How to work out the cost of botox

cost-of-botoxAt first glance the cost of botox appears quite easy to work out – there are so many places to find botox injections nowadays. Surely you just take a look around and go for the cheapest all in quoted price?

It may seem like the range of options has brought the cost of botox injections tumbling down – you can go to a nurse, a walk-in clinic, a botox party – the choice is yours.

Unfortunately it isn’t that simple to know whether you are getting value for the price you pay.

Taking time to understand how botox prices are worked out may save you a lot of dollars and disappointment in the end.

The price of botox per unit

If you are aiming to find botox injections at a fair price – you need to focus on the unit cost of botox.

The first thing you need to know is that Allergan – the makers of botox – supply the toxin in powdered form in containers of 100 and 50 units per package to anyone with a DEA certificate. The cost price for every buyer is the same and is currently (August 2011) just under $6 a unit. So – whoever you choose to do your botox injections will have paid exactly the same unit price for botox.

Vacuum packed botox powder is delivered within 24 hours of the order being placed and should be stored according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Botox solution is made up of the powder plus a recommended amount of saline and this is called reconstituted botox. Botox should be reconstituted only as needed and used within 4 hours otherwise it starts to degrade.

Users of botox have some leeway in the amount of saline they add to the botox powder and different surgeons do this in different ways according to what they consider best practice. You cannot judge the cost of botox on a “per vial” or “per treatment” basis.

To make a true comparison between suppliers you need to know two things:

  1. What’s the botox unit price?
  2. How many units will I get?

What is the average cost of botox?

First off – what unit price for botox are you likely to pay?

The $6 per unit your doctor pays to Allergan is the baseline cost to him or her of supplying the drug to you as part of your treatment.

The price you pay for a unit of botox will depend on the additional costs the doctor incurs to run their practice and to make a profit: overheads, heating, lighting, staff, advertising, rent and so on.

Across the US the price per unit of botox that you should expect to pay in 2011 will range from $10-20. The range in price is largely driven by the location but highly qualified surgeons running upmarket and well equipped practices will generally charge more. A Manhattan practice is going to have much higher costs than a doctor in New Jersey or Pennsylvannia.

Getting botox injections from a plastic surgeon, facial plastic surgeon, oculoplastic surgeon, or dermatologist will cost more than other doctors. Your are paying for their training and expertise in this area – surely a wise investment.

Don’t buy your treatment based on cost per unit – you wouldn’t go to the hairdresser based on which one charged the least – you would find the best.

Research your local market and visit at least three qualified aesthetically trained plastic surgeons with significant experience in performing botox injections. Price should come into your decision as the last thing you take into account.

How many botox units per area

Once you know how much the doctor is charging per unit of botox you need find out how many units are recommended in totoal which will depend on the areas you want treated.

You might be forgiven for assuming that there is some kind of rule for the number of botox units to be used for frown lines or crows feet – but you would be wrong.

All plastic surgeons with experience in botox tell you the same thing – every face is different and there are too many variables to offer a standard treatment. Here are just a few things that doctors have to take into account:

    • Your age – younger faces have less deep wrinkles and often need less units
    • Your gender – men’s muscles are thicker and need more units per area treated
    • The size and strength of your muscles – strong muscles may not respond so well and may need more units. Some muscles in the face are bigger and need more units.
    • The effect you want – preferences vary from a more rested look to ten years younger!

Working out the cost of treatment

The main areas of treatment tend to be: frown lines, crows feet, forehead and lines around the mouth which is less common.

Most people end up with three areas treated at a time which may use up around 50-60 units. If your physician was charging $10 per unit and you had 60 units then your maximum total charge should be $600. However, you need to get a specific quote after your doctor has seen and examined you.

Ask about discounts. Many doctors will offer a discount where more than one area is treated. There is no set amount but a total of $600 could end up at $575 after discount. Plastic surgeons will also give you discount going forward if you have more than one treatment with them so future treatments will be less.

Other questions to ask before committing to treatment are: whether anaesthetics are offered and included in the price and whether the doctor will include a top up injection should one be needed. Many plastic surgeons tend to be cautious about the first injections with a patient and you may find you need a top up 3-4 weeks in.

You get what you pay for

If you see “bargain botox” or “cheap botox” ads – beware. It is quite likely that this could be imported, overly diluted or not supplied by Allergan – not real botox at all. Getting your botox done by a medically qualified professional eliminates this risk.

You may wonder just how difficult it can be to perform botox injections and why you shouldn’t get a nurse or doctor’s PA to do it. Or maybe you are inclined to go to a local walk-in clinic, gym or botox party and cut out all the fuss and bother.

The truth is whatever result you get from any of these sources is much less likely to be what you want and you’ll be stuck with it for 4 months at least. Don’t waste money on a bad result from a low cost botox option. If you don’t like the result then you’ve wasted your money however little you paid.

You need to find a medical professional whose whole focus and training is aesthetics and that can only be a board certified facial plastic surgeon or dermatologist.

Paying the right price for botox can make the difference between a younger, fresher looking face with no obvious signs of any anti aging treatment at all and the frozen or lopsided look that you dread.

About Eileen

I am the publisher of Simply Anti Aging and a web author researching and writing on all aspects of anti aging. I'd love you to connect with me on


  1. littleleers says:

    I never thought I would ever consider botox. I reconsidered when I developed deep lines in my forehead and pinched glabellar lines (between the brows, also called “11’s”. These lines gave me a continuous angry look. The botox relaxed my forehead and really opened up my eyes as the lids of my eyes seemed to also get a bit of a lift. My treatments last anywhere from four to six months. It is really important to find someone who is skilled. I love the nurse practitioner at my Cosmetic Surgeon’s office. She is specially trained and does a very skillful job with Botox. In fact, the Cosmetic doc did my treatment once and while it was still good, it was not as good as the NP’s. The final result from botox really is dependent on skill level. The placement and number of injections is important. Too much botox and you will look frozen or done improperly, you will end up with Mr. Spock eyebrows for several months!

    • Eileen Gravelle says:

      Littleleers – Thanks for giving your experience of botox. Sounds like you have a good practioner that you trust – I agree that is what matters – in the end whether the cost of botox is worth it depends on the skill and knowledge of whoever does your injections.

  2. I am thinking that Botox as filler could be efficiently substituted with HA restylane filler. Would you be able to at least say that Botox is as safe as the HA filler? OR are the two entirely different?

    • Eileen Gravelle says:

      Shirley – thanks for the question – obviously I am not medically qualified but from my research it seems to me that botox has a good safety record. What I try to do in the article is present the information factually with references and links so that people can make their own minds up. At least then if you do get botox – you make an informed choice. Restylane filler is used often in conjunction with botox injections but it has a different function as I understand it and comes with a different spec and safety statistics. I haven’t done a similar article on HA dermal fillers like restylane but I would use similar sources if I wanted to take a view on how safe it is. Hope that answers your question.

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