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12 Things I Wish I Knew Before Sculptra

  • 3 years ago

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.


7) Downtime

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

Comments (16)

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I had it injected ONCE in my chin-7yrs ago and HATED it from Day one! It has not gone away and caused irregularities in my chin at base that doctors keep poo pooing away saying its my mentalis muscle being mis-shapen...Couldn't be the sculptra after 2yrs...BULL! It wasn't mis-shapen right before the injections and it hasn't changed and only spot she injected it into "7" years ago. I think it calcifies if not mixed right and this Woman is an Assistant Prof. at a prestigious Med. school who injected it. Nice to learn you were the guinea pig. how I get this junk out of my deformed chin is my issue!
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I had sculptra twice in nov - dec 2011, maybe a month or so apart and OMG did my face completely blow up.!!!!! It's two years later exactly and my face is still very full and fuller than before I had it...although it does make me look very young (bc of my fat face and full face) but had I known I would NOT have gotten it. I will say my injector was awesome - thank god for that. I'm just patiently waiting for it to go away. It also made my smile not as wide/big, bc of the fullness in my face I presume... But yes it's been a full two years and I have not seen any signs of it fading at all..... Still going strong...
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Ivan completely relate to this. Had a k own it would make my face SO full/fat, I would not have gotten it. Especially as the mkting material say that it's 'subtle' and usually requires 3 or 4 treatments. (Mine blew up after just 2). I also can't smile as widely - which looks a bit weird!
Please add - Don't allow some plastic surgeon to talk you into Sculptra.
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Hi - I have had two treatments of Sculptra - 4 weeks apart (1.5 vials each time). Eight weeks after my first treatment, I have a small visible nodule under one eye, and my face is already beginning to look very over-filled (not the 'subtle' results I was promised. My doctor is very experienced. I am now going to try and have the lump treated with saline this week. I am left scared about further lumps developing - and also my face blowing up even further. It's an awful situation to be in.
Just to update you, it's a week later and even though the lump has been treated with saline - it has not gone down. New bumps have developed under the other eye. NEVER have this done near your eyes - I wish I had insisted on this more strongly with my doctor.
Charlotterose303 did the doctor start you on doxycycline? I am not a doctor but it is my understanding that you should be put on an antibiotic that is effective against mycoplasma. doxy also has anti inflammatory properties. there is some dispute about if the granulomas are because of possible atypical bacterial infections such as mycoplasma that may be complicating things. please talk to your physician about starting antibiotics. it can not hurt too much and it may help a lot.
Dru - just to update you, I was put on a course if antibiotics and my nodule was injected with a steroid (and has reduced). However, I also have fatigue, muscle and joint pain, watery eyes, excess saliva. Have you heard of these side effects?
yes those things are reported in the manufacturers literature (check their website read the physician information). it identifies problems not seen in their small number of (paid for) clinical trials but have been reported in post marketing reports worldwide. unbelievable.
Unbelievable. And it is marketing as being "the safe natural option" as you "produce your own collagen". Yeah right!
I know how you feel
I think this is all pro sculptra biased. Things they say that are not true. It is the same as vicryl sutures. Well NO it is not . This says that vicryl is 10% PLLA and the majority is the quickly dissolving galactic acid. Panacryl sutures were taken off the market because they cause infection and inflammation (also probably immune dysregulation) The Panacryl was 95% PLLA. Sculpra is 98% PLLA. IT CANT BE REMOVED! There is no long term safety studies. There is a prolonged persistent nature of the particles, many years after the cosmetic result is gone. The frustrated foreign body immune response can cause systemic complications and inflammation. It can make you very ill. IT CANT BE FIXED! Many doctors who say it is safe do not understand the nature of the device or the risks to the patient. They deny complications occur. Google FDA MAUDE database. plug sculptra into the product name search engine and look at the thousands of adverse events reported. Physicians are non mandatory reporters and patients do not know how to report, so the numbers are actually much larger then those reported.
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Dru - you are absolutely right - and the prescribing info is labelled for only use ON label and even when used according to the info, there are horrendous potential side effects. I was not given the prescribing info by the doctor who injected me - I downloaded it myself from the internet. In my opinion it should be considered a criminal offence for any physician not to give full disclosure of any prescribing info to the patient. Every drug given otc by a pharmacist comes with a written insert listing all the potential contraindications. Sculptra should be banned
People with autoimmune disease should avoid collagen filler until there are studies published. Current industry package inserts for some collagens say it is "contraindicated for those with autoimmune diseases." Just do your research and be aware you may trigger some life-long autoimmune problems. It happened to me.
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Bit confused about the autoimmune issue - Sculptra was originally used for AIDS patients. That's autoimmune.
HIV is Human Immunodeficient Virus....a virus that causes AIDS, Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. No relstion to "autoimmune" diseases, which are those in which our own immune system starts targeting something in our own body, such as kidney, skin, joints. Rheaumatoid arthritis is autoimmune because one's own body attacks the joints as if they were an enemy. Bottom line, people with Systemic Lupus or Scleroderma or other autoimmiune diseases might possibly trigger a new or worse condition if one's own body is already producing anitbodies to fight one's own connective tissue or collagen. I have no knowledge of Scuptra re AIDS and the above is my personal opinion, since I have Lupus myself.