Dysport vs. Botox: Differences and Similarities

Dysport (abobotulinumtoxinA) and Botox (onabotulinumtoxinA) are two injectable derivations of botulinum toxin A (a neurotoxin producing temporary muscle paralysis) that are primarily used as cosmetic treatments for wrinkles, laugh lines, crow’s feet, or other lines on the face.

Both also have other medical uses and are known to be safe and cause relatively few side effects. However, Dysport injections may spread more widely and set more quickly than their Botox counterparts.

This article provides a quick overview of how Dysport and Botox compare and what sets them apart to help you better understand your options.

Woman receiving an injection in her forehead

(c) by Cristóbal Alvarado Minic / Getty Images

Dysport and Botox Similarities

At their core, Dysport and Botox share most of their underlying composition and have much in common. Both have a cosmetic use—helping to resolve wrinkles and laugh lines—and uses for specific medical issues. Here’s a breakdown of how they’re similar.

Ingredients

Botulinum toxin A is the core ingredient of Botox and Dysport. The small amounts of this substance in both forms inhibit the release of certain neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) associated with muscular contraction. As such, Dysport and Botox injections work to relax muscles, which confers their therapeutic and cosmetic effects.

Indications 

Though there are some differences, Dysport and Botox share many indications. Both are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as cosmetic treatments to temporarily clear away glabellar lines (also called frown lines or 11 lines). These lines appear on the forehead and between the eyes.

Furthermore, in adults, injections of both Dysport and Botox may treat cervical dystonia, a painful neck spasming that causes sudden head movements.

Administration

Healthcare professionals administer Dysport and Botox with subdermal (beneath the skin) injections. These injections are localized to areas that need treatment, such as the face, for cosmetic reasons or for certain muscular groups. These injections are usually administered in healthcare settings.

Who Administers These Medications?

Because Dysport and Botox have therapeutic and cosmetic effects, various medical professionals are qualified to administer them. Depending on the case, physicians, physician assistants, dentists, registered nurses (RNs), licensed skin care specialists, or plastic surgeons administer the injections. Qualified providers vary from state to state based on local regulations.

Dysport vs. Botox Differences

Dysport and Botox have a lot in common. However, there are also a few critical differences between them in terms of how they work and what it’s like to receive them.

What Can Botox Injection Do That Dysport Cannot?

Dysport and Botox injections can clear away wrinkles between the eyes and on the face; they also share an ability to treat spasticity (muscle stiffness). However, Botox has a broader set of indications and can result in more substantial medical problems.

According to the FDA, Botox can treat crow’s feet, laugh lines, and other types of wrinkles on the face or forehead due to aging, whereas Dysport is only approved for glabellar lines.

Medical Uses of Botox

Botox injection treats a wide range of medical issues. Such therapeutic indications include:

Which Is Cheaper?

Various factors determine how much you pay for Dysport and Botox. Generally, cosmetic procedures, such as removing laugh lines, aren’t covered by insurance, but medical uses may be.

The cosmetic or medical professional administering the treatment can also influence the cost. For instance, plastic surgeons may be costlier than registered nurses. Before undergoing treatment, talk to your provider’s office about how much you can expect to pay.

When comparing pricing, the costs of these treatments are per unit or individual shot. Botox injections cost anywhere from $10–$25 per unit.

In comparison, individual units of Dysport are $4–$8 per unit, but it typically requires three times the amount of units to achieve an effect. Still, the Dysport may be less expensive.  

Which Lasts Longer?

Dysport and Botox offer temporary results, with the effects of the botulinum toxin eventually wearing off and requiring additional therapy. Individual cases vary, but Botox tends to last three to four months, with some seeing an effect of up to six or more months. The same is true for Dysport, with results expected to last 12–16 weeks.

However, a critical difference between the two is that Dysport tends to set quicker than Botox. It takes five days to see the full results of Botox, whereas the effects of Dysport are typically seen within two to three days. That said, it may take up to 14 days for complete results for both options.

Is Dysport More Natural Looking?

Dysport and Botox are effective in reducing wrinkles and lines. Because the composition of Dysport includes specific proteins alongside the botulinum toxin A, it can spread further in the face. Some find it to have a more natural-looking appearance.

