Sculptra: Longest Lasting Dermal Filler?
by Edie Pastis
The world of facial fillers has been growing at an unstoppable pace lately. For patients who want non-surgical solutions to facial wrinkles and facial lipoatrophy (loss of facial fat), with the promise of no recovery time and minimal side effects, facial filler injections are today's top choice! And which popular facial filler has been called the "longest lasting facial filler" by numerous physicians and aesthetic patients? Sculptra® Aesthetic.
To further acquaint yourself with Sculptra injections, and to learn how Sculptra works, what Sculptra treats, and why Sculptra results are thought to last the longest, keep reading!
What is Sculptra?
Sculptra Aesthetic is a facial filler formula that is injected into facial skin for anti-aging and skin rejuvenation purposes. The active ingredient in Sculptra is poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA), a biodegradable, synthetic polymer that has an approximate 20-year track record of safety and success within the surgical industry. The PLLA used in Sculptra injections is actually a powdered form of the same material that's used in dissolvable sutures.
Poly-L-lactic acid gained FDA approval in 2004 for treating facial lipoatrophy in HIV patients and others. In 2009, Sculptra was FDA approved for the aesthetic removal of facial wrinkles.
Unlike other facial filler types, Sculptra is actually a "biostimulator". This means Sculptra actually stimulates and helps rebuild skin tissues that have started to degrade, as opposed to just temporarily plumping them up with an absorbable filler substance.
How Do Sculptra Injections Work?
When Sculptra is injected into facial skin, the poly-L-lactic acid, or "bio-active filler," triggers an immune response and leads to the gradual absorption of PLLA particles by white blood cells. This process causes fibrosis and collagen buildup where Sculptra is present underneath skin. Because the formation of this new collagen happens gradually, patients may not notice visible Sculptra results for 4-6 weeks or longer.
However, this gradual building of collagen in specific facial areas is precisely what makes Sculptra injections last longer than other fillers. Many injectables simply create immediate, temporary volume that plumps up facial skin and fills in wrinkles. Sculptra is considered a "tissue volumizer" that can fortify facial areas where thinning has occurred.
What Facial Areas Does Sculptra Treat?
Sculptra injections are very effective at treating facial thinning in the cheeks, temples, around the mouth and along the jawline. Sculptra injections are also recommended for filling in pronounced nasolabial folds, marionette lines, forehead wrinkles, hollow areas around the eyes, and other fine lines.
However, Sculptra patients should not use Sculptra for lip augmentation or on other body areas. Because the skin of the lips is so delicate and because Sculptra injections can form tiny nodules where the collagen builds, Sculptra lip injections can create hard lumps in lip tissue.
Length of Sculptra Results
The average length of Sculptra results can vary by patient and by treatment schedule, but generally, Sculptra patients can expect their results to last from 1-2 years! Some physicians have noted that certain patients can even maintain some of their Sculptra results for over 3 years post initial treatment!
Again, Sculptra seems to outlast the competition due to its:
- Injected, safely absorbable poly-L-lactic acid formula
- Ability to stimulate degrading skin tissues and create fibroids
- Gradual, continued buildup of new collagen around fibroids and weak tissues
The length of Sculptra results can be affected by how the patient individually responds to treatment, and on the number of treatment sessions Sculptra patients initially have. The minimum recommendation is 3 Sculptra treatment sessions, spaced 4-6 weeks apart.
To maximize Sculptra injection results, patients should take extra care with their skin post treatment. This includes avoiding UV exposure as much as possible, and keeping skin clean, well-moisturized and protected. When patients notice their Sculptra results are starting to diminish, a single touch-up Sculptra session may be all that's needed to restore the desired results.
Other Filler Injection Options
Aside from Sculptra injections, popular anti-aging filler injectables include Collagen, Restylane, Juvederm, Perlane and Radiesse. For patients who are solely looking to remove wrinkles, Botox and Dysport injections are also injection possibilities.
Restylane, Juvederm and Perlane are all hyaluronic acid fillers. Hyaluronic acid is a less permanent filler solution than Sculptra's poly-L-lactic acid, but it is more suitable for thin skin areas, such as the lips and near the eyes.
Radiesse uses calcium hydroxylapatite, a naturally occurring substance that can be found in bone tissue. Radiesse injections can reportedly last about a year, but some physicians and patients prefer Sculptra's ability to continue increasing its effects as time goes on. The full effects of Radiesse are evident more quickly, but they also tend to subside faster.
Collagen injections were the first widely used facial fillers for treating wrinkles and thinning skin. Bovine and human collagen injections provide temporary wrinkle removal relief, with results typically lasting about 3-5 months.
Are Sculptra Injections Right for Me?
For patients who are wanting to treat pronounced facial wrinkles and loss of facial fat, Sculptra is a low-risk, effective injectable solution that yields long-lasting, anti-aging results! Sculptra injections should be relatively painless, and should always be performed by an experienced, licensed Sculptra provider.
Minor Sculptra side effects may include tenderness, slight swelling, and minor bruising or redness. The cost of Sculptra tends to range higher than the cost of other common injectables, but many feel the cost is worth it for the fewer treatment sessions and longer results that are typical with Sculptra injections.
To get more information about Sculptra—today's longest-lasting, semi-permanent facial filler—and to learn what you can personally expect from Sculptra injections, it's best to consult with a professional aesthetic provider in your area!
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