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What's the Difference Between Neurotoxins and Dermal Fillers?

What's the Difference Between Neurotoxins and Dermal Fillers?

Each year, the American Association of Plastic Surgeons releases a report on the most popular surgical and nonsurgical aesthetic treatments. The conclusions have been the same since 2021-22: The #1 nonsurgical treatment is injectable neurotoxins such as Botox®. The #2 treatment is dermal fillers, such as Restylane® and Juvéderm®.

What's the difference between neurotoxins and dermal fillers? If they both smooth out wrinkles, how do you choose one over the other? 

In addition to offering expert medical dermatologic care at Specialists in Dermatology, our team also provides cosmetic services at our offices in The Woodlands, Texas, and Houston, Texas. 

If you’re thinking about neurotoxins and fillers, the more you know, the easier the choice becomes. Below is a brief summary of their benefits and how to choose between them, or whether you need to choose at all.

Neurotoxins target muscle

Injectable neurotoxins made from botulinum toxin A, such as Botox® and Dysport®, are used to relax the dynamic muscles that create wrinkles when you make expressions, such as:

When your provider injects a neurotoxin, they target the muscles that create the wrinkles you’d like to erase. Normally, when you make an expression, your brain sends signals through the nerves that tell the dynamic muscles in your face to move.

Neurotoxins block those signals. So, even though your brain tells your face to “frown” — and thereby reinforce the “11”s between your brows — your face doesn’t obey. It can’t frown. Or, depending on the effects you want, it frowns just enough to transmit displeasure or concentration, but not enough to cause or reinforce wrinkles.

Without the force of muscles pushing skin into folds, those wrinkles smooth out. We use neurotoxins to erase dynamic wrinkles such as:

We inject just enough product to relax your muscles sufficiently to smooth out wrinkles. However, you can still make natural-looking expressions.

Neurotoxins take time to work

Depending on whether you choose Botox or Dysport, a neurotoxin can take anywhere from a day to up to two weeks to completely relax your dynamic muscles. During that period, you feel the difference as it becomes more difficult to make extreme expressions.


Once your neurotoxin takes effect, the skin above the treated muscle looks smooth and satiny. Gone are the wrinkles, furrow, and fine lines that troubled you (and caused more worry lines!). Neurotoxins’ effects usually last for about four months.

Fillers target skin

Injectable dermal fillers, such as those found in the Juvéderm and Restylane collections, have a completely different mechanism of action than neurotoxins. Instead of affecting the muscles underneath the skin, they affect the skin itself.

Most dermal fillers are composed of an aqueous gel that contains a substance called hyaluronic acid (HA). Your body produces HA to keep your skin plump and your joints smooth. However, as you age, you produce less and less HA.

Diminished reserves of HA is one of the contributors to static (i.e., nondynamic) wrinkles that are well-treated by dermal fillers. Without HA to keep the skin plump and thick, it collapses and thins, making it susceptible to dryness, wrinkling, and sagging.

To remedy your wrinkle and folds, we inject dermal fillers directly into the areas of deficiency. The HA gel immediately fills in the gaps created by wrinkles and folds. Enriched with HA, your skin plumps up and smooths out. We use dermal fillers to improve the look of:

We can even use dermal fillers to finish up a job begun by Botox. For instance, if your “11” lines are deeply engraved thanks to years or decades of frowning, Botox may not completely smooth out the etched lines. However, we can fill in the gaps with filler, giving you a smooth brow once more.

Fillers give instant results

Unlike neurotoxins, fillers’ effects are instantaneous. As soon as we inject the gel into your wrinkles and folds, they plump up and smooth out. You leave the office looking years younger than you did when you came in. Fillers last anywhere from 6-18 months or even longer, depending on the formulation and treatment area.

Find out whether neurotoxins, fillers, or both will give you the youthful, energized and calm visage you crave. Book your appointment by calling our office or using our convenient online contact form for a neurotoxin or filler treatment today.

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