Botox gets a rival - but should you fall for the lure of Azzalure?

Treatment: Sarah Worthington has injections of Azzalure

A serious contender to Botox - the celebrities' favourite frown-freezer - has been launched in the UK.

Azzalure was previously marketed under the brand name Dysport, but licensed only to treat medical conditions such as cerebral palsy, facial tics and strokes - but it can now be used for cosmetic use.

Both drugs contain protein called botulinum toxin, which is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. In large doses the protein can cause botulism, a rare illness often linked to food poisoning.

But in small doses, injected into the face, it simply blocks a chemical that tells the muscles to contract. By stopping the face from frowning, the wrinkles caused by these expressions are effectively ironed out.

The advantage of Azzalure is that it is significantly cheaper than Botox. It costs clinics just £1 per unit, whereas Botox costs between £4 and £6. Depending on the extent of the wrinkles, a patient may need up to 30 units in each area.

Sarah Worthington, 33, an advertising account manager from the New Forest in Hampshire, did have Botox facial injections at the Spire Southampton Hospital, but says that now the cheaper option is available she has switched to Azzalure.

'I've been happy with the results I've had so far and I will certainly continue to have my frown-lines injected with Azzalure.'

So what are the differences - if any - between the two products? Harley Street plastic surgeon Rajiv Grover, secretary of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), says that he prefers Botox and that there is an important distinction between the two.

'Botox has a bigger molecular structure which does not diffuse in the tissue as far as Azzalure,' he says. 'This means that the accuracy of an injection around the eye, for example, is far greater as it is less likely for the toxin to travel away from the site of injection, causing a droopy eyelid or eyebrow.'

Grover adds that even though the differences are very slight, he feels that patients should be told what is being injected into their faces.

'If they are under the impression that they are being given Botox then they should be told if this is not the case,' he says. 'Also, it is important to remember that whichever product you have, make sure that the practitioner is experienced, preferably a member of the British Association of Cosmetic Doctors, and steer clear of having the treatments at beauty salons and health clubs.'

The Department of Health gave approval for Azzalure's cosmetic use earlier this year.


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