Sculptra® is a synthetic, FDA-approved product delivered via injection to restore facial volume lost as part of the aging process. It is of greatest benefit in the temples, the outside portion of the cheeks (which become hollow with aging), or for younger individuals with very low body fat composition. Sculptra® compliments other hyaluronic acid products such as Restylane®, Restylane® Lyft, and Juvederm® products.
How Sculptra® Works
Sculptra® is made of poly-l-lactic acid, the same material that has been used for decades in certain surgical sutures, and is administered in the office. As opposed to the hyaluronic acid products that exert an immediate effect, Sculptra® restores soft tissue volume by stimulating collagen production in the area it is injected. This is a gradual process and the maximum improvement following Sculptra® injections may not be appreciated for one to two months or longer. Several treatment sessions may be necessary to achieve the desired level of volume correction.
Sculptra® is often administered simultaneously (but in different facial regions) with hyaluronic acid fillers and botulinum toxins as these products all compliment one another. The duration of effect of Sculptra® injections may be up to two years.
Preparing for a Treatment
- Discontinuing Blood Thinners or Aspirin: There are no special preparations required prior to Sculptra® injections. However, those individuals who take aspirin or blood thinners may wish to obtain permission from the physicians prescribing those products to discontinue use 10-14 days prior to treatment so as to reduce the risk of bruising and swelling. Blood thinners that have been prescribed should not be discontinued without a physician’s permission.
- Topical or Local Anesthesia: To increase the comfort of Sculptra® injections, an anesthetic solution is added to the Sculptra®. Therefore, the treated areas may feel numb for up to several hours after a Sculptra® treatment. Most patients choose to use topical anesthetic cream or local anesthetic injection prior to Sculptra® injections. In addition, a relatively small number of patients prefer to take oral medications for anxiety relief prior to Sculptra® treatment. Our staff will be happy to assist you with this option.
Sculptra® is a unique filler which is completely unlike the hyaluronic acid (HA) products (Restylane, Restylane Lyft, Juvederm, Voluma, and Belotero), Radiesse, and Bellafill. As opposed to being composed of a naturally occurring gel or particles which exert immediate effects upon injection, Sculptra is a synthetic product which, in a slightly different form, is used to make surgical sutures. Sculptra exerts its filling effect by “turning on” our bodies’ natural collagen production process. Sculptra is best used for filling in large depressed or “hollow” areas in the cheeks and temples, areas in which HA fillers are not particularly efficient or effective. Sculptra is not useful for correcting fine lines and wrinkles and should not be used under the eyes or in the lips. Sculptra thus complements the use of HA products.
Sculptra is provided as a powder which is mixed in a special solution and delivered via injection. The powder itself does not occupy a large volume but exerts its effect by stimulating our body to increase collagen production in the region where the injections were administered. To allow the Sculptra powder to be injected, a mixture of sterile water and lidocaine (numbing medication as might be injected by the dentist) is used to create a suspension. The suspension is injected, resulting in an immediate filling effect due in large part due to the volume of the fluid. On account of the anesthetic agent added to the Sculptra, your face may feel quite numb for several hours after an injection session. It is best not to undergo Sculptra injections immediately before pressing business or social engagements. As the fluid used to create the Sculptra suspension is absorbed over a period of several days, the injection effect may seem to be to be “lost” shortly after the product is injected. Patients are encouraged to massage the areas injected with Sculptra several times per day and to take Vitamin C, an important ingredient in the manufacture of new collagen. The beneficial effects of the collagen stimulation process soon become apparent and may continue for up to 2 months. Therefore, the results of a single Sculptra injection session cannot be judged immediately, but rather are assessed after 1-2 months. A series of injections may be required to obtain best outcomes depending on the area to be treated and the amount of correction required. Sculptra is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of facial wasting (severely sunken cheeks) associated with certain medical conditions and for the cosmetic treatment of facial lines and volume loss. After completion of an initial injection series, Sculptra has been demonstrated to be effective for up to 2 years. Sculptra is an excellent treatment for correction of larger soft tissue volume deficits as in the outside part of the cheeks and temples while Restylane, Restylane Lyft (formerly Perlane), Juvederm, and Belotero are preferred treatments to correct volume loss in the central portion of the face.