12 Things I Wish I Knew Before Sculptra
By Sharon at RealSelf on 10 May 2011
In our Sculptra community many people look back on their experiences and say, "I wish I had known..." some information prior to undergoing Sculptra treatment. Here are 12 tips from RealSelf community members that you may find helpful. Feel free to add your own in the comments! --Sharon
1) What is Sculptra Used For?
My cheeks were sunken from weight loss and I was very unhappy. I now have a much fuller face and love it. -lisa_uk
I had it placed around my eyes, temples, above my eyebrows, around my mouth, and around the outside edges of my face... oh, and also my neck! Completely smooth and natural looking. It has given me an uplifted look. -Caroline123
I am a 53 year old male and was diagnosed with HIV many years ago after a 1983 blood transfusion. I have continued to remain very healthy. With the many years of medications my face had become very sunken in the cheek area, which is common with HIV infection. My goal was not to look younger but to look healthy and I could not be more pleased with the results! -Florida9571
2) Choosing a Provider
Sculptra is only as good as the skill-level and experience of the person injecting you. If your doctor only uses Sculptra occasionally or (even worse -- I've actually heard this) sends his nurse to inject you, run! This is not something to play around with. -Keith
Your doctor must have an artistic approach to the face and inject deeply. This can be a disaster in the wrong hands. -Tuesday molly
3) The Consultation
The doctor allowed me to talk on the phone with a patient of his that had Sculptra. He allowed me to feel what the Sculptra would feel like, as he had it under his eyes. -shotgun
Research, research, research! If don't do something today, you can always do it tomorrow. However, if you do it in a hurry, you can't always undo it. -HKKitty
4) Getting Sculptra Treatment
I had anesthetic cream applied to my face before the injections. I really didn't feel pain. It was more a matter of the eerie feeling of having needles stuck into your face and the sound they make. More nerves than pain. Also, the actual injections contain a numbing agent so your face gets numb (like at the dentist -- same feeling). -HKKitty
5) Pain, Swelling & Bruising
It hurt. I've had Botox, Ultra Light Therapy, Microdermabrasion, and three root canals with crowns, and this hurt the most! But next time, I'll insist on a Lortab before the treatment, if my doctor will do it. I will see. If not, I'll still endure it. -Susan7206
The shots to numb my face were the most painful, although tolerable. Initially my right eye swelled up and I couldn't open it. This turned out to be from all the fluid (both numbing solution and Sculptra) and lasted less than a minute. -shotgun
The bruising is like Russian roulette. One of my eyes was black and blue for a month the first time but the other times I was okay. -Randall651
6) How to Reduce Recovery Time
I've had Sculptra injected five times now over a period of five years. I've learned a thing or two about minimizing bruising:
- Eliminate blood thinners: aspirin, red wine/alcohol, Vitamin E, fish oil and ginkgo. Google your supplements for blood thinning action if you are unsure.
- Use Sinecch (oral Arnica) before the procedure and during recovery.
- Have the Sculptra injections separate from other procedures. The first three times I had Sculptra injections I had them simultaneously with Thermage, which heated my dermis and made the bruising ghastly.
- Ice before the procedure to shrink blood vessels and reduce the risk of needle nicking and resultant bleeding.
- Alternate massage with Vitamin K cream and Arnica cream. Ice in between massaging. I massage vigorously without regard to bruising and have responded well to every treatment.
- While still bruised, I use Jane Iredale loose powder dabbed on the dark spots to camouflage.
I had no downtime with my procedure. I scheduled all three treatments on Thursday afternoons and then worked from home on Friday. By Monday morning, swelling was gone with very little bruising left. -Florida9571
I did not have any bruising or swelling at the injection sites. I re-applied my makeup and returned to the office right after my visit. Nobody noticed a thing. -shotgun
NEVER do any procedure before a big event. That's just common sense. -HKKitty
8) Side Effects & Risks
I hate the side effects of Sculptra. I had injections done under both eyes, first in November 2007 and again in January 2008. After the first injection, I developed a pea-sized lump under my left eye. My dermatologist told me it would go away. I had the second injection performed and now have large lumps under my left eye and a medium lump under my right eye. By the way, I was extremely diligent in massaging the injection sites. I followed the aftercare instructions and I still had horrible side effects! -Sandchic
This is an implant; it's not like other fillers. The truth is that granulomas form and oftentimes they can be seen. While the benefits only last two years, the granulomas are forever unless you excise them. This is not easy to do without causing more damage. -kooie
Yes, Sculptra has risks and benefits just like ANY cosmetic procedure/implant that you can receive. Sometimes, bad things happen to good people in medicine and it is not necessarily due to bad product or bad doctors. The important thing to remember is that a great physician will stand by you and continue to assist you if you are one of the unfortunate that has an unexpected result. -paulcinatl
9) How to Avoid Lumps
My Sculptra was mixed 48 hours beforehand and diluted with 7cc of saline. This is very important to reduce the risk of bumps. -Tuesday molly
The key, according to my research: an experienced injector, massage, dilution of the product, and facial placement. Sculptra should not be used in shallow muscular areas. The eyes are a no-no area. -Susan7206
10) How to Get Rid of Lumps
My doctor was very good. He really emphasized the massaging. He says it's VERY VERY VERY important. I noticed a little lump on my left temple but when I got home I sat in front of the mirror and gave the areas a good massage, paying close attention to the lump. I massaged it until I felt it looked smooth. -daisy78
I have large lumps under my left eye and a medium lump under my right eye. After numerous V-beam laser treatments failed, I finally decided to have a facial plastic surgeon perform a subcision procedure. I had two subcision procedures performed four weeks apart, and there has been a significant amount of change in the bump size. -Sandchic
11) When Will I See Results?
My surgeon told me it'd take at least six weeks to start noticing any difference. I actually had four treatments altogether over a period of about 5-6 months. After the first treatment you wouldn't have known I had anything done apart from the initial swelling, which I was warned about. A year after completing my treatment I couldn't be happier. I get compliments all the time about how young I look. -Jules32
It take time to rebuild your face with Sculptra. However, slow and steady is much easier to control. Better to do several treatments so you can see how things progress. -HKKitty
12) Was It Worth It?
I have been getting these injections in my face and around my eyes since 2001 and the results are nothing short of amazing. It is not instant, or permanent, or cheap for that matter, but if your doctor REALLY knows what he's doing with it you will fall in love. -Keith
I'm not sure I would use Sculptra again -- $800 for one vial is expensive. I would probably use another product if I had to do it over again. I do notice less hollowness in my cheek area, but that is about it. -Honest1
My results have lasted almost two years and it's time to go back. A good facelift is quite a bit better and lasts much longer and ends up being cheaper, if you have enough hair to cover the scars... which I do not. -Randall651
I have been doing Sculptra for the past five or six years. The results are subtle, so it does require more than one treatment to see any result. My initial investment was $2,000 and the upkeep is about $600 per year. Definitely worth the upkeep. -bionicwoman