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Sculptra Q&A with Dr. Jennifer Herrmann

Posted on: November 28th, 2017 by Dr. Jennifer Herrmann

If you wish to regain a more youthful appearance naturally, re-volumizing the face with injected Sculptra Aesthetic may be a perfect option for gradually restoring a younger looking you. Unlike many soft tissue “fillers,” Sculptra is a “volumizer” that stimulates your own tissue to produce more collagen.

Collagen is the skin’s most important support protein that gives us our youthful fullness and lift. Starting in our mid-30s, collagen production begins to decline leading to wrinkles, lines, sagging, and and hollows. Aging, sun damage, stress and other environmental factors accelerate collagen breakdown.

Sculptra is made of Poly-L-Lactic Acid (PLA) crystals that are biocompatible with the human body. Sculptra PLA is injected deeply into the skin and is gradually absorbed by the body. Over the course of 4-6 weeks after treatment, the Sculptra crystals stimulate collagen synthesis, and this rebuilds the skin’s support structure. The result is more support and fullness, and after a series of sessions, results can last up to two years.

Q: Can I take collagen in a supplement and improve my skin?
What about skin creams?

Such a good and timely question, given the explosion of collagen “supplements” on the market. Collagen is a protein that when ingested is broken down into building blocks called amino acids. These amino acids are then processed and distributed throughout the body where they are reassembled into proteins to do work in tissues like muscle, bone, vessels and skin. Although eating collagen is a good source of protein, your body can’t tell whether you’re eating chicken, chic peas, quinoa or popping a collagen “shot.” If you prefer the taste of your favorite protein-rich food, I’d stick with that for healthy skin. Check out more on this discussion on our bog.

Concerning “collagen” creams, the biggest problem with this group of retail products is that collagen is a HUGE structure! Our skin is smart and an excellent barrier that prohibits large molecules from freely entering the body. Although the collagen in a cream may be “good,” because of its large size, it can’t pass the outermost layers of skin to get to where it’s needed in the deeper dermal layers for rejuvenation. If you like the feel of a particular “collagen” cream that’s fine, but an inexpensive moisturizer would likely work just as well.

Q: How can I protect the collagen I have?

Sun protection is your best dollar spent for protecting collagen, and using a sunscreen with DNA repair enzymes like our Sheer Defense gives you both protection and damage repair. Sticking to a nutritious diet, minimizing stress, and getting adequate sleep also helps preserve your native collagen from everyday insults.

Q: What are Sculptra side effects?

Because Sculptra is biocompatible and derived from lactic acid, a natural body bi-product, it almost never creates a reaction when placed into the skin. Initially, because a lot of fluid is injected with the product, you may feel “puffy,” but this resolves over 1-2 days. As with any injectable, there is a possibility of bruising after treatments, but bruises typically resolve over a few days.

Q: Do the injections hurt?

Because a small amount of anesthetic is placed before injections and because Sculptra is mixed with anesthetic itself, injections are usually well tolerated. Ice packs are also used during treatments to maximize comfort.

Q: I heard that massage is a key part of the Sculptra procedure.
Can you explain why this is important?

Yes! We encourage patients to massage treated areas for 5 minutes, 5 times per day for 5 days. This is important to help prevent product from accumulating and creating bumps or lumps under the skin.

Q: Why can’t I see results immediately? When will I see results?

Because Sculptra stimulates your own body to produce collagen, this process takes time, typically around 6 weeks. After Sculptra is injected, water mixed with the product absorbs over 1-2 days, and it appears that “nothing” was done. Then, as the Sculptra particles start stimulating collagen synthesis, my patients begin to see mild improvement after about 6 weeks. At this time we often proceed with another injection session to build on initial improvement. Most of my patients see full results after 2-3 treatments.

Q: Will I need more than one treatment to see improvement?

Yes, to achieve maximized rejuvenation, we typically recommend at least 2-3 sessions, spaced about 6 weeks apart.

Q: What are alternatives to Sculptra?

There are many soft tissue “fillers” on the market like Restylane, Juvederm, and Radiesse. While many of these provide more “instant” fill, they don’t stimulate as much native collagen synthesis. Depending on your facial structure, aging, and goals, resurfacing lasers like our fractionated erbium or CO2 lasers are often used in conjunction with injectables like Sculptra to tighten skin and smooth lines, giving a more naturally beautiful, fully rejuvenated look. Restored volume but “aged” skin can still appear “old.” Lasers can help freshen skin to better match youthful volume.

Q: Can I have Sculptra with a laser treatment, before or after?

I prefer to space injectable and laser treatments at least 24 hours apart. Both can cause swelling, which can change how the face appears. For patients that need to complete treatments on the same day, I typically complete injections before laser treatments.

Q: What areas of my face will benefit from Sculptra?

Scultra is perfect for lifting cheeks, defining the jaw and volumizing hollows like the temples. I also like using it in dilute concentrations on the chest for smoothing wrinkles and on the backs of the hands to smooth contour and better hide bones, tendons, and large veins.


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