Julie Ann Hepburn wanted to look the way she felt. So the active 40-year-old decided to do something about her frown lines. She gave Botox a try.
"I honestly think next to hair color it's the best possible thing," said Hepburn.
Now Hepburn is also a fan of Dysport, the newly FDA approved competitor of Botox.
"I think it does kinda last a little bit longer," said Hepburn.
Carolyn Jacob is Hepburn's dermatologist and friend. She says the difference between Botox and Dysport is very subtle.
"We're not exactly sure what makes them slightly different from one another. They're all effective but the disport seems to work a little bit faster and maybe last a little bit longer," said Dr. Jacob.
The maker of Dysport makes no claims of superiority. Some liken the comparison of the products to Coke and Pepsi.
But a spokesperson from Allergan, the maker of Botox, tells ABC7 the products are not interchangeable and that each is unique and has its own formulation, potency and safety profile.
Dysport and Botox use purified forms of the bacterial poison that causes botulism. Injected in the face, the treatment lessens wrinkles by temporarily reducing muscle activity.
"They prevent the permanent creasing of the skin in the upper third of the face. So it definitely can be used as a preventative measure," said Dr. Jacob.
The FDA is now requiring both products carry warnings of potentially life threatening health risks from the injections. That includes difficulty swallowing and breathing. With cosmetic use most complaints are about temporary problems such as uneven eyebrows or droopy eyelids.
Susan Pinkus knows this all too well.
"It was a little disheartening and a little scary," said Pinkus.
Pinkus blames a temporary eye lid droop from a bad application years ago. The 56-year-old didn't give up though. She shopped around for another doctor and says her results with Botox are now amazing.
"People do feel that I look younger than my years," said Pinkus.
Chicago plastic surgeon Julius Few says he's frequently asked to fix the mistakes others make with these injectables. He also trains practitioners on how to safely apply Dysport.
"For Dysport, in the upper face you should use it essentially the same. For the lower face you need to be a little bit more conservative because there's not so much data on how the effects work," said Dr. Few.
Clinicians tell ABC7 so far the price for both has been comparable. Now as an incentive to get people to try Dysport the company is ratcheting up it's campaign with a rebate promotion. But talk of deals and discounts has doctors warning that decisions should be based on safety and efficacy - not just on an enticing price tag.
"Make sure your time and money are well spent. And you are much better off going to board certified plastic surgeon or dermatologist that has experience doing these kinds of treatments," said Dr. Few.
Generally it costs anywhere from $300 to $500 dollars or more per treatment. There are other injectable toxins now being used in Europe and doctors tell us to expect at least two more competitors to be approved here in the U.S. sometime soon.
Dr. Julius Few
The Few Institute
875 N. Michigan Ave
Chicago, Il. 60611
Dr. Carolyn Jacob
Chicago Cosmetic Surgery & Dermatology
20 West Kinzie
Chicago, IL 60654
American Academy of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery
American Academy of Dermatology