Every year hundreds of thousands of people around the world visitor their doctors for help reducing the appearance of wrinkles. Xeomin® (pronounced Zeo-min) is one of the latest prescription treatments to be approved in the U.S. and over 50 other countries for the treatment of fine lines. Not only can it help reduce frown or forehead lines, crow’s feet, smile lines around your eyes, and wrinkles near your mouth, but Xeomin may also make you appear to be more relaxed and less tired.
According to the American Academy of Facial Esthetics, “Worldwide, more than 84,000 people have been treated with Xeomin injections.” (1) Xeomin has been successfully and safely used in many countries since 2005 and gained FDA approval in the U.S. in 2011. Today, Xeomin is considered an alternative to Botox and Dysport injections, two popular treatments that have anti-aging effects.
Clinical trials that have been conducted thus far suggest that Xeomin is just as effective as Botox, and while Xeomin shares its active ingredient — called botulinum toxin type A — with other similar drugs, its unique manufacturing process means it has no additives and therefore may pose less risk of causing allergic reactions and side effects.
What Is Xeomin?
Xeomin® (incobotulinumtoxinA) is a prescription medication used to treat fine lines. How does it work? Xeomin is a type of neurotoxin that works by blocking the release of chemicals that cause muscles under the skin to contract, contributing over time to wrinkles, frown lines and other signs of aging.
According to the makers of Xeomin® (Merz Pharmaceuticals), the product is “a highly purified neurotoxin” that goes through a unique manufacturing process, allowing the most therapeutic components to be isolated and concentrated. The product contains the active ingredient called botulinum toxin type A, which is a type of protein that’s purified from the bacterium called Clostridium botulinum. Botulinum toxin type A acts on nerve endings in muscles to prevent muscle fibers from contracting and contributing to signs of aging. (2)
Xeomin injections are injected into muscles in the face to improve the look of moderate to severe frown lines in adults, most often those that form between the eyebrows (these are technically called “glabellar lines”). The injections are only a temporary solution for reducing wrinkles and need to be repeated within several months for skin to retain its improved appearance.
Xeomin vs. Botox vs. Dysport
There are other similar products to Xeomin available on the market, such as the medication called Dysport®, which have the same active ingredient and indication as Xeomin. Of course, there is also Botox, probably the most well-known injectable medication for reducing wrinkles.
All three of these drugs — Xeomin and Botox and Dysport — have earned FDA approval for the treatment of facial wrinkles. Even though these drugs are indicated to treat lines between the eyebrows, they are also used by doctors “off label” to treat frown lines around the mouth, lines around the eyes called “crow’s feet” and forehead wrinkles. Sometimes they are even injected into the armpits to help reduce excessive sweating.
So what’s the biggest difference between Xeomin®, and Botox® and Dysport®?
- According to Advanced Dermatology, “The active ingredient in Xeomin, botulinum toxin, is exactly the same as in Botox and Dysport. Patients whose cosmetic results with Botox or Dysport are unsatisfactory may have more success with Xeomin.” (3)
- The makers of Dysport state that the product delivers “natural looking results” and is “proven to help smooth the appearance of moderate to severe frown lines between the eyebrows without changing the look or movement of the rest of your face.” (4) Dysport has been approved for longer than Xeomin has and is currently approved for use in over 69 countries. Xeomin is currently approved in 51 countries.
- Patients tend to see results from both Xeomin and Dysport within two to three days but stop seeing results in about two to four months.
- Dysport and Xeomin can cause similar temporary side effects, especially in people who are allergic to their active ingredient. Dysport is not indicated for people who are allergic to cow’s milk protein, but this warning doesn’t seem to apply to Xeomin.
- A study published in the Journal of Neurological Sciences found that Xeomin showed “non-inferiority” compared to Botox when used in the same doses to treat fine lines. This means that according to to the study, both Botox and Xeomin are safe and effective. Both of these injections tend to cause results within a week, and results tend to last for a similar duration of time (about three months but sometimes longer, such as up to six months).
- One advantage of Xeomin is that it has no additives and just contains botulinum toxin type A. Some proteins that are found in other medications that may trigger a negative response by the immune system are removed, which may mean it leads to fewer side effects. Some speculate that less proteins means less chance for antibodies to develop and less risk for an allergic response. (5)
- Xeomin is also the first drug of its kind that does not need to be refrigerated before use. This helps with distribution, which may make it more widely available and possibly cheaper.
- All three of these drugs can cause similar side effects, such as bleeding and bruising at the injection site and allergic reactions, such as skin irritation, itching, swelling or shortness of breath.
- The cost of these medications ranges depending on where they are administered. Costs are usually comparable for the different drugs, although Xeomin may be less costly compared to Botox.
