Sculptra is a dermal filler that was first approved by the FDA in 2004 to treat a condition called lipoatrophy. As the name implies, lipoatrophy is the loss of localized fat tissue. Sculptra restores volume and fat tissue in the injected area, giving patients a healthier, more youthful appearance. The drug was initially approved for HIV patients that suffered major lipoatrophy of facial tissue. Over the past decade, though, the dermal filler has also been used on healthy individuals looking to revitalize their appearance and restore lost facial volume. Let’s take a deeper look at this relatively new cosmetic treatment.
How Does It Work?
Sculptra works differently than both Botox and other dermal fillers currently available. Botox uses botulinum toxin to paralyze the facial muscles that contract over time and create facial wrinkles and fine lines. Dermal fillers use substances like hyaluronic acid and calcium hydroxylapatite that give facial tissue suppleness, smoothness, and volume.
Sculptra users a synthetic polymer called poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA) to do something different. Instead of injecting a protein or sugar into the face that will temporarily restore youthfulness and vigor, poly-L-lactic acid activates the body’s natural production of collagen. The PLLA microparticles contained in Sculptra penetrate deep within the layers of your skin and are eventually absorbed into your body. Once this happens, the polymer starts to stimulate the creation of collagen, a protein integral to facial tissue and skin elasticity. Sculptra’s unique mechanism of action is one of the primary reasons the drug’s effects can last up to two years.
What’s the Treatment Regimen?
Sculptra requires several injections to have a maximum impact on your body’s collagen production. For the best possible results, Dr. McCullom recommends two to three treatments spread out over several months.
Are There Side Effects?
Like most facial injections and dermal fillers, Sculptra’s side effects are minimal. Patients should be prepared for some pain and tenderness around the injection site, as well as the possibility of redness and swelling.
It’s also worth noting that Sculptra takes slightly longer than other injectables to achieve its full effect. While the results of Botox, for example, can be seen in just a few days, Sculptra may require two weeks or more to take complete effect. It’s important to bear in mind, though, that Sculptra can last up to two years—several times longer than other popular facial injections. If you want to learn more about the long lasting benefits of Sculptra, contact our office and schedule an appointment with Dr. McCullom today.