Botox is one of the most popular outpatient cosmetic procedures done in the United States, but it’s simply one brand in a market full of skin rejuvenation therapies. While Botox undoubtedly remains the most popular choice, there are several alternatives that physicians can recommend for their patients.
Which leads to the question: is there a “generic” Botox cosmetic? You can consider botulinum toxin (the base form of Botox) as its generic form, but that does not guarantee that it’ll be an effective cosmetic treatment. And while there are generic brands that may use Botulinum toxin, using them has a lot of risks.
Branded vs. Generic Botox Cosmetics
In the consumer market, a branded product carries prestige – and a certain markup in price. But branding is more than just a marketing ploy, especially with Botox. What separates “generic Botox” and “branded Botox” is Food and Drug Administration approval.
FDA approval is a necessary step for a product to become a brand. Botox, Dysport, Jeuveau, are all FDA-approved brands, which means their effects (and their side effects) have been studied and deemed safe for use. Branded Botox medications have gone through a rigorous safety testing and vetting process, with peer-reviewed studies conducted by healthcare experts.
The Botox brand in particular is expensive because it’s a product that’s been tried and tested by medical professionals since the 90s. When you get Botox, you have the assurance that the formula will more or less work the way you expect it to, give you the results you want, with manageable or minimal side effects.
What Exactly Is Botox?
“Botox” is the blanket term used to describe the medication used to reduce wrinkles, facial lines, and other signs of aging. To be more specific, “Botox” is a brand of botulinum toxin created by the company Allergan in 1991. It was originally called Oculinum – a medication used to treat eye muscle disorders like drooping eyelids.
The base ingredient of Botox is botulinum toxin (type A), a neurotoxin which relaxes the muscles by blocking nerve signals that cause them to contract. This prevents the appearance of wrinkles, frown lines, forehead lines, and other fine lines and deep lines that come with aging.
Allergan’s Botox is only one of many medications that use botulinum toxin. Technically, any product that uses botulinum toxin can qualify as “generic Botox”, even without the branding. As long as it functions as a neuromuscular blocker, it can technically be used as a cosmetic injectable.
Why Using Generic Botox Is Dangerous For Your Body
Using generic Botox cosmetics can be risky because they haven’t gone through the FDA’s testing process. This means that while they can eliminate wrinkles and other facial lines, it’s highly likely that you’ll also experience severe side-effects.
Another problem with non-brand cosmetics is that they may not always provide the results they advertise, with the increased risk that their effects can be extremely detrimental to whoever takes them. This risk is even higher with products like botulinum toxin, since improper dosage or application can cause your body serious harm.
When you use branded cosmetics like Botox, you have full confidence that you’re covered by the company’s guarantee that their product works. You can even claim compensation if their product goes wrong: as an example, if you get prescribed Botox to treat your migraine, it’s covered by Medicare Part B.
Non-branded cosmetics don’t have that guarantee, and they’re not usually covered by medical insurance. If you decide to take the risk and use generic Botox cosmetics, your health insurer may not cover you if things go wrong.
Aestheticians, dermatologists, and doctors will also refuse to administer any non-branded Botox, which means you must inject it yourself. Self-administering any injectable is always risky, but it can be deadly if you’re dealing with botulinum toxin. Improper application can cause a variety of issues like:
- Botulism-like symptoms
- Viral infection
- Numbing in the injected area
- Muscle weakness
- Trouble breathing
Alternatives To Botox Cosmetic Treatments
Botox is still the most recognized injectable treatment used to treat wrinkles and other signs of aging, but new injectables enter the market all the time. While these injectables differ slightly in how they work and how effective their results are, they still use botulinum toxin as their principal ingredient.
In particular, two FDA-approved brands have emerged as the leading competitors to Botox injections: Dysport and Jeuveau. Here is how all three products stack against each other:
|Owned by Allergan||Owned by Galderma Laboratories||Owned by Evolus|
|Also known as OnabotulinumtoxinA injection||Also known as AbobotulinumtoxinA injection||Also known as PrabotulinumtoxinA injection|
|Starts to work in three to five days and full results within two weeks.||Starts to work within one to three days, with up to a week for full skin integration||Starts to work within 2-3 days, with two weeks for full skin integration|
|FDA approved for forehead, frown lines, and crow’s feet although it is uses for many years in other areas as well.||FDA approved for forehead and frown lines although it is used for many years in other areas as well.||FDA approved for glabellar lines (frown lines), but also used in other areas.|
|Lasts on average 3 months||Lasts on average 3-4 months||Lasts on average 3-6 months|
When To Consider Using Dysport
Dermatologists may recommend Dysport if their patients want fewer appointments to keep track of during their treatment. Because the effects of Dysport last slightly longer than Botox, patients will find it easier to manage the after effects of multiple Dysport injections. It specializes in removing eyebrow lines, though it can also treat areas like bunny lines.
One consideration that you should keep in mind before using it is lactose intolerance. Dysport uses cow’s milk protein as a bonding molecule, which can react poorly with patients who are allergic to it.
The formula is also better for people who have severe cases of frown lines, so dermatologists must be able to differentiate wrinkles of that type before recommending an injection.
When To Consider Using Jeuveau
Jeuveau was developed as a cheaper alternative to Botox injections and has been touted as being more beginner-friendly than most botulinum toxin injections. Because it’s much newer compared to Botox and Dysport, there are few studies and information on the long-term efficacy and results of Jeuveau. As of the moment, it’s only cleared for use for removing fine lines on the eyebrow.
