Sculptra is an injectable dermal filler that has been around since 1999. It was first approved by the FDA in 2004 to treat lipoatrophy in people living with HIV. Lipoatrophy causes facial fat loss that results in sunken cheeks and deep folds and indentations on the face.
- In 2014, the FDA approved Sculptra Aesthetic for treating wrinkles and folds on the face to give a more youthful appearance. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Sculptra in 2004 for restoration following lipoatrophy for people with HIV.
- In 2009, the FDA approved it under the brand name Sculptra Aesthetic for the treatment of deep facial wrinkles and folds for people with healthy immune systems.
- It may cause swelling, redness, pain, and bruising at the injection site. Lumps under the skin and discoloration have also been reported.
The main ingredient in Sculptra is poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA). It’s classified as a collagen stimulator that provides long-lasting, natural-looking results that can last up to two years. Sculptra is safe and effective but isn’t recommended for people with allergies to any of its ingredients or for those with medical conditions that cause irregular scarring.
How does Sculptra work?
Sculptra is injected into the skin to diminish facial wrinkles. It contains PLLA, which acts as a collagen stimulator, helping to gradually restore fullness to facial wrinkles and folds. This results in a softer and more youthful appearance.
You may notice immediate results, but it can take a few months to see the full results of your treatment.
Your Sculptra specialist will work with you to determine the number of treatment sessions needed to achieve the best result. The average regimen consists of three injections spread out over three or four months.
Procedure for Sculptra
During your initial consultation with a trained physician, you’ll be asked to provide your complete medical history, including any medical conditions and allergies.
On the day of your first Sculptra treatment, your doctor will map the injection sites on your skin and cleanse the area. A topical anesthetic may be applied to help with any discomfort. Your doctor will then inject your skin using multiple small injections.
You should be able to return to your normal activities immediately after treatment. Your doctor will advise you of any special instructions.
How Long Does Sculptra Last?
If you choose Sculptra for your skin tightening needs, you can see results lasting for more than 24 months. In clinical studies, as many as 80% of patients were still satisfied with their skin’s appearance 25 months after treatment. You will notice the elasticity of your skin gradually improve as it reaches a more youthful texture in a natural timeframe. If your skin is healthy and you have a great skincare routine, the results can last even longer.
Your skin’s collagen production will make a noticeable impact on the tightness of your skin six to 12 weeks after your first session. The improvements in your skin will continue for four to six months, at which point your results should reach their peak. Because the results take time, there is no sudden, unnatural appearance like that associated with other treatments. The treatment also will not make your face appear stiff or reduce your ability to make natural facial expressions.
How Many Sessions Will I Need?
A single treatment session takes approximately 20 to 30 minutes to complete. If you need more than one session, your next session will be approximately four weeks after your previous session. This helps your skin recover and get the most benefits out of each session.
Some areas of the body may take slightly longer, depending on the size. The number of sessions you need may vary based on the condition of the skin being addressed, but most patients will only need three to four sessions to achieve their desired outcome. We can give you a good estimate of how many treatment sessions you can expect during our consultation session.
What Can It Treat?
The treatment can be used to improve your facial complexion and skin conditions almost everywhere on the body. You can enjoy tighter skin and anti-aging benefits on your face and neck. If the skin on your body that has lost its elasticity due to age and lifestyle, it can also be renewed with the injectable treatment.
Areas of the skin that become hollow or sunken after an illness can also be made smooth with increased volume from the treatment. We can address a variety of issues on the face, neck, chest, abdomen, legs, buttocks, and upper arms. This treatment can effectively:
- Fill nasolabial folds
- Eliminate moderate and fine lines
- Smooth wrinkles
- Eliminate cellulite
- Increase jawline definition
- Fill sunken cheeks and temples
- Plump the lips
- Reduce brow or frown lines
- Reduce marionette lines
- Relieve skin laxity
- Remove lines from the eyes and mouth
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 sensation 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.
Other post-marketing side effects have been spontaneously reported after Sculptra use. If you have a concern, ask your healthcare provider for more information about post-marketing side effects.
What to Expect During and After the Treatment Visit?
You and your physician will determine if local anesthesia is required prior to injection. Tell your healthcare provider about all medications you take, including prescription, over-the-counter, herbal, and dietary supplements.
Remove all makeup prior to injections. The area to be injected will be cleaned with an antiseptic. Multiple injections using a fine needle will be required. After injection the area will be massaged to evenly distribute the product. Apply an ice pack to reduce swelling unless otherwise directed.
Some redness and swelling after injections are to be expected. Your healthcare provider will give you specific directions on how to minimize this effect. Report any unusual signs or symptoms to your doctor immediately.
Most patients are able to get back to their normal daily activities immediately after treatment. Make-up may be applied within a few hours after treatment if no bleeding or open wounds are present.
How much does Sculptra cost?
The cost of Sculptra depends on several factors, including:
- amount of enhancing or correction necessary to achieve the desired result
- number of treatment visits required
- geographic location
- number of vials of Sculptra used
- discounts or special offers
The average cost of Sculptra per vial was $773 in 2016, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. The Sculptra website lists the average total treatment cost as ranging from $1,500 to $3,500, depending on those factors and other factors.
Sculptra Aesthetic and other dermal fillers aren’t covered by health insurance. However, in 2010, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services made the decision to cover the cost of Sculptra for people living with HIV who have facial lipodystrophy syndrome (of which lipoatrophy is one type) and also experience depression. Most plastic surgeons offer financing plans, and many also offer coupons or rebates from the makers of Sculptra. SEE: How Long Does Juvederm Products Last?