One study found that 86.5% of people using Dysport for glabellar lines reported complete satisfaction three months following the initial injection. However, people reported comparable results with Botox. In a study of efficacy for crow's feet for two types of Botox conducted in Japan, 75.8% and 80.8% of subjects reported satisfaction with the treatment at 30 days after treatment.

Both approaches were well tolerated and led to significant improvements in appearance.

Is Dysport More Painful?

Dysport and Botox rely on targeted injections, which cause a pinch but are known to be tolerable. One comparative study noted that Dysport might cause less pain on injection than its counterpart.

Side Effect Comparison

Because Dysport and Botox are injectable treatments and their composition is similar, they have similar side effects. Adverse reactions in both cases are rare and typically reversible, the most common of which are pain, swelling, bleeding, or bruising at the injection site.

In turn, the common side effects of Dysport and Botox are essentially the same and include the following:

  • Fatigue and drowsiness
  • Headache and neck pain
  • Muscle spasms and muscle tightness
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Flu-like symptoms, including fever, coughing, sneezing, nasal congestion, and sore throat

In rare cases, these therapies can also cause more serious adverse effects, which warrant medical attention, including the following:

Overall Results

Dysport and Botox are effective cosmetic injections. In a study comparing the efficacy of Dysport injection for glabellar lines to those receiving sham treatment, 52–60% of patients saw significant improvement at 30 days. Another study noted a significant reduction in these lines in 82% of subjects three months after the initial injection.

Botox injection, the more long-standing of the two, also has a consistent track record of efficacy. In a study conducted in Japan in 2017 for crow’s feet, about 68% of participants reported complete or near complete resolution of the issue at 30 days.

In another study comparing the two treatments for glabellar lines, both were effective. Dysport injection was 90% effective at 30 days versus 65% of Botox.

Is Plastic Surgery Right for Me?

Plastic surgery procedures, such as facelift surgery (rhytidectomy), can achieve similar results. Plastic surgeons redistribute skin in the face via incisions along the hairline, pulling the skin tighter to create a more youthful appearance. By nature, this approach is more invasive.

You should carefully consider the risks and benefits of plastic surgery before undergoing any procedures. Because, unlike Dysport and Botox, the results are permanent, you must be sure you’re getting cosmetic treatment for the right reasons.

Make sure you’re undergoing treatment to boost your confidence and fulfill what you want rather than that of your partner or to fit into perceived social standards. In addition, a good candidate for plastic surgery should be:

  • In overall good health and free of medical issues that can affect healing
  • Not using tobacco or being willing to quit
  • Optimistic and realistic about the outcome of the procedure  

Summary

Dysport and Botox injections are medical procedures commonly used as temporary cosmetic treatments for facial wrinkles and frown lines. They may also be used for limb spasticity, cervical dystonia, and other medical conditions. Both are highly effective, though more shots of Dysport are generally needed to achieve the same effects as less Botox.   

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do the units of Dysport compare to those of Botox?

    Though the underlying composition of Dysport and Botox is similar, there are significant differences in potency. Measured in terms of individual shots or units, Botox is about three times as potent. As such, for a procedure like treating glabellar lines, it takes about 20 units of Botox but closer to 60 for Dysport.   

  • What should you avoid after Dysport?

    To ensure good results after Dysport injections and limit the possibility of side effects, you’ll need to follow your provider’s instructions carefully. Though this therapy is well tolerated, you should avoid touching or rubbing the treated area for at least four hours after treatment. In addition, hold off on exercise for at least 24 hours afterward, and avoid alcohol during this period.

  • Who shouldn’t get Dysport or Botox?

    Though Dysport, Botox, or other botulinum toxin-based therapies are generally well tolerated and minimally invasive, these therapies may not be a good fit for certain people. Because safety hasn’t been established, you shouldn’t get this treatment if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Furthermore, you may not be a good candidate if you have a neurological disease or a dairy allergy.

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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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Additional Reading

By Mark Gurarie
Mark Gurarie is a freelance writer, editor, and adjunct lecturer of writing composition at George Washington University.