Other Associated Terms: New-Fill ™, Newfill™, New Fill™, “Liquid Facelift”.
Sculptra®, which is marketed as New-Fill™ in countries other than the United States, is an injectable agent composed mostly of poly-L-lactic acid. Sculptra® is highly effective in the treatment of fine lines and wrinkles on the face. It can also be used to increase facial volume and to treat lipoatrophy (loss of facial fat tissue). Sculptra® is approved for the treatment of lipodystrophy (general fat tissue loss) in HIV patients; however since its FDA approval, it can be used “off-label” to treat any patient with cosmetic issues and is rapidly becoming popular with cosmetic surgeons as a non-surgical fine line and wrinkle reducer.
Sculptra® works by stimulating the growth of collagen at the injection location and surrounding areas. The poly-L-lactic acid ingredient in the product formula has been used in dissolvable sutures (stitches) for more than 20 years. Sculptra® is not actually a filler, but rather a catalyst that causes the growth of your own tissue (collagen). Because of this, the amount of collagen production and longevity of results will vary from one patient to another. The results from Sculptra® can last up to two years.
The benefits of Sculptra® include an increase in face volume and thickness of the skin, which can produce a healthier, youthful appearance. This is why the term “liquid facelift” has been used to describe the relatively dramatic results of Sculptra®. These results can last longer than dermal fillers. For example, Restylane® effects may only last a few months while Sculptra® effects can last up to 2 years.
The polylactic acid in Sculptra® is inert, biologically, so the risk of allergic reactions is eliminated.
Candidates for Sculptra® include patients (including those with HIV or AIDS) who are looking to either replace loss facial volume or who wish to reduce wrinkles. However, those patients who are taking aspirin (or similar anti-inflammatory medications), who are subject to skin infections or who have lowered immune systems should consult with their doctor prior to Sculptra® treatments.
Initial preparation for Sculptra® injections is primarily limited to the abstention of alcohol, vitamin E and anti-inflammatory drugs (such as aspirin) for a week before treatment. This is to reduce bruising in the areas of injection.
The area to be treated will be cleaned, marked and a local anesthetic will be applied. For injections to the cheeks, an infraorbital injection of lidocaine can be used, for example. After the anesthesia takes effect, the Sculptra® injections can begin.
Small amounts of Sculptra® are introduced in groups of 15-20 tiny injections just below the skin’s surface, in each desired area. As the small amounts are injected, the area will be massaged by the doctor (this is important). This allows for very little discomfort, correct medication application and the entire process may be surprisingly easy. Patients may require 2-3 treatment sessions to achieve desired results (although some patients may need as many as six).
Recovery time is relatively quick with Sculptra® injections. There may be slight discomfort, bruising or redness following the procedure and ice packs can be used, for a few minutes at a time, during the initial 24 hours after the injections. Most patients feel well enough to return to work immediately after treatment, however. Follow-up appointments will be scheduled, by your doctor.
It’s extremely important that patients, who have received Sculptra® injections, massage the treated areas a few times daily for several days following the injections. This is to avoid the formation of nodules under the skin. Exposure to direct sunlight or UV light should be limited /avoided until any redness or swelling has dissipated.
Risks Associated with Sculptra®
Sculptra® treatments are performed in multiple sessions in order to gauge the reactions of individual patients. Redness and lumps in the injection areas are possible, but can be treated by your doctor and are usually temporary. However, in rare cases, lump formation (granulomas) can be significant and difficult to treat. Sculptra® should not be used under the eyes or for lip augmentation.
Sculptra® has been used over the last 10 years (under the name New-Fill™) in patients throughout Europe with limited negative issues reported.
Each syringe of Sculptra® runs between $450 and $500 (about $1000 per vial). The amount that will be used by your cosmetic surgeon will vary and total costs will also include doctor’s fees and other miscellaneous charges. You should discuss total pricing, with your doctor, during your consultation.
However, on average, total costs run between $1000 and $1,900 per treatment (but can cost up to $3000). In some cases, as with lipodystrophy treatment, medical insurance may cover the procedures (check with your medical insurance company). Financing can usually be arranged, through your doctor, as well.
Things to Discuss with Your Surgeon During Your Consultation
Before receiving Sculptra® treatments, you should first have a consultation with your doctor. The questions and topics that are usually brought up can include; the details of the procedure and safety issues. For example
- Where and how are the treatments performed?
- What possible risks are there with Sculptra® injections and how many patients, in that practice, have experienced complications?
- What is the doctor’s experience with Sculptra® (how many procedures has he or she performed in the last year)?
- What is the doctor’s policy for treating complications or results that do not meet agreed upon standards?
- What is the total cost of the treatment and is financing available (if needed)?