Sculptra is dermal filler that is so different from other fillers that it deserves its own page. If you haven’t read the page about dermal fillers yet, you should do that now to get some basic information about fillers.
The substance that is injected is called L-polylactic acid. Lactic acid is a naturally occurring substance in the human body. The fatigue that is felt in a muscle that is working hard is the result of lactic acid build-up.
Long chains of lactic acid molecules are produced by the manufacturer to make Sculptra. L-polylactic acid has been used for decades to make absorbable sutures. Instead of making threads, Sculptra is made as a powder that is mixed before treatment.
In order to explain this, we’re going to discuss the concept of new collagen production (neocollagenesis) as it relates to fillers.
The most common fillers in use today are composed of hyaluronic acid (Juvederm, Restylane, Teosyal). These fillers have weak collagen stimulating properties. They are “pure fillers”, meaning that when 1 ml of product is injected you get about 1 ml of filling effect and minimal collagen production.
In contrast, Sculptra has no volume of its own. It is a very smalll amount of powder that is mixed with water. Its filling effect is derived from new collagen production only. The only immediate filling that is evident is from the water used to inject it, and this disappears in one day. This volume is steadily replaced by new collagen production that takes place over a few months.
The biggest advantage of Sculptra is duration of effect. It lasts for 3 to 4 years. Hyaluronic acid fillers average about 9 to 12 months. Radiesse averages 18 months.
Sculptra is most beneficial in people who would benefit from large volumes of filler. A typical series of Sculptra treatments will provide the equivalent of 6-8 ml of filling effect. The cost of this volume of other fillers would be very high and would give you perhaps 18 months of duration. The cost of the Sculptra series would be 10 to 15% higher, but it will provide 3 to 4 years of filling effect.
The most common areas treated are:
Sculptra cannot be used in lips. It is not good at filling lines. For these areas, the best product is hyaluronic acid.
Most candidates for Sculptra are in their 40s and 50s. But there are younger and older people who would certainly benefit.
Advanced age, smoking, and excessive sun exposure can reduce the efficacy of treatment. This is because Sculptra requires a biological response (new collagen production). This response is weaker in smokers, people with chronic disease states, and people of advanced age.
Injections are given using a small needle. A very small amount of Sculptra is injected at each site (0.05 to 0.2ml). A total of 6 to 12ml of Sculptra is injected at each session. This means you will get 40 to 60 injections per session.
Generally, three monthly sessions are needed. Most commonly, two vials are injected at the first two sessions and one vial at the third session.
It involves a lot of needle pokes, so there is definitely some discomfort. Pain tolerance varies considerably from person to person. The degree of discomfort also varies from area to area. People tolerate the procedure quite well, but it is not painless.
Topical anesthetic creams should be applied one hour prior to treatment. Sculptra is mixed using local anesthetic. As treatment progresses, it gets more comfortable as the anesthetic takes effect.
Most procedures take about thirty minutes.
The beneficial effects of Sculptra can be seen starting at about six weeks and peaking at four to six months.
For most patients, about 50% of the effect is still present at 3 to 4 years, one of the longest durations of the temporary fillers. Because of this long duration, Sculptra is known as a semi-permanent filler.
Immediately following treatment you will see significant improvement. Unfortunately, this is only the water that was used to inject the product. This water is gone in about one day, and you will look the same as you did before treatment. But take heart! The filling effect will return, and you will eventually look the way you did immediately after the treatment.
There are very few side effects to dermal fillers.
Bruising is very common with Sculptra because of the high number of injections.
Mild swelling and redness may occur. It usually resolves in a day or two.
Small lumps about the size of peppercorns can develop. They can almost always be prevented by vigorous massage of the injection sites immediately following treatment.
We require 48 hours notice for cancellation of your consultation or treatment, in order to fill the appointment time.
Sculptra must be mixed about one week in advance and used within four weeks. If we have mixed Sculptra for you and we are unable to use it, there is a minimum $400 charge per vial. Most commonly, we are mixing two vials per session.
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