Sculptra® is an injectable product that corrects the signs of facial fat loss (lipoatrophy) by restoring lost volume in the skin. Lipoatrophy can result in sunken cheeks, indentations and hollow eyes. Injected into the deep dermis layer of the skin, Sculptra® provides a gradual and significant increase in skin thickness, improving the appearance of folds and sunken areas. Note that Sculptra® does not treat lipoatrophy, but it does compensate for its effects.
Sculptra’s main component is an alpha hydroxy acid called poly-L-lactic acid, or PLLA. It is safe, synthetic (artificially created), biocompatible (can be used harmlessly in the body), biodegradable (able to be broken down in the body) and long-lasting. PLLA has been used for more than 20 years in many surgical products, including dissolvable sutures and soft tissue implants.
Candidates for Sculptra®
Sculptra is FDA-approved for the treatment of aging, wrinkled facial skin, and is considered safe and effective for most patients seeking to achieve a more youthful, natural-looking appearance with subtle, yet noticeable results. Sculptra should not be used in patients who have active skin infections or inflammation (swelling) in the area to be treated, or who are allergic to any of its ingredients.
At your Sculptra® treatment session, you will be asked to remove any makeup, and the area of skin to be treated will be swabbed clean. You and your doctor will discuss whether to use a local or topical anesthetic to minimize any discomfort. Then, your doctor will administer Sculptra® in a series of injections with a very fine needle. Afterwards, you will be given an ice pack to reduce swelling. It is important to massage the treated area to ensure that the material is evenly distributed beneath the skin.
Results of Sculptra®
Sculptra’s effects are not immediate. Improvement in skin volume occurs gradually.
More than one treatment may be necessary to achieve the best results. Patients with more severe lipoatrophy generally need additional injections. In your follow-up appointment a few weeks after your first Sculptra® session, your doctor will determine whether you need a touch-up treatment.
The results of Sculptra® vary from patient to patient. In a clinical study, the effects were shown to last for up to two years after the first treatment session in most patients.
Recovery from Sculptra®
There is little to no downtime after a Sculptra® treatment. Most patients return to their normal activities immediately.
Risks Associated with Sculptra®
Some patients experience side effects from Sculptra® injections. These may include localized bleeding, tenderness, discomfort, redness, bruising and swelling. Side effects usually fade within a few days or even a few hours, although they can last longer. Massage and ice pack application to the treatment area reduce swelling. Strong sun and UV exposure should be avoided until swelling and redness have subsided.
Some patients develop small bumps under the skin in the treatment area. These may appear in the first six to twelve months after the first injection. They may be visibly red, or, more often, they may only be felt by pressing on the area.