whether Dysport might hold any of these risks for you.
Is It Worth It?
Overall, it is always best to seek a practiced, skilled and qualified medical professional for advice on what treatment is best for you. But in general, if you are looking for a reliable and safe way to treat your facial wrinkles, Dysport offers as good a method as any.
Dr. Andres Bustillo, MD is a board-certified rhinoplasty specialist and facial plastic surgery expert in Miami, FL.