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With the aging process itself prompts our bodies to store fat (where we don’t want it, such as from the waist down), and yet we lose fat from our face. As we age, the cheeks lose their fullness, along with their ability to support the nasolabial folds. Volume loss in the face is an inevitable sign of aging, and losing the fat makes wrinkles and furrows more pronounced.

Just like a deflating balloon, you can remove some of the excess skin to make it tight again, as in the case of a facelift. But in other cases you can get a remarkable result by replacing lost volume with injectables.  This is why both surgical and non-surgical facial rejuvenation place such an emphasis on restoring the volume and plumpness that is associated with youth.


                          Skin Structure Diagram showing lines, wrinkles and folds

                                                          Image courtesy of Sculptra


How it Works:  As we age, the cheeks lose their fullness, along with their ability to support the nasolabial folds. Sculptra is not a filler but rather a collagen catalyst that stimulates your own collagen to grow. Rather than explaining lost volume like the replacement fillers, stimulating fillers like Sculptra contain microscopic particles that actually prompt your skin to produce more collagen, in turn rebuilding the skin’s support structure and restoring a more youthful appearance. This product works like how one would throw grass seeds into dirt, and then watch them start growing. Sculptra relies almost exclusively on the body's collagen production to cause a more global increasing of volume of the facial structure. 


                                                 How Sculptra Works

                   How Sculptra works on wrinkles or depressed areas

                                                            Image courtesy of Sculptra


Rather than injecting directly into a wrinkle, you have Sculptra injected into a general area to fill and it grows in over time. The basic principal behind its use is that is stimulates an inflammatory response with the patient’s deposition of soft tissues over time.  

The boost in collagen is simply an immune reaction to the filler that helps plump the injected area from within, and Sculptra decreases the appearance of the nasolabial folds by building up the mid-face.  Rather than filling lines – Sculptra adds volume that lifts the soft tissues and in turn diminishes the lines. Sculptra re-contours the face with using mechanical force in a way that smoothes the folds and furrows.



                 Sculptra packaging and promotional material     Sculptra by Dermik - Injectable Poly-L-Lactic Acid packaging

                                                      Image courtesy of Sculptra


Sculptra has been used off label for cosmetic purposes as it was originally indicated and FDA approved to treat the atrophy of facial fat associated with HIV.  Sculptra is produced from Dermix Company.  Dermatologists and plastic surgeons have been using Sculptra on healthy patients for a number of years now.  Most patients require an average of two to three treatments spaced three to four weeks apart for optimal results.  Some results can last up to a year or two, however; most patients see the longevity of this product to be around nine months.




Treatment takes about 10 minutes, during which your doctor will give you 10 to 20 injections.  Local anesthetic is normally used before hand to numb the treated area and most patients do not feel most pain.  Because Sculptra is delivered with saline, you can expect some swelling from the injections; however this will dissipate within 24- 48 hours after the procedure.




Sculptra comes as a powder, must be mixed with water and local anesthetic at least two hours prior to use, preferably mixed 24 hours prior to use. One vial can produce 6-10 cc of product. The initial effect only lasts for a few days.  The fluid is absorbed, but the powder is left behind. The powder causes the skin to get thicker.  Anywhere from three to six treatments - spaced one to two months apart, are needed.  Vigorous massaging is needed 5 times per day for a few weeks after the material is injected (this is done by the patient at home).  Sculptra is very good for replacing lost volume in the cheeks.




You might have some soreness at the injection site, however normally the pain is not much. You normally will not see an improvement with Sculptra until the second or third treatment. Some patients claim the “gradual results” with Sculptra are a plus if you want to keep this from family or friends, as the results are not immediate. When improvement becomes visible over two to four months, it isn’t at all obvious to others that anything is being done.




Sculptra Information:

  • What it is: 

Microscopic particles in a synthetic carrier gel


  • Pros: 

Longer lasting results than most fillers


  • Cons:  

Requires a serious of treatments


  • How long it lasts: 

Manufactures states – Eighteen to Twenty-four Months


  • Approximate Longevity:  

Nine months





Other Facial Filler Links:
 - A Cosmetic Surgery Support Network