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What’s Sculptra? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

What’s Sculptra? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

Sculptra is an age-defying injectable that boosts your natural collagen production. 

We love using it to restore lost volume, improve skin laxity and minimize wrinkles for a smoother, more youthful appearance. But what exactly is it, and how does it work?

The FDA-approved benefits of Sculptra can help you achieve more youthful-looking skin — without cosmetic surgery. 

We’re huge fans of using this amazing injectable cosmetic treatment to restore age-related volume loss, improve elasticity and rejuvenate the skin for a smoother, firmer, plumper appearance. Let's talk a bit about Sculptra and how it works.

To start, what is Sculptra?

Before you can understand the benefits Sculptra offers, you have to first understand what it is.

An injectable cosmetic treatment, Sculptra works with your body to help it gradually rebuild and replace lost collagen (the most abundant type of structural protein in the body). The active ingredient behind Sculptra’s ability to achieve this goal is microparticle beads of poly-L-lactic acid, known simply as PLLA-SCA.

PLLA-SCA is a member of the alpha-hydroxy-acid (AHA) family, just like lactic acid, glycolic acid and citric acid. While they do many things, AHAs are primarily known for their exfoliating properties — they help the skin rid itself of dead skin cells. PLLA-SCA is also biocompatible, which means it doesn't harm living tissue even though it's made from synthetic materials. 

When injected just below the skin's surface, PLLA-SCA helps to restore the skin’s inner structure and volume. As the microparticle beads begin to absorb into the dermis, Sculptra stimulates increased production of type 1 collagen (the densely packed form of collagen protein that makes up most of the structure of the skin). 

Over time, having more type 1 collagen in the skin helps to fill in and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

What are the benefits of Sculptra?

In addition to helping minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, there are other benefits that can result from the increased collagen production that Sculptra can provide — it’s a major part of why it's such a popular cosmetic treatment! 

For instance, Sculptra can help improve the appearance of facial wrinkles and thin, sagging skin, plump up hollow areas of the face and promote a more youthful appearance. Plus, unlike other cosmetic treatments that provide some of the same benefits, Sculptra treatments require minimal downtime!

Where is Sculptra injected?

Because Sculptra is used to treat facial volume loss, it can be injected in different areas of the face, depending on your specific concerns. 

Common treatment areas include: 

  • Temples
  • Preauricular area (the area just in front of the ears)
  • Cheeks
  • Chin
  • Jawline
  • Neck + chest

In addition to being injected directly, Sculptra's a great way to enhance your next microneedling treatment. While injections can target more specific areas, microneedling provides all-over, subtle rejuvenation benefits to the skin.

Regardless of how you choose to receive your Sculptra treatment, we take a number of measures to make sure you stay as comfortable as possible during your appointment.

How does Sculptra differ from other collagen stimulators?

Sculptra’s primary job is to promote collagen production in the skin. However, many other types of skin care products and treatments also promise to help you achieve this goal. So, what’s the difference?

When compared to other anti-aging treatments like collagen creams, oral collagen supplements and aesthetic smoothing treatments (like Botox), what sets Sculptra apart is how it achieves its results. While other methods of smoothing and firming the skin focus on temporary ways of making the skin appear more youthful, Sculptra helps to make real change and deliver natural results. 

Also, because Sculptra is made from a biocompatible ingredient (much like hyaluronic acid), the treatment is considered safe for most people. Our advanced practice providers can help determine if it's a good option for you! 

How many Sculptra injections will I need, and when will I start to see the results?

Just like with most aesthetic treatments, the number of injections you'll need to achieve optimal results can vary. It all depends on the location of those injections and how much volume has been lost. 

On average, it takes most patients a total of two to four appointments over a period of about four to six weeks to reach their goals (slightly more if you choose microneedling over injections). You may begin to see noticeable changes about six to eight weeks after your initial injections as the collagen production starts to improve; those long-lasting results will likely continue to improve for the first year.

What is Sculptra maintenance like?

Once you’ve gotten your desired results, you’ll switch to maintenance injections that you can schedule as needed to keep up with them. Although results will vary, most people will continue to see the positive effects of Sculptra for up to two years after their initial appointment — these injection treatments are incredibly long-lasting! 

Can I combine Sculptra with other cosmetic treatments?

Absolutely! Sculptra is effective at helping to fill in areas of volume loss, but it can be even more effective when stacked with other cosmetic treatments. We recommend discussing treatment options with your provider. These may include Botox, Juvederm, other injectable dermal fillers and microneedling. 

However, we don't recommend having Sculptra injected within seven days of certain treatments, like laser procedures, BBL photofacials and waxing. 

Are there any side effects associated with Sculptra?

Like most other cosmetic treatments, Sculptra is associated with a few different, mostly mild effects. Most of these common side effects are related to localized injection site reactions like temporary swelling, bruising, mild discomfort/pain and redness. You can expect these symptoms to resolve on their own within a few days of your appointment, but contact your skin care provider if you have any concerns.

Should I do anything special after my appointment?

Post-treatment guidelines are similar to other injectable cosmetic treatments, with a few small exceptions. We recommend that you avoid wearing makeup for at least 12 hours, strenuous exercise for 24 hours and extreme temperatures as well as direct sunlight for 72 hours as your skin heals. 

Unlike Botox or other types of dermal fillers, we do suggest that you massage the areas of your skin that were treated five times a day (for about five minutes each time) for the first five days after your appointment. If you experience any swelling, you can apply a cool compress (for no more than 15 consecutive minutes an hour) and sleep on your back with your face slightly elevated.

SOURCES:

The hype on hyaluronic acid | Harvard Health

Oral Collagen Supplementation: A Systematic Review of Dermatological Applications | PMC

Sculptra: What It Is, Where It’s Injected, Results & Risks | Cleveland Clinic

Dual Effects of Alpha-Hydroxy Acids on the Skin | PMC

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