By Ziad Sara, MD, FACP, RpHS
If you are interested in rejuvenating your appearance, but are not quite ready for surgery, the benefits of Sculptra® Aesthetic may offer the ideal alternative for you. Sculptra® is a facial filler that’s used to combat facial aging by helping to gradually replace lost collagen – a treatment that can offer great results when performed by an experienced injector. What is Sculptra® Aesthetic? Sculptra® is a soft tissue filler that’s FDA cleared to replenish facial volume lost due to the natural aging process. The main ingredient in Sculptra® is poly-L-lactic acid, or PLLA — a biocompatible, biodegradable synthetic material that is naturally and gradually absorbed by the body. It can be used to fill in both shallow and deep facial wrinkles, including nasolabial folds (smile lines), marionette lines (lines around the mouth), and chin wrinkles. Additionally, the treatment can restore facial volume, while also contouring the face. It can also be combined with other non-surgical treatments for a more comprehensive skin rejuvenation treatment program. How Sculptra® works A small needle is used to inject Sculptra® into the deep layer of the skin (known as the dermis, which is the second layer of your skin). The PLLA is absorbed by the tissues in the dermal layer, which stimulates the body’s production of collagen and strengthens the natural structure of the skin. Sculptra® goes to work beneath the skin’s surface, gradually replacing lost collagen over time. This helps to fill in deep folds and wrinkles, resulting in smoother, plumper skin. After the injection is complete the physician will massage the treated area, to ensure that the drug is evenly distributed. Most patients require 2-3 treatments to achieve optimal results, and sessions are spaced over a period of several months. However, your physician will customize a treatment plan for you, based on your unique concerns. When will you see results? The results achieved with Sculptra® take place gradually over 4-6 months, and the effects last for approximately 2 years. Some patients opt to have a revision done after that time, in order to further encourage collagen growth (click here to see before-and-after photos). Do Sculptra® injections hurt? Although Sculptra® is injected deeper into the skin than other injectables, the discomfort is minimal. It is sometimes used with lidocaine, a local anesthetic, which helps make the injection less painful by blocking pain signals at the nerve endings in the skin. Patients can expect mild swelling for the first 24 hours, but this is usually treated with the application of a cold pack. Excessive sunlight should be avoided until the swelling has subsided. Doctors will often recommend that patients continue to massage the treated area for up to five days after treatment. Benefits of Sculptra® It’s minimally-invasive and non-surgical. Sculptra® is a minimally invasive, non-surgical treatment — so downtime is minimal. If you have a demanding work or family schedule, you’ll be able to get back to your regular activities much faster than surgical procedures like a facelift. It enhances skin tone and texture & improves skin health. This is also a result of more collagen being produced within the structural layers of the skin. It boosts collagen growth. Collagen is a natural skin protein that is present in large quantities when you are younger, but levels decline as you age. It is responsible for keeping the skin firm and plump. As more collagen grows the dermis becomes thicker, and this enhances facial volume. It offers subtle, more natural-looking results. This occurs because of the stimulation of the skin’s natural collagen growth process, which gives the face an overall lift and makes you look younger. Since volume is added slowly, the improvement looks very natural. The results are gradual. Because the improvements brought on by Sculptra® are gradual, it will be much less likely that anyone suspects that you’ve had any treatment done. It offers long-lasting results. The results of Sculptra® can last for up to 2 years, which is a lot longer than many of the other cosmetic injectables.
Are you a good candidate for Sculptra®? If you have facial fat loss, as indicated by hollow areas on the face and deep folds and wrinkles, Sculptra® may be the ideal solution for you. For best results, it’s important to visit a physician that is trained in the application of Sculptra® and also has experience injecting it.