Collagen Vs. Sculptra Aesthetic: Which Works Better For Smile Lines?

Nasolabial folds, or smile lines, account for many of the cosmetic complaints heard by dermatologists and plastic surgeons. Although doctors assess each patient in order to determine which injectable filler is most appropriate, a new study offers strong support for choosing Sculptra Aesthetic over collagen.

Made from poly-L-lactic acid, Sculptra Aesthetic was compared to one of the most popular human-derived collagen fillers by a team at the University of Alabama's Department of Dermatology. More than 200 patients between the ages of 26 and 73 received nasolabial injections of one or the other at three-week intervals, up to four times. In the months following the injections, the photographic measurement tool known as the Wrinkle Assessment Scale was used to analyze the results, which were significantly different.

Not only did Sculptra Aesthetic, which works by gradually replacing lost collagen, score much higher on the Wrinkle Assessment Scale than the collagen filler, it was also proven to last far longer. Sculptra Aesthetic's effects lasted up to 25 months, whereas the collagen wore off within three months.

In terms of safety, the side effects seen in the study were very similar, with around nine percent of participants experiencing nodules regardless of which filler was used.

Keep in mind, your doctor may not recommend either Sculptra Aesthetic or collagen for your nasolabial folds. Although this study did not include them, hyaluronic acid fillers like Juvederm, Restylane and Perlane are options, as well. A board-certified dermatologist, plastic surgeon or facial plastic surgeon who has experience in multiple fillers can help you weigh the benefits when deciding which is right for you.
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14 comments | Post a comment
Is lumps a serious concern for sculptra? I am thinking of doing it and had an extensive discussion with my doctor. She told me that she injects it deeply and none of her patients reported lumps so far. But I do get nervous when I read about others' experience with this problem. Some even say they end up with a puffy face becos of the uncontrolled growth of collagen. Any advice please?
Posted April 13, 2012 4:48 PM EDT
I've been getting Sculptra facial injections for several years now. I have Lupus Profungus which is an autoimmune disease that eats away at the fat cells in my body and was very prominate in my facial area. I started looking sickly and skeletal-like. Although the Sculptra injections helped to fill my cheeks out to a degree, it has left a very lumpy appearance. I'd like to get the smoothness back in my face and am hopful that some other form of injections can help me me in this area. I don't swear off Sculptra, I just don't like the lumps it leaves.
Posted June 27, 2011 10:06 AM EDT
To anonymous: You need three treatments with Sculptra because it works by gradually causing your body to make it's own collagen. The other fillers work differently, adding volume to fill sunken or deeply wrinkled areas & mild to moderate skin folds. I had four Sculptra injection sessions into my bony hands, as they have lost lots of fat & volume over my 48 years of life. I really could have used another one, but due to the cost I decided to be happy with the improvement, rather than go for perfection. With botox you only need one injection into each area, but you need to repeat the treatment every few months or so as your muscles eventually go back to normal movement. Hope this helps!
Posted March 15, 2010 3:32 PM EDT
Collagen is a dermal filler and is used to plump up lines in the skin. Sculptra is a volumizer - it adds volume to the face, which is the real issue with aging. If the face volume can be maintained, lines won't form. Although Sculptra is initially more expensive, it lasts at least two years. By stimulating the body's own collagen formation the result is very gradual and the results are very natural. It is the more sophisticated way to deal with volume loss - by building up the face higher up, the skin is essentially "pulled up" thereby decreasing the depth of the nasolabial folds. Injecting the folds themselves with collagen is more like a band-aid fix - it makes that area of the face look better but does nothing for the upper face, which is where the volume loss is occurring. Hope this helps!
Posted March 07, 2010 4:37 PM EST
FYI Note to Anonymous on March 5th: I had the Juvederm injected by a Physician group practice that is designated to instruct other physicians on the method for injecting this product. Juvederm CAN migrate, per my physician. I would never recommend it for smile lines as smiling can potentially cause the migration of the product to the area lateral to actual injection site. Yes, you can counter inject it to get rid of it, but what a substantial waste of money. I would probably consider Sculptra for my cheeks IF the price came down from $1000/vial! With the number of vials required being about 3 - it is not something I would invest $3K in, at this point. Especially, not something that has no proven long term results.
Posted March 05, 2010 2:43 PM EST
Interesting article....Sculptra is a great product but if there is a problem it has to be cut out of you where as Juvederm doesn't have those side effects. My attitude is start with Juvederm & after a few years then move on to Sculptra. Juvederm is very natural & I have it in my cheeks, lips & smile lines. The only way Juvederm moves if it is injected in the wrong plane - a friend of mine had an inexperienced injector treat her and he didn't know where to inject! ugh!!
Posted March 05, 2010 5:14 AM EST
Wht do you need 3 treatments?
Posted March 03, 2010 10:40 AM EST
What is the average cost of sculptra and how long does it last?
Posted March 03, 2010 10:39 AM EST
Miss Ukr.
This comment is to Lisa. I would recomend to do more research on Botox and fillers and try to see a good cosmetic dermatologist in your area so they can suggest some treatments for you. You have to understend that Botox and fillers(there are many of them includind Sculptra)are two compleatly dofferent treatments,one is not insted of the other. Botox is used to treat some active lines and to prevent them in the future. Fillers are used for vollume. I hope this helps. I know some people who had some Sculptra done and they look very good. However you have to understend that this treatment might not be the best option for every patient that has a wrinkle or smile lines.
Posted March 02, 2010 8:19 PM EST
I am 49 and I had two sculptra treatments and I could not be happier. I just love it and I feel so much better about myself. The other day someone thought I was in my 30's.
Posted March 02, 2010 6:26 AM EST
SJD Chicago
I'm a 46 year old male and have had two Sculptra treatments and I couldn't be happier. The results are very natural and gradual. In addition to my smile lines, I had injections under my eyes and my chin. At my doctor's suggestion I took photographs on a weekly basis to monitor the results. I would definitely recommend Sculptra if you are considering a filler.
Posted March 02, 2010 5:49 AM EST
Does anyone know if Sculptra migrates beyond the nasolabial folds, as is found in Juvederm? This has been the major drawback to fillers.
Posted February 26, 2010 2:51 PM EST
My mother just had a liquid lift which included Sculptra and she looks amazing! She wasn't ready for a face lift and her plastic surgeon suggested this as an alternative - I am only in my 30's - is this appropriate for me to consider or should I stick with Botox?
Posted February 26, 2010 6:50 AM EST
I had sculptra last year and although it was a lit more painful than I thougt it would be - my dermatologist and I discussed whether or not I should do it - after 2 visits, I decided that I was ready - the results exceeded my expectations - I feel fabulous!
Posted February 26, 2010 6:44 AM EST

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