Sculptra

Sculptra is a type of dermal filler. This cosmetic procedure uses FDA-approved poly-L-lactic acid to reduce deep wrinkles in your skin. This filler is noninvasive. A healthcare provider will inject Sculptra into your skin. You can get back to normal activities quickly, but it may take four to six weeks to see full results after the procedure.

Overview

What is Sculptra?

Sculptra® is a type of dermal filler, which is a cosmetic procedure to smooth fine lines and deep wrinkles.

Sculptra is a gel-like substance made of poly-L-lactic acid. A healthcare provider will inject this filler underneath your skin where you want a fuller or smoother appearance. Poly-L-lactic acid is a collagen stimulator that absorbs into your body a few days after treatment to encourage your cells to produce more collagen. Collagen is a protein in your skin — as well as in your connective tissues, bones and cartilage — that provides structure, support and strength.

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Where is Sculptra injected?

You might get Sculptra injected into areas of your body where you have lines and wrinkles that you want smoothed out. The most common areas of Sculptra injections include:

  • Buttocks.
  • Hips.

Who might choose to get Sculptra?

You might be interested in cosmetic dermal fillers using Sculptra if you want to:

  • Reduce deep wrinkles.
  • Elevate recessed areas of skin.
  • Redefine or soften contours.
  • Treat fat loss (lipoatrophy) caused by HIV.
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How long does Sculptra last?

Dermal fillers like Sculptra can last more than two years. Sculptra isn’t a permanent solution to deep wrinkles. You may need multiple injections every few years to maintain your results.

How common are dermal fillers with Sculptra done?

Sculptra is a type of dermal filler. There were approximately 3,410,730 soft tissue dermal fillers performed in the United States in 2020. Of that number, 134,123 procedures were completed with Sculptra.

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Procedure Details

What happens before a Sculptra injection?

Before a dermal filler procedure, you’ll meet with a healthcare provider who specializes in fillers. They’ll perform a consultation to learn more about you, including your:

  • Overall health and if you have any allergies.
  • Goals for the procedure.
  • Current medications, vitamins or supplements you take.
  • History of similar cosmetic procedures (if applicable).

During this consultation, your provider may:

  • Evaluate whether or not you’re healthy enough for the procedure.
  • Discuss types of fillers, including Sculptra.
  • Take photographs to compare how your skin looks before and after treatment.
  • Explain the risks, potential side effects or complications that could happen.
  • Schedule a date for the procedure.
  • Answer any questions you might have about the procedure.

What happens during a Sculptra injection?

Dermal fillers using Sculptra are nonsurgical cosmetic procedures that you’ll receive during an office visit. You’ll be awake during the procedure. The steps of a Sculptra injection include:

  1. Your provider will clean the area of skin where you’ll get an injection.
  2. They may give you a topical anesthetic to numb the area of your skin so you won’t feel any pain or discomfort.
  3. They’ll inject filler underneath your skin with a small needle. You may feel some pressure but you shouldn’t feel pain.

What happens after a Sculptra injection?

When your provider completes the Sculptra injection, you’re free to go about your normal activities without interruption. You’ll want to avoid strenuous activities for a couple of days. There may be bruising or swelling at the injection site that will go away after a couple of days. If you feel sore, you can take over-the-counter NSAIDs as your provider advises. Within about a month of injection, you should start to notice that your skin looks plumper or fuller.

Risks / Benefits

Is Sculptra safe?

Yes, Sculptra is a safe form of dermal filler. It’s U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved. Your healthcare provider will advise you on whether you’re a candidate for the procedure based on your current health status and goals. It may not be an effective procedure if you’re allergic or sensitive to any of the filler’s components or if you have trouble healing after an injury.

What are the advantages of this procedure?

Advantages of getting a Sculptra dermal filler include:

  • It reduces fine lines or deep wrinkles.
  • It’s safe and FDA-approved.
  • It improves your appearance to meet your cosmetic goals.
  • It replenishes collagen production in your skin.

What are the risks of this procedure?

As with all cosmetic procedures, there are risks or side effects that could happen, but they’re rare. The risks of Sculptra include:

  • Swelling.
  • Bruising
  • Skin discoloration.
  • Pain or discomfort.
  • Itching.
  • Bumps or lumps underneath your skin.

Recovery and Outlook

What is the recovery time for a Sculptra injection?

Sculptra injections are noninvasive procedures, and the healing time is relatively quick compared to other cosmetic treatments. Your skin might be sore, and you could have light bruising at the injection site for a couple of days. Avoid exercising or strenuous activities for at least 24 hours after the injection. You’ll be well enough to return to your daily activities immediately after the procedure.

When to Call the Doctor

When should I see a healthcare provider?

If you have bruising that lasts longer than a week or severe pain at your injection site that doesn’t resolve by taking over-the-counter NSAIDs, contact your healthcare provider.

Additional Common Questions

The differences between common dermal fillers, including Sculptra, and how they affect your body.
You have several choices of dermal fillers, including Sculptra, to make cosmetic changes to your body.

What’s the difference between Sculptra and other common dermal fillers?

There are a lot of dermal fillers available. A healthcare provider who specializes in cosmetic procedures can help you pick the right filler based on your goals for the treatment. Common dermal fillers in addition to Sculptra include:

  • Juvéderm®: A hyaluronic acid filler to plump and hydrate your skin.
  • Radiesse®: A calcium hydroxylapatite filler that stimulates collagen production to reduce fine lines and wrinkles.

Can Sculptra be used on hip dips?

A hip dip is the shape of your pelvis where your hip bone is higher than your femur. A hip dip causes your muscles and fat to curve inward. You can find hip dips where your hip meets your thigh. Not everyone has a hip dip.

Some people with hip dips don’t like the indentation and choose to get dermal fillers like Sculptra to smooth out this area.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Sculptra is a safe cosmetic procedure to reduce deep wrinkles. You might be interested in Sculptra if you have recesses, indentations or fine lines that you want eliminated on your skin. Sculptra can last over two years, but it’s not a permanent cosmetic procedure, so you may need fillers every few years to maintain your results.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 02/03/2023.

Learn more about our editorial process.

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