The introduction of Sculptra® has revolutionized the treatment of aging faces and provided dermatologists with an option never before available. Sculptra® is not only a unique “filler”, it is a volumizer that has important properties of stimulating collagen growth and production. When administered by a properly trained physician who gives careful attention to injection technique, Sculptra® is a truly remarkable product that has the ability to treat concerns that were previously difficult to address.
What is Sculptra®?
Sculptra® is a unique rejuvenator that does not have any direct competition in what it does. In simple terms, Sculptra® is composed of small dissolvable particles that stimulate new collagen production.
In more technical terms, Sculptra® is a non-toxic, immunologically inactive, synthetic biocompatible (a material that does not harm the body) and biodegradable (able to be broken down by the body) lactic acid polymer. Poly-L-lactic acid has been widely used for many years in dissolvable stitches, soft tissue implants, and other types of implants. The safety of this material has been well established and, in its current form, it has been used for many years with a good safety record. It is important to note that Sculptra needs to be used carefully and with a full understanding of human anatomy as well as the aging process.
How does Sculptra® work?
Sculptra® is injected below the surface of the skin in the area of fat and volume loss such as the upper cheeks, temples, chin as well as areas around the nose. It stimulates production of natural collagen and provides a gradual increase in skin thickness. Visible results appear within the first few treatment sessions. Because Sculptra® is non-toxic and non-immunogenic, no skin test is required prior to the initiation of therapy.
What happens during the treatment session?
It is important to use Sculptra® in a safe and professional manner. Make-up will need to be removed and the area where the injections will be given should be cleaned with an antiseptic solution. In some cases topical and/or local anesthetic will be used to help with the discomfort, although most patients can tolerate the injections very well. Sculptra® is injected in small amounts underneath the skin using a very fine needle. The treatment session will be concluded with thorough massage of the treated area to distribute the product evenly.
What are the possible side effects of treatment with Sculptra®?
The most common side effects with the use of Sculptra include injection-related side effects at the site of the injection such as bleeding, tenderness or pain, redness, bruising, or swelling. These side effects generally last, on average, 3 to 17 days.
In very rare situations, the product can cause occlusion of some of the blood vessels in the treated area. This is an emergency and your doctor must be notified as there are steps that can be taken to minimize the effects of such occlusions.
One possible delayed side effect with Sculptra® can be small bumps under the skin in the treated area. These small bumps may not be visible, and one may notice them only when pressing on the treated skin. These bumps tend to appear within the first 6 to 12 months after the first treatment. In most cases, these bumps go away on their own but sometimes they can persist. Visible bumps, sometimes with redness or color change to the treated area, have also been reported. As with all procedures that involve an injection through the skin, there is a risk of infection.
It is very important that any side effects be reported to your treating doctor as soon as they become evident.
Overall, Sculptra® is an excellent treatment option that not only results in new collagen build-up but also positively impacts the quality of the skin. Because it is a specialized product, only trained physicians should be administering it.