What is Sculptra?
As the skin ages, the natural loss of collagen leads to thinner and structurally weakened skin, resulting in wrinkles and folds. Sculptra is an injectable bio-stimulator made of poly-L-lactic (PLLA) that works to treat the loss of collagen by activating the body’s natural ability to produce collagen.
Unlike hyaluronic acid (HA) fillers which work quickly to temporarily replace missing facial volume, the effect of Sculptra happens gradually to stimulate the body’s natural production of collagen, leading to the restoration and improvement of the skin’s structure to achieve smooth, youthful skin.
This subtle and gradual skin improvement appeals to patients looking for a longer-lasting and natural-looking result.
Sculptra is intended for use in people with healthy immune systems. A typical treatment consists of three injection sessions that are spaced about 8 weeks apart.
What are the Advantages of Sculptra?
Comprehensive rejuvenation. By spurring collagen production, Sculptra works to repair the underlying scaffolding of the face, which offers a host of cosmetic benefits. By restoring some of those youthful contours and thickening skin that has begun to thin, this injectable can broadly improve the face. In fact, this injectable is sometimes referred to as a liquid facelift because of the non-invasive lifting and revitalizing it offers.
Natural results. Most patients receive a series of three Sculptra Injections over a period of several months. The injections are performed in different directions to create a mesh-like pattern under the skin. This means that once in place, it offers a thorough coverage and can serve as a foundation upon which collagen can develop. Collagen development can take some time, so it may be several months before the improvements in the face fully take hold. But the gradual onset of results gives patients results that look more natural and less over-filled. You’ll never look like you suddenly went and “had work done.”
Long-lasting improvement. Because Sculptra essentially rebuilds the underlying infrastructure of the face by generating collagen, it offers results that last much longer than most other injectables. Patients usually enjoy their results for two years or more. Even if you decide not to repeat the treatment, you’ll still come out ahead in the ageing process because of the extra collagen created by that one fluid facelift.
A low-maintenance option. Once you’ve completed the initial series of injections, you’ll be good to go for two years. Follow-up maintenance injections are usually scheduled yearly.
Allergies are not a concern. Many of the other fillers on the market are composed of hyaluronic acid, which retains moisture and helps the skin stay hydrated. Sculptra contains Poly-L-Lactic Acid, a substance that is used in dissolvable sutures.
This product poses no risk of an allergic reaction and does not require allergy testing, because Poly-L-Lactic Acid is synthetic. Once it’s done the job of jump-starting collagen development, the Poly-L-Lactic Acid naturally fades from the body usually within 6 months.
Expanded use. Sculptra was initially approved by the US FDA in 2004 to increase collagen production in cases of associated lipoatrophy. In Dec 2021 Galderma announced that Sculptra became the first and only FDA-approved PLLA facial injectable treatment that helps stimulate the skin’s own collagen production, to smooth facial wrinkles, such as smile lines.
Areas treated with Sculptra
Sculptra is used for treating shallow to deep facial folds and wrinkles. The most popular areas for treatment are:
- Nasolabial folds (the “smile lines” extending from the nose to the corners of the mouth)
- Marionette lines (extend vertically down the chin from the corners of the mouth)
- Hollows or skin depressions, such as sunken cheeks
- Chin wrinkles
- Temple hollows
A newer concept regarding the use has emerged where the focus areas to be treated are the lateral sides of the face including the temple and preauricular areas which are all located behind the line of ligaments.
This concept is like a ‘frame concept’ to provide lifting and tightening of the face whereas any additional projection or augmentation more medial and anterior can be achieved through dermal HA fillers.
Are you a good candidate for Sculptra?
Sculptra is only for use in people who are 18 years of age and up. Since Sculptra stimulates the immune system to create collagen, you must have a healthy immune system to be a candidate for injections. The safety of Sculptra has not been established for women who are pregnant, lactating, or breastfeeding.
People who are susceptible to keloid formation or hypertrophic scarring should not be treated with Sculptra. Sculptra should not be used by those who are allergic to any ingredient of Sculptra, including poly-L-lactic acid, carboxymethylcellulose, and nonpyrogenic mannitol.
Sculptra Side Effects
The most common side effects with Sculptra include injection site reactions, such as bruising (21%), pain (13%), swelling (10%), and redness (2%). Itching and heat sensations have also been reported. Injection site reactions tend to last 3 to 17 days, on average. Treatment, if needed for injection reactions, may include antihistamines or anti-inflammatories. Small lumps (granulomas) under the skin, which may or may not be visible, may occur within the first 6 to 12 months after treatment. The bumps may or may not be permanent. Visible bumps may be red in the treated area. Some lumps have had to be treated with corticosteroid injections or surgery. The risk of infection and serious swelling is a possibility, as well.