Researchers discovered in the 1950s that injecting overactive muscles with minute quantities of botulinum toxin type A decreased muscle activity by blocking the release of acetylcholine at the neuromuscular junction, thereby rendering the muscle unable to contract for a period 3 to 4 months.

Alan Scott, a San Francisco ophthalmologist, first applied tiny doses of the toxin in a medicinal sense to treat ‘crossed eyes’ (strabismus) and ‘uncontrollable blinking’ (blepharospasm), but needed a partner to gain regulatory approval to market his discovery as a drug. Allergan, Inc., a pharmaceutical company that focused on prescription eye therapies and contact lens products, bought the rights to the drug in 1988 and received FDA approval in 1989. Allergan renamed the drug Botox.

Cosmetically desirable effects of Botox were first discovered by Vancouver-based cosmetic surgeons Drs. Alastair and Jean Carruthers. The serendipitous discovery occurred when the husband-and-wife team observed the softening of patients’ frown lines following treatment for eye muscle disorders, leading to clinical trials and subsequent FDA approval for cosmetic use in April 2002. As of 2007, Botox injection is the most common cosmetic operation, with 4.6 million procedures in the United States, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Besides its cosmetic application, Botox is used in the treatment of:

  • migraine headaches
  • hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating – armpits, hands, feet)
  • severe primary axillary hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating)

Other uses of botulinum toxin type A that are widely known but not specifically approved by FDA include treatment of:

  • TMJ pain disorders
  • wound healing
  • excessive salivation

Treatment and prevention of chronic headache and chronic musculoskeletal pain are emerging uses for botulinum toxin type A. In addition, there is evidence that Botox may aid in weight loss by increasing the gastric emptying time.

Dysport has been approved for use in cosmetic procedures treating and relaxing wrinkles in the forehead and around the mouth. Dysport, works very similar to Botox, and represents a new alternative to Botox.

When you use Dysport, or Botox, both are a form of a toxin which causes temporary paralysis to the facial muscles, thus minimizing or eliminating unwanted lines and wrinkles. Dysport seems to cover a wider area and spreads more easily over an area. This is often preferred in light muscled areas such as those near the eyes, specifically when treating Crow’s Feet, or the forehead. Botox also does a very effective job in those areas and I am equally happy with both products.

While both Dysport and Botox are temporary procedures, there is a suggestion that Dysport results can last longer than those of Botox, although clinically I am not so sure of that fact.

The side effects of Dysport are very similar to Botox, and might include numbness, bruising, swelling, or a feeling of burning may be felt in and around the injection site. Although in both products these are very rare, with minimal bruising being the most common.

In terms of cost, Dysport and Botox are quite similar, although there are often rewards type options from both products during different times of the year.

While both Dysport and Botox are similar chemically and cost-wise, some say that Dysport is a better choice due to the longevity and quickness of its results. Again, I have used both successful, and hundreds of clinical trials have proven both Dysport’s and Botox’s success and dozens more have proven their safety. The use of either product is primarily determined by patients positive past experiences, and results, and I am very experienced using either product.