Sculptra (marketed in Europe as New-Fill) is a revolutionary form of dermal filler. While not as well-known commercially as Restylane, Botox, or other fillers, it is quickly gaining in popularity and with good reason. Unlike most fillers, the effects of Sculptra are quite long lasting and there is no risk of allergic reaction. This makes it safe to use and can help to mitigate costs if fewer repeat treatments are needed.
This particular product contains poly-L-lactic acid, a synthetic form of the natural substance lactic acid. Lactic acid helps with cellular metabolism and can promote production of collagen by the body. In the past, poly-L-lactic acid has been used in such medical applications as absorbable sutures, bone screws and plates and for administering medication.
In the late ’90’s it was discovered to be an effective form of treatment for HIV and AIDS patients who were suffering from severe loss of facial fat, or lipoatrophy. Out of that use grew the realization that it could also be used for cosmetic purposes, to treat deep wrinkles, creases, furrows, depressions and other natural signs of aging.
How is Sculptra Used and What are the Side Effects?
Sculptra is injected under the skin rather than into it, as most other fillers are. Before administering an injection, your doctor will treat the area to be addressed with a topical anesthetic cream. Lidocaine may also be added to the Sculptra syringe to further lessen discomfort. The area to be treated will then be marked and the injections will be done in an even pattern throughout that area.
After injecting, the area that was treated will be gently massaged to help evenly distribute the Sculptra and avoid the formation of bumps. The entire process takes about 30 minutes and there is almost no necessary “down time” for recovery. You can literally have a treatment during your lunch hour and go right back to work.
There may be some slight redness or swelling at the injection site, but this generally clears away within a few hours. Other than that, there no major side effects of this particular treatment.
Are There Any Cautions for Post-Treatment?
The only real caution for individuals treated with Sculptra is patience. Though there will be some noticeable fullness immediately after receiving an injection, this is just the result of the water content of Sculptra. When that water evaporates, within a few days, that initial fullness will disappear. It may take weeks or even months for the actual effects of treatment to become noticeable, since they are the result of increased collagen production by the body and this can take some time. So you should not become discouraged if you don’t see immediate results, wait it out and you will be happily rewarded.
How Does It Compare To Other Fillers?
There are several noticeable differences between Sculptra and other dermal fillers. First and foremost is its basic composition. Sculptra is entirely synthetic, unlike other fillers that are made from animal or plant based products, and therefore will not cause allergic reaction of any kind. Because of its unique composition and the fact that it works by stimulating the body to produce its own collagen, the effects of Sculptra last far longer than those of other fillers.
The effects of Sculptra can last as long as two years, compared to a few months for most fillers. For the same reason, it can take weeks or even months for the effects of Sculptra to become noticeable. Because of the lasting results, it may not be necessary to have as many repeat treatments of Sculptra, which can keep overall costs down, but it is not covered by most health insurance policies, except for treatment of lipoatrophy associated with HIV/AIDS.