Sculptra® is an amazing product for helping patients look more vibrant. It works to correct the inevitable facial volume loss we all experience as we age.
Sculptra® originated from a suture material that we surgeons use in the operating room. This suture is called Vicryl and is made of Polyglycolic Acid. It was noted that when we used Vicryl in surgery as a deep suture, the body formed collagen around it, making the deep wound strong. This allowed us to remove surface sutures earlier since the deep tissue was so strong underneath.
Someone wondered, since this suture formed collagen under the skin in a surgical wound, what would happen if a piece of this suture was placed under the skin in place where there wasn’t a deep wound? Would it form collagen? They tried it and found that it did.
They then chopped up this suture material into very fine pieces and suspended it in water. This solution was then injected into the face in areas that had lost volume with age or disease, and the face responded by making its own collagen to correct those deficits.
The power of this product is that it allows us to put significant volume back into the faces of patients who need lots of volume in an economical fashion. The other nice thing about it is how it works gradually.
The Sculptra® Procedure
A topical anesthesia is placed on the parts of the face to be injected with the Sculptra®.
After allowing the topical anesthesia time to work, a second layer of anesthesia is injected into a few spots on the face where the needle will be passed through. This allows the initial injections to be relatively pain-free.
Finally, a third layer of anesthesia is placed by mixing injectable anesthesia into the Sculptra® product itself. This way, as the Sculptra® is injected, the face becomes increasingly numb and pain-free as the procedure progresses.
The results are seen immediately after the treatment, which takes about 30 minutes, and they last about 2 days. I often tell patients to put on makeup and go out and enjoy the results for those first two days if they want to show them off.
After 2 days, the water in which the small pieces of Sculptra® were suspended is reabsorbed by the body, and the beautiful facial fullness achieved by the procedure seems to go away. But, over the next 8 weeks, the body finds these small pieces of Sculptra® and grows collagen around them, causing some of the initial volume to come back.
Usually, 30-40% of the initial volume comes back over this 8-week period. The treatment is then repeated, and again, another 30-40% of new collagen and volume grows over the initial 30-40 % of new collagen. It often takes 2-4 treatments, spread 8 weeks apart, for the full results to be noticed. But, when established, those results last 2-5 years.
Some people love this treatment because, if no one sees them for the first 2 days, their friends notice that their faces begin to look younger and fuller week by week. We call this “getting younger gradually.” I like this treatment for patients of mine who are in the public eye because they can’t look changed instantly without everyone becoming suspicious of what they did. This product allows gentle gradual, improvement.
Potential side effect with Sculptra® include “nodules” in the skin, which are actually little balls of new collagen around the Sculptra® particles. When Sculptra® first came out, many palpable nodules were noted because the amount of water used with the Sculptra® was less than what we use today. Now, we dilute the Sculptra® with a large volume of water and anesthesia, which allows for a very even result with minimal issues of focal collections of collagen nodules.
In conclusion, Sculptra® is a powerful product for helping restore natural, beautiful volume to an aging face to make it more attractive and vibrant.