Benefits and Risks of Xeomin
Benefits of Xeomin Injections
Are there any studies showing that Xeomin is effective and also safe? There have been two randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials that have found that Xeomin is effective in adults for reducing fine lines near the eyes/forehead. As of 2011, the FDA approved Xeomin for use in treating glabellar lines. (6)
These studies included 547 healthy adults with an average age of 46. Each patient received 20 units of Xeomin a. If a patient was found to have a two-grade improvement on a four-point scale in terms of their severity of fine lines, then they were considered to be a positive responder to Xeomin (meaning the product worked to improve the appearance of their skin). Compared to placebo, Xeomin was successful at reducing fine lines in 60 percent of participants in one study and 48 percent of participants in another. In both studies, 0 percent of participants receiving the placebo experienced skin improvements.
Risks and Side Effects Associated with Xeomin
Xeomin is usually safe but can potentially cause serious side effects in some people, even some that can be life-threatening. Side effects are most likely to occur in people with an allergy to any of the ingredients found in Xeomin®, such as incobotulinumtoxin A, human albumin or sucrose. When symptoms of an allergic reaction to Xeomin occur, they can include itching, rash, redness, swelling, wheezing, asthma symptoms, or dizziness or feeling faint. (7)
If you’ve ever had a bad reaction to any other botulinum toxin products — such as rimabotulinumtoxinB (found in Mybloc®), onabotulinumtoxinA (found in Botox) or abobotulinumtoxinA (found in Dysport) — then Xeomin may also potentially cause you to have an allergic reaction.
You should always report any allergies that you’re aware of to your doctor before treatments. Also let your doctor know right away if you experience any of these side effects:
- Problems with swallowing, speaking or breathing. If you’ve had breathing problems in the past, you may be at a higher risk fo experiencing these side effects. Rarely swallowing problems can become bad enough that they last for several months and require tube feeding in order to receive food and water.
- A reaction called botulism, which is due to toxins spreading in the body. Botulinum toxin may affect areas of the body away from the injection site and cause side effects like loss of strength, muscle weakness, double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, hoarseness, trouble speaking, lack of bladder control, trouble breathing and trouble swallowing.
Xeomin® might not be safe for adults dealing with any of the health conditions below. If you have a history of one of these medical conditions, you should talk to your doctor about the risks involved with using Xeomin.
- Any disease that affects your muscles and nerves (such as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease)
- Breathing problems, such as asthma or emphysema
- Swallowing problems
- Fluid into your lungs (aspiration)
- Bleeding problems
- Drooping eyelids
- Recent surgery, especially on your face
- You’re pregnant or breastfeeding
- You are younger than 18 years of age, since Xeomin® is only indicated for adults over 18
Other Common Questions About Xeomin
How much does Xeomin cost?
The cost for Xeomin and other cosmetic treatments depends on the amount of the medication that’s needed. This varies among patients. Usually men need more units than women because their muscles are larger. The cost is determined by the number of units being injected. The cost is usually about $9 to $11 per unit of Xeomin. Botox prices can be similar, although they tend to be slightly higher at about $10 $15 per unit.
This can equate to about $200 per treatment of Xeomin but depends on the size of the area being treated. Some treatments may be as little as $50, while others are as high as $400. (8)
How long does each treatment take?
Each Xeomin treatment usually takes about 10–20 minutes and is performed at your doctor’s office. Your doctor injects Xeomin® into the muscles in your forehead near your eyebrows. No anesthesia is usually required because the injection is usually not very painful. Some physicians will choose to use a topical anesthetic or cold pack however to reduce any pain or discomfort. You will need more than one injection during each treatment. Your doctor will mark tiny dots on your skin where an injection will need to be inserted, and then he or she will use about five to 20 injections per treatment session.
How long will results last?
Most people notice improvements in their skin between three to four days after receiving an injection. The average time to see improvements is within one week. Maximum effects will last for about one month (30 days), but you will likely still notice an improved appearance for about three to four months. Each person reacts a bit differently to treatment; some people will retain results for longer, and some for less than three months. The time between injections increases with repeated treatments, so after you’ve been using Xeomin for a while you may retain results for about six months instead of three.
How many treatments are needed?
This is really up to you, depending on your goals. You can receive just one treatment and retain results for several months, then decide not to have any more treatments, or you might choose to visit your doctor for treatments every several months in order to keep seeing results.
Final Thoughts on Xeomin
- Xeomin® (incobotulinumtoxinA) is a prescription medication used to treat fine lines. It’s typically injected into the muscles near the eyebrows but can also be used to treat other wrinkles on the face.
- Clinical trials that have been conducted thus far have found that Xeomin is just as effective as other medications with the same indication, including Botox and Dysport. The active ingredient in Xeomin, called botulinum toxin A, is exactly the same as in Botox and Dysport.
- One advantage of Xeomin is that it has no additives and just contains botulinum toxin type A. Some proteins that are found in other medications that may trigger a negative response by the immune system are removed, which may mean it leads to fewer side effects.
- Xeomin is generally safe for adults over 18 but can potentially cause some side effects. These can include an allergic reaction, pain at the injection site, redness, bumps, itching, or potentially even problems swallowing, speaking or breathing.
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