Injectable toxins are among the most popular cosmetic procedures in the U.S. and with their super-effective wrinkle-reducing abilities and fairly affordable price tag, it’s understandably so. But while Botox (produced by aesthetic giants, Allergan) has become a household name over the years due to being the first to arrive on the scene, it’s worth knowing that it’s not the only kid on the neurotoxin block.
Not to be confused with fillers, neurotoxins temporarily reduce wrinkles by altering the nerve impulses of targeted muscles, which in effect ‘paralyzes’ them. And while we believe the experience and professionalism of your injector is far more critical than the injectable itself, it’s also smart to know the difference between what’s on offer. After all, you wouldn’t just slap any old moisturizer on your skin simply because you’d ‘tried moisturizer’ before. Any skin-savvy woman worth her SPF would do a little homework first.
Lesser known, but equally as effective as Botox are Dysport (Galderma) and Xeomin (Merz Aesthetics), which many of our partners count as just as important in their anti-aging arsenal as the mighty Botox.
Using a slightly different formulation of the same substance – clostridium botulinum or botulinum toxin A – Dysport and Xeomin both block nerve impulses and paralyze the muscles in the same way as Botox. They all involve needles, take around 20 minutes to perform, have a low rate of side effects and can be used to treat everything from wrinkles to migraines.
Sounds like they’re basically the same thing, right? Well, actually there are a few minor differences…
“Botox, Dysport and Xeomin all use the same basic botulism toxin molecule, except that in Xeomin this molecule is not coated, so it doesn’t have to be refrigerated for storage,” explains board-certified plastic, cosmetic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Barbara Persons, founder of Persons Plastic Surgery in Lafayette.
“The other main difference is in dilution, or in other words, the number of molecules you get per syringe,” she adds.
“For every one unit of Botox or Xeomin, the equivalent for Dysport would be three units. This is why the costs vary so much on a price per unit basis.”
Some doctors believe that because Dysport has fewer and smaller proteins – with different unit measurements – it works quicker than Botox and Xeomin, and offers faster results of up to 24 to 48 hours earlier.
“There are no definitive studies about this,” explains Dr. Persons. “But in my experience Dysport does seem to take effect faster and last a little bit longer.”
Dysport is also believed to have more diffusion and a better distribution, often making it the preferred choice for areas where there are lots of fine lines such as crow’s feet.
So, speed is perhaps where Dysport has the edge. But what about the even lesser known Xeomin? Why choose Xeomin above Botox?
“While studies have yet to determine reliable data on long-term efficacy, my experience has shown that certain patients can build antibodies which deactivate the toxin faster, so the effect is shorter and they may require more product for the same effect,” says Dr. Persons.
“This is why Xeomin (with its naked, uncoated molecule) seems to work better with people who’ve built up antibodies to Botox,” she adds.
What to do when confronted with such choices when you’re next at the doctor’s office? Let them lead the way in the decision-making, but please remember one thing. Any doctor can undergo any kind of procedure, meaning there are far too many body-altering surgeons in the world of aesthetics who shouldn’t be. Our advice? Only trust a board-certified physician (preferably a derm or plastic surgeon) who has undergone years of training and is experienced in injectables.
You should also never be afraid to ask a bunch of questions before entrusting a potential doctor to stick a needle in your face or body. Ask to see references, as well as before and after photos of previous patients, and if you’re not 100 percent comfortable, move on. No matter how skilled your injector might be, if they have a poor bedside manner or you simply don’t click, they’re not for you.
When you’ve found your perfect injector, we also recommend incorporating your neurotoxin procedures into a regular beauty plan in which you pay for your treatments on a monthly basis. Not only does a beauty plan offer consistency, but by signing up to a plan, you receive regular treatment schedules, including personal reminders so you’ll never forget a treatment or leave it too late. This makes it oh-so-simple to stay on-track with your appointments and maintain your youthful appearance – period.
Makes sense, right?
Written by: Georgia Gould