Whether you know me already or are just checking out my services (and attitude) you need to know I’m a local girl with an aesthetic eye toward natural beauty. My favorite thing to do is enhance features my patients already have, maybe just make them look more rested, or shave a few years off. I’m decidedly against pillow face!
Often my peeps come to see me for a little wrinkle relaxation to start, then they return and they have one or two curious questions like: “what would you do for this?” (while pointing at their cheeks, or jowls, or nasolabial folds, or marionette lines, or simply pulling back their entire face). I’m happy to help guide decision making, but I’ll never over sell something I don’t think jives with your look, your anatomy, or your goals. I don’t know about every product or device out there, but I do hear stories and am happy to give you my thoughts on even things I don’t offer myself. When I add something to my line up it’s after careful research, but sometimes I bring on a service too that I end up feeling isn’t all it was cracked up to be, and I’ll admit that too!
All that being said—one of my go to recommendations (and a solid “hell yes!” product) continues to be poly-L-lactic acid which is sold under the brand name Sculptra in the United States. Sculptra has been around for 20 years and comes from a very interesting beginning (you should ask me about it). Why do I like this treatment? #1 It’s a filler that’s not a filler, it triggers your OWN collagen growth. #2 It provides what I call global enhancement—where a syringe of filler is good for a specific target area (like lips). That means your whole face looks fresher, younger…but not overdone. #3 Even when injected deep, it helps give the skin a lovely glow. #4 It’s one of the few treatments that can help give your peripheral face a little pull (think temple area, and the crepey skin you start noticing in front of the ears, or even smile lines in your lower cheeks). Much of aging is from chronic UV exposure and from collagen loss which starts at about age 30, and doesn’t come back without a gentle nudge. Sculptra is a great nudge!
Poly-L-Lactic-Acid comes as a powder which is then reconstituted with sterile water and usually a little lidocaine by the provider. It is then injected based on what is seen during our assessment. There are on label indications, and different ways (off label) of getting there, but for me commonly areas treated includes the temple, the cheeks, near the nose, the hollow by the chin and near the corner of the jaw. After injections you’re numb for about 15-30 minutes. You’ll feel a little puffy due to the water, but that is resorbed over the next several days. One of the most important parts of after care for you includes massaging—5 minutes, 5 times a day, for the first 5 days. Why? Massage encourages the little particles to float uniformly in the tissue until the water is all resorbed, and reduces the risk of developing a nodule (which is just collagen, and no big deal). When the water is absorbed you might initially think “what was that for? I don’t see anything!”—but that’s precisely when the magic is happening. Your body then sees the teensy-weensy particulate, it goes to work to extract it while replacing it with your own collagen! That improves the “fluff” in your skin, and once you’re corrected appropriately, you will notice improvement for up to two years.
On average I recommend 2 vials x 2 sessions spaced 2 months apart (give or take). Another vial or two might be suggested but I usually wait for about 4-6 months before I make that decision because your collagen growth takes time to be seen and appreciated. So, for the money you invest in Sculptra as a solid foundation to revitalizing your face, you’ll have a reduced need for hyaluronic acid fillers (translation, eventual savings) that can still be used to add contour, or fluff the lippies, or what have you.
Like most injectables it is not advised to be used in pregnancy, lactation or if you have a tendency to keloid or hypertrophic scarring. Also, not a first choice for those with a flair or compromised immune systems— (funny strange though, it was developed to bolster confidence and quality of life for patients suffering significant immunocompromise in the 1990’s). It takes special training to inject this product well –so be sure you know who you’re going to when you take the leap!
Most common side effects are swelling, tenderness, redness which last for a few days. Bruising, bleeding, itching and bumps can also occur. It is not used around the eye or in the lips due to the constant motion of those muscle groups.
I’m on my own Sculptra journey—I practice what I preach. I had my first session in October, and my second in December of 2022. I’m now in chill mode waiting to see if there is more in my future but I can tell you I’m not pillow face, and my jowls don’t distract me the way they used to. I’m happy with what I see so far, and I do it for me not for anyone else. That makes it a total win in my book.
So, if you ask me a curious question and I think it’s the right answer and appropriate for your precious face, don’t be surprised if I hand you a Sculptra brochure and ask you to do a little research (full product details can be found on sculptra.com). I want you to stay you for as long as possible!