Botox, Restylane, Dysport, fillers. These brand names and terms seem synonymous given the growing popularity of nonsurgical anti-aging options. However, aside from the fact that they are all injectables, some do fall into different categories than others.

Back to Basics

Injectables fall into two basic categories – neurotoxins and fillers. So what is the difference?

To start, neurotoxins are used to temporarily decrease or eliminate dynamic wrinkles, those wrinkles or frown lines that appear with movement. They are typically used to treat the forehead and/or area between the eyebrows, paralyzing the muscles in order to eliminate the constant creasing of the skin that accompanies brows or forehead movement.

Currently there are three neurotoxins approved by the FDA on the market – with the two most well known being Botox and Dysport. The two brands are very similar in terms of results, but there are a few subtle differences.

Botox is FDA approved for use on the forehead/eyebrow area. Off label, it can be used to treat lines around the nose and mouth. The length of time for each treatment is 10-20 minutes.

Botox typically lasts 3-4 months, but can last as long as six months after several treatments. With long term application, the benefits of Botox can even last beyond the point when it has worn off; as the skin regenerates, the depth of lines will decrease.

Dysport involves one injection into each of five points between and over the eyebrows. It specifically targets the glabullar muscles — the ones that form creases on your forehead when you frown. Like Botox, the prescription treatment is brief, typically 10-20 minutes in length. In some patients results have lasted as long as 13 months, but study findings are mixed in terms of the duration.

Dysport diffuses a bit farther from the injection point than Botox – one to three centimeters compared to Botox’s one centimeter. While this means that fewer injections are required to produce comparable results, it also means that the health professional doing the injections must be very skilled. It is imperative to prevent the drug from spreading to nearby muscles and causing eyelid and/or eyebrow drooping or other unwanted side effects.

Filling and Fabulous

There are three different types of fillers – temporary, semi-permanent and permanent.

Despite their classification, temporary fillers have a lengthy duration time, anywhere from four to 18 months. They include hyaluronic acid fillers like Restylane, Juvederm and Perlane. These injectables correct facial lines and wrinkles by literally filling them.

Semi-permanent fillers can last up to a few years. Radiesse, a product made of synthetic calcium hydroxlapatite microspheres, stimulates collagen production in addition to acting as a filler and can last up to one year or longer. Sculptra replaces lost collagen as well, with the results from one treatment potentially lasting for up to two years.

Silikon, a liquid injectable silicone, is a permanent injectable filler that is used “off-label” to treat wrinkles. It was approved by the FDA to treat retinal detachment in the eye.

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