The biggest advantage that it offers compared to Botox or Dysport is its competitive pricing. On average, Jeuveau treatments can cost $100 to $200 dollars less than Botox treatments depending on how much medication you need. It’s an excellent alternative for patients who need facial rejuvenation, but don’t require intensive and lengthy treatments.
Things To Consider When Using Botox Alternatives
When recommending Botox alternatives, physicians need to set their patient’s expectations about the results. Botox is still considered the default because medical professionals are confident in how it works and have a fair expectation of what the results will be when using it.
Here are three things to keep in mind if you decide to use these alternatives to Botox:
- How they work to remove facial lines
While these injectables derive their principal ingredient from botulinum toxin, each brand uses their proprietary mixture for creating the medication. This means that even if the botulinum toxin works as intended, other compounds that each brand adds to the mix can change how it works.
This can be mild changes, like having a longer downtime to serious complications like botulism. Each person has a unique reaction to botulinum toxin injections. This causes a small but noticeable difference in how patients respond to different Botox treatments.
This difference is most apparent with the areas that each injectable can treat. As a well-established brand, Botox has the advantage of removing more wrinkles and facial lines, which can result in more improvements to your overall appearance compared to Dysport or Jeuveau.
- Their results and the lines they remove
Because of these minute differences in their botulinum toxin medications, it’s possible that efficacy between brands can differ from patient to patient. Botox’s effects are well-studied and documented, which make it a great default option for botulinum toxin injections. Dysport is an excellent alternative if Botox injections don’t work for patients, with faster results that last longer.
However, Dysport underperforms compared to Jeuveau with the areas that it can treat. Using Dysport on mild instances of glabellar lines may cause overcorrection. Jeuveau can’t treat wrinkles outside of frown lines, which Botox excels in reducing.
Dermatologists will need to work with the patient’s requests when recommending an alternative to Botox. Proper diagnosis is critical when deciding to give the go-ahead for using another brand of botulinum toxin injectable.
- The dermatologist’s experience
One last thing that you need to consider when choosing a Botox alternative is the skill of your dermatologist and the tools they use. Experience and familiarity with Botox injections can help improve your treatment and make follow-up sessions much easier.
While they can administer Botox and other injectables in the same way, your dermatologist’s experience with the product can help them identify and inject sites more accurately, recommend better aftercare, and reduce the time and product needed for future applications. Before you ask for any alternatives to Botox, check if your dermatologist has familiarity with the product.
This way, you can get reliable medical advice if the product isn’t working for you or if side effects last longer than intended. Your dermatologist can also personalize your treatment plan to account for factors like your pain tolerance, prior experience with injectables, and your lifestyle.
When Botox Is Still The Best Option
While the effectiveness of Botox alternatives has been FDA-approved, there are still situations where Botox is still the best option. If you’re still not sure about what kind of injectable to use, here are several reasons you should still choose Botox:
- More uses and applications
Botox can be used in almost all areas on the face where wrinkles form, making it more versatile that Dysport or Jeuveau with improving your appearance. You can even have multiple injections in a single session, and can work on areas apart from the eyebrows.
Botox can also work with other skin rejuvenation treatments like dermal fillers or micro-needling. This gives you better results both long-term and short term, with the collagen-regrowing properties of fillers complementing the skin tightening of Botox.
- Proven results and recovery period
Another reason you should use Botox is that you have an excellent chance of achieving the results you want. Since it’s been studied, improved, and tested for efficacy, you don’t have to worry about the treatment going wrong.
This also means doses are more efficient. The effects of Botox on a young adult vs someone older are well-documented, which means that you can enjoy its results even as you get older.
Your dermatologist can also help you manage any post-operative aftercare you might need, and even give you advice on how to make your results last longer. Even if your injection site will require re-application, the results will always stay consistent between sessions.
- More accessible
Botox is readily available from most medical spas and cosmetic practices. Since its alternatives have just recently entered the market or aren’t very recognized, it’s likely that most dermatologists near you may not offer them as treatments.
If you’re looking for quick results and don’t want to wait for your local clinic to source any alternatives, using Botox is an excellent option. Additionally, the effects of Botox stack the longer you take them – so you get more mileage out of using them early compared to waiting for the alternative.
- Better methods of application
Finally, your dermatologist is more likely to be experienced with applying Botox than the alternatives. This means they have a better understanding of how the product works, and can provide you with a better treatment regimen.
This also gives them the confidence to use other medical devices and methods to apply Botox, potentially bypassing some of the most common side effects. A good example of this is using blunt-tip cannulas for painless application and reduced likelihood of bruising.
However, Botox still has the same considerations and side effects that come with using neuromuscular injections. If you notice any significant issues after your treatment, consult a medical professional immediately.
Get Botox Treatments And More At Anand Medical Spa
It will ultimately depend on your dermatologist on what treatment you’ll get, since each injectable has its own merits and drawbacks. The key takeaway is that while you should never use generic Botox cosmetics, you have options to choose from if you decide regular Botox isn’t for you.
At Anand Medical Spa, we have extensive experience with Botox treatments and other skin rejuvenation therapies. We pride ourselves on excellent customer service by using the most innovative and effective cosmetic treatments in New York. Schedule a consultation with us today to find out what we can do for you.
Read more: How to Prevent Bruising After BotoxShare
About the Author:Dr. Sunanda Chugh is the Founder and Medical Director of Anand Medical Spa and has been practicing in NYC since 2004. She is a graduate of Cornell University and has completed her training at St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital/Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. Dr. Chugh has worked and trained with top Plastic Surgeons and Dermatologists in NYC. Her special interest on the effect of the aging process on the face and body inspired her to specialize in Aesthetic Medicine.