What is Sculptra®?
It is a semi-permanent filler composed of polylactic acid which is injected to help correct facial lipoatrophy due to the ageing process or resulting from the side effects of certain drugs. Sculptra® or polylactic acid is a biocompatible, bioabsorbable synthetic polymer which is immunologically inert and has been around for 20 years and has proved to be safe.
How does it work?
It increases skin thickness through an initial bulk effect and subsequent stimulation of fibroblasts over time (weeks) to increase collagen production (months). This will result in the development of increased skin thickness but with the retention of normal skin appearance and texture.
What is Sculptra® used for?
Sculptra is used to treat:
- scars and wrinkles
- fine lines, skin creases and furrows
- facial lipoatrophy* and volume loss
- to treat facial lipoatrophy related to HIV infection and HAART
Type of patients involved
HIV + patients with facial lipoatrophy.
How is Sculptra® administered?
Poly-L-lactic acid is mixed with local anaesthetic and injected into the dermis of the skin. The treatment is administered every 2 weeks for a minimum of 3 sessions.
How long will the treatment take? Is it painful?
It takes between 30-45 minutes depending on the area being treated. The poly-L-lactic acid filler is mixed with local anaesthetic to numb the area being treated. The patient will experience pain from the needle pricks only. An ice-pack will be applied before the treatment to numb the skin before injecting.
What must I do after the injections?
Your dermatologist will provide specific aftercare instructions. You will need to massage the treated areas for a few minutes each night for several days after treatment.
How long will the filling effects last for?
A change in the facial contour is evident immediately due to the injected volume but this disappears after 48 hours once the fluid from the injected product is absorbed. Volume increase then occurs gradually 4 to 6 weeks following treatment providing gradual, natural-looking results. Its effects last up to 2 years following which a "top up" may be required.
Are there any side-effects?
Sculptra injection is a relatively safe procedure. Some potential side effects are injection related and transient. These may include bleeding, pain, local redness, bruising and swelling. In rare cases skin thickening and nodules have been reported but this was thought to be due to incorrect dilution techniques. Massaging the injection area after treatment can minimize the chance of occurrence of these nodules.
Is the volume enhancing effect of Sculptra® permanent?
No. Although the effect of poly-L-lactic acid filler injections have been shown to persist beyond 2 years, its effects are not permanent and "top-up" injections may need to be administered.
Valantin MA, Aubron-Olivier C, Ghosn J et al. Polylactic acid implants to correct facial lipoatrophy in HIV-infected patients: results of the open-label study VEGA. AIDS 2003; 17:2471-2477.