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Are Botox and Dysport suitable for vegans and Juvéderm?

As the popularity of the vegan lifestyle grows, and the popularity of minimally invasive cosmetic treatments grows as well, this is likely to lead in only one direction: your patients are asking more questions about vegan-friendly cosmetic injections. You may be an expert in restoring youth and beauty, but these lifestyle questions can be difficult to address, even for experienced cosmetic injectors. Sooner or later, one of your patients will ask if their favourite injectable is suitable for vegans, so you need to know what makes a product vegan and whether Juvéderm, Restylane, Botox and other injections fall into this category.

What makes a product suitable for vegans?

Ingredients

For a product to be vegan, it must not contain animal products, but it must also be free of animal-derived ingredients. When it comes to food, for example, it must not contain meat, but it must also be free of eggs, dairy products and other products obtained from animals, even if the animals are still alive. Vegans also avoid clothing and other items made from leather, fur and wool. The key is whether the animals were exploited to obtain the materials to make the product.

Product testing

For a product to be vegan, it must also not have been tested on animals. In the case of products such as shampoo, this means that neither rabbits nor other animals were exposed to the product for the purpose of testing it, for example to check for a skin reaction or eye irritation from exposure to the shampoo. However, this can be confusing. Legally, a product can be labelled as vegan if it simply contains no animal ingredients. However, many vegans only consider a product to be truly vegan if it was not tested on animals. A perhaps more accurate term for a product that was not tested on animals, other than vegan, would be animal cruelty-free.

Is Botox vegan?

Botox is the most popular of the cosmetic injectables and a recognized name. There is still a lot of confusion among consumers about what this wrinkle-fighting product is made of. The main ingredient in Botox is botulinum toxin, produced by the <em>Clostridium botulinum</em> bacterium. Since it is bacteria that produce this neurotoxin, and not animals, this would seem to indicate that this injectable is suitable for vegans. However, that is not the only ingredient in Botox. A secondary ingredient in Botox, along with sodium chloride, is human albumin. Yes, a protein from human blood. An alternative source of albumin could be eggs, but since they are animal products, they are not vegan either. Although the main ingredient in Botox comes from bacteria, because another ingredient is of human origin, Botox is not vegan.

Not only is Botox made with a non-vegan ingredient, but the injectable was tested on animals. To determine the lethal dose (LD50) of each batch, Allergan injects the solution into mice and quality control technicians count how many dies. Unfortunately, because toxic amounts of botulinum toxin paralyse vital organs such as the lungs, the mice experience a slow and painful death. There is at least one piece of promising news. Allergan worked to reduce its animal testing by 95% and switch instead to a cell culture trial. While this did not completely eliminate their animal testing, it is a major improvement.

Unfortunately, if their vegan patients ask if Botox is vegan, their answer is no.

Are the other botulinum toxins vegan?

Botox’s main rivals, Xeomin/Bocouture and Dysport/AZZALURE® also contain human albumin, which means they are not suitable for vegans. Both manufacturers also use animal testing, although Merz is changing test types to achieve a 95% reduction in animal testing for Xeomin and Bocouture, and Ipsen has also pledged to stop animal testing on its Dysport and AZZALURE® products.

A South Korean company, Medytox, produces a botulinum toxin that does not contain human albumin. Neuronox contains a vegetable protein instead, which provides vegan-friendly ingredients and presumably makes the product safer for human use. There is a catch: this vegan alternative to Botox is not available in the United States, and due to a licensing agreement with Allergan it probably won’t be available anytime soon.

Unfortunately, in the United States, if your vegan patients ask if botulinum toxin is vegan, your answer will probably be no.

Is Juvéderm vegan?

Juvéderm products, including its lip fillers, are made with hyaluronic acid. This natural wrinkle-filling substance is found in animal tissues. Many orthopaedic injectables are made with hyaluronic acid found in crow’s feet, but most dermal fillers, including Juvéderm, derive it from bacterial fermentation. Because Juvéderm fillers are produced using bacterial fermentation, and not animals, their ingredients are vegan.

However, most medical products, including dermal fillers, are legally required to be tested. Juvéderm has been tested on animals, but as with Botox, Allergan is committed to greatly reducing its animal testing.

If your patients ask you if Juvéderm lip fillers and other dermal fillers are vegan, you can tell them that the ingredients are vegan. However, as with any medical product, fillers are not completely free of cruelty to animals.

Is Restylane vegan?

As with Juvéderm and Restylane, Filorga fillers are made from hyaluronic acid produced by bacterial fermentation. Since it does not involve animals, this makes its hyaluronic acid suitable for vegans. According to Filorga, they do not conduct animal testing for their cosmetic products, although it is unclear whether this also applies to their cosmetic injectables. When your patients ask if Filorga fillers are vegan, unfortunately the answer is unclear.

Are other lip fillers and dermal fillers vegan?

Most lip fillers and other dermal fillers are made with hyaluronic acid whose origin is bacterial fermentation. While this means that most fillers are made with vegan-friendly ingredients, it is best to check each brand to make sure they are made from non-animal sourced hyaluronic acid. That said, most medical products in the United States have undergone some form of animal testing. While most fillers may claim to have vegan ingredients, most are not animal cruelty-free. When your patients ask you if your lip filler or other dermal filler is vegan, you can usually assure them that they use vegan ingredients, but they may not be animal cruelty-free.

Can vegans have cosmetic injections?

The two main types of cosmetic injections are botulinum toxin injections and dermal filler injections. If your vegan patients have dynamic wrinkles, unfortunately they are out of luck. There is no botulinum toxin currently available in the United States made with vegan ingredients, plus they have been tested on animals, although manufacturers are working to reduce the latter. If your vegan patients have volume loss in lips or other areas of the face, it is likely that dermal fillers can be injected. Most hyaluronic acid fillers are produced by bacterial fermentation, which transforms them into non-animal products. However, most have been tested on animals. Different types of vegans have different opinions as to what constitutes an animal product. Some may have no problem with non-animal products, even when they have been tested on animals to some extent, but some may choose to avoid these products because of animal testing. Provide what information you can to your vegan patients and allow them to determine what they are comfortable with. Some may even opt for filler injections, some may not, but the choice is theirs.

As more people choose to go vegan, and others even learn more about animal testing and other ethical concerns, you are likely to get more questions about ingredients and product testing at your clinic. When someone asks if dermal fillers are vegan, unfortunately there is no easy answer.

To purchase non-animal hyaluronic acid fillers, such as Juvederm Volite, visit NuDermaSupply.com today.

*Disclaimer: The content of this article is not to be construed as medical advice, but for informational purposes only. NuDermaSupply staff does not review any of these articles for medical validity. The opinions expressed in this article are not endorsed by MedicaDepot. Please always consult your physician for professional medical advice.

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