Sculptra is a dermal filler therapy that was initially designed to treat patients with HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) who develop a condition referred to as HIV-induced Lipoatrophy. HIV-induced Lipoatrophy is a result not of the viral infection itself. Rather, one of the mainstays of treatment is use of protease inhibitor therapy. This type of antiviral therapy results in significant loss of facial subcutaneous fat, leaving patients with a gaunt, almost cachectic look. Sculptra was initially developed to treat those patients, and it is incredibly effective at replacing volume in patients with HIV positivity.
In 2009, Sculptra was re-introduced as an aesthetic treatment for the general public, and was approved by the FDA. Unlike all other listed fillers, Sculptra does not offer immediate results. Sculptra injections are placed throughout the face, and the volume essentially disappears into the facial tissue. Subsequently, Sculptra then starts an “internal engine” of collagen replacement, allowing for replacement of volume. Multiple treatments are always required with Sculptra.
Sculptra base molecule is a substance called Poly-L-lactic acid. Poly-L-lactic acid is also the parent compound of Vicryl suture. Vicryl suture is a braided suture used in surgery by almost all surgical specialties. In the case of Sculptra, the PLLA is in liquid form, allowing for injection of the material. Sculptra is injected, and the PLLA then interfaces with the native tissue, allowing for collagenesis.
While the product is effective, not all patients will respond to the therapy. Some patients are injected and get next to zero effect. Also, our practice is privileged to be a large volume facelift center, and we have performed hundreds of facelifts on patients who have been injected previously with Sculptra. The volume and tissue created by Sculptra looks, acts, and feels like deep scar tissue. It tends to be rough and irregular, and in my opinion, appears non-anatomic and un-natural. This appearance has been very consistent throughout my career regarding Sculptra, and as such, I do not feel comfortable creating a scar sheet under the skin, and calling it volume. Sculptra has been in use for over 10 years, and there are many happy patients after Sculptra therapy. The bottom line for us at Ocean Drive Plastic Surgery is that we would not offer it to our own families with what we know, and what we have seen. Because of this, we will not offer it to you or your family.