Everything to Know About Sculptra, the Injectable That Derms Can’t Stop Talking About

Everything to Know About Sculptra, the Injectable That Derms Can’t Stop Talking About featured image

By now, most of us are familiar with the power of injectables. They sculpt, volumize and smooth the skin for a more youthful look, making them one of the most popular minimally invasive treatments that aesthetics experts offer. While there are plenty of injectables on the market to choose from, there’s one that’s considered a go-to for many seeking a collagen stimulator that delivers a natural-looking appearance: Sculptra®.1-2

For those that are unfamiliar with this injectable, it’s “the first and only FDA-approved poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA) facial injectable treatment that helps stimulate the skin’s own natural collagen production to help restore facial volume and fullness,1-2” explains Pasadena, CA facial plastic surgeon Kay Durairaj, MD, adding that results are gradual and last up to two years after last injection.1*

Sounds great, right? We tapped Dr. Kay to tell us everything there is to know about this injectable—from how it works to who it’s best for—so you can decide for yourself if it’s the right option for you.

How does Sculptra work? 

“Sculptra works with your body to restore your skin’s inner structure, stimulating your own natural collagen production to increase lost facial volume1-2,” explains Dr. Kay. Not only can this injectable be used to replenish age-related facial volume loss, but it can also be used to smooth facial wrinkles, such as smile lines, to provide a more youthful-looking appearance.1-2

For the best results, Sculptra requires a series of treatment sessions—typically an average of 3 treatments spaced at least 3 weeks apart.1-3 While there is minimal downtime required after being treated with Sculptra, exercise is not recommended until 24-hours after injections, so skip the gym for a day post-treatment.

The most common side effects after initial treatment include injection site swelling, tenderness, redness, pain, bruising, bleeding, itching and lumps.

Who is a good candidate for Sculptra?

According to Dr. Kay, Sculptra is best for people who want a natural, youthful-looking appearance that lasts up to two years.1-2 “Sculptra can be used across a range of patient ages but may be especially well suited for younger patients—those in their 30s or early 40s who are just seeing the first signs of collagen depletion and volume loss,” she explains. “In younger patients, Sculptra can enhance a patient’s existing volume, [but] for middle-aged patients who have begun to experience more notable volume loss, Sculptra can be beneficial and may offer different benefits than hyaluronic acid fillers, such as gradual results and a longer duration of effect.”

What sets Sculptra apart from other injectables?

One of the main reasons experts recommend Sculptra to their patients is because, unlike other dermal fillers – which are effective in filling lines, wrinkles and folds, Sculptra addresses a root cause of aging: collagen loss.1-2, 4-5

Sculptra works deep within the skin to help stimulate the natural production of lost collagen and boost previously lost volume.1-2, 4 “By maintaining and building your own natural collagen foundation, Sculptra helps create a collagen framework to smooth facial wrinkles2-3, 6-7” says Dr. Kay. Translation: You’re creating a more youthful look from the inside out.

The bottom line

Sculptra isn’t the same as other fillers—in the best way possible. “My favorite thing about Sculptra is the bioregenerative power of it,” says Dr. Kay, adding that this filler “turns on” the body’s own natural process to stimulate collagen production in the skin.1-2, 4-5

So, if you’re concerned with age-related volume loss due to a lack of collagen, Sculptra may be ideal for you. Discuss the option with an experienced aesthetics practitioner to determine if this treatment is recommended for you and your aesthetic goals.


Indication: Sculptra® (injectable poly-L-lactic acid) is indicated for use in people with healthy immune systems for the correction of shallow to deep nasolabial fold contour deficiencies and other facial wrinkles.

Sculptra should not be used by people that are allergic to any ingredient of the product or have a history of keloid formation or hypertrophic scarring. Safety has not been established in patients who are pregnant, lactating, breastfeeding, or under 18 years of age.

Sculptra has unique injection requirements and should only be used by a trained healthcare practitioner. Contour deficiencies should not be overcorrected because they are expected to gradually improve after treatment.

Sculptra should not be injected into the blood vessels as it may cause vascular occlusion, infarction or embolic phenomena. Use at the site of skin sores, cysts, pimples, rashes, hives or infection should be postponed until healing is complete. Sculptra should not be injected into the red area (vermillion) of the lip or in the peri-orbital area.

The most common side effects after initial treatment include injection site swelling, tenderness, redness, pain, bruising, bleeding, itching and lumps. Other side effects may include small lumps under the skin that are sometimes noticeable when pressing on the treated area. Larger lumps, some with delayed onset with or without inflammation or skin discoloration, have also been reported.

Sculptra is available only through a licensed practitioner. Complete Instructions for Use are available at www.SculptraUSA.com/IFU.

*Clinical study ended at 96 weeks (2 years).


  1. Sculptra®. Instructions for Use. Galderma Laboratories, L.P., 2021.
  2. Stein P, Vitavska O, Kind P, Hoppe W, Wieczorek H, Schürer NY. The biological basis for poly-L-lactic acid-induced augmentation.
    J Dermatol Sci. 2015;78:26-33.
  3. Brandt FS, et al. Investigator global evaluations of efficacy of injectable poly-L-lactic acid versus human collagen in the correction of nasolabial fold wrinkles. Aesthet Surg J. 2011 Jul;31(5):521-8.
  4. Goldberg D, Guana A, Volk A, Daro- Kaftan E. Dermatol Surg. 2013;39(6):915-922.
  5. Donofrio L, Weinkle S. The third dimension in facial rejuvenation: a review. J Cosm Derm. 2006;5:277-283.
  6. Fitzgerald R, Vleggaar D. Dermatol Ther. 2011;24:2.
  7. Narins RS, et al. A randomized study of the efficacy and safety of injectable poly-L-lactic acid versus human-based collagen implant in the treatment of nasolabial fold wrinkles. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2010 Mar;62(3):448 -462.

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