Sculptra Side Effects

I like the volume I've gained with three sessions of Sculptra but now I'm really scared about the long-term side effects. How long has Sculptra been around and what can be expected? Is it a smart choice? I've heard such a mixed review

Doctor Answers 21

Sculptra belongs in the trash not your face

In 2000, at the World Congress of Dermatology in Paris, Pierre Andre reported cystic, nodular, and granulomatous lesions when this agent was used in individuals with normal immune functioning (non-HIV+ patients). Additionally, long-term allergic reactions have since been described, which are very difficult to manage. In another report concerning its aesthetic use in 100 patients with normal immune functioning, 20% of the treated individuals experienced significant adverse reactions. Obviously, this product is not immunologically inert as the manufacturer stated. Foreign body granulomas are being seen with this agent in HIV-positive as well as immunocompetent patients.
While the manufacturer as well as investigators claim this product produces neocollagenesis or new collagen this is not what is seen under the microscope. On biopsy one sees a severe immune reaction to the product.


Beverly Hills Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

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Sculptra risks include hematoma, infection, skin necrosis & granuloma

Risks include hematoma or blood pooling beneath the skin, and although rare, infection and necrosis or skin loss is possible.

The greatest risk occurs when dermal fillers are injected by someone who is not properly qualified to perform injections.

Semi-permanent and permanent fillers may carry a risk of clumping (the particles form a granuloma or lump that can be felt or seen beneath the skin), which can occur months later. Particles may also migrate or displace from the injection site.

Injection of an anti-inflammatory may help to improve minor clumps or swelling. More significant conditions of clumping or granuloma may require surgery.

Robert A. Weiss, MD
Baltimore Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Sculptra is Poly Lactic Acid and has been used in surgery for many decades

Sculptra is actually the powder form of a suture, Vicryl, that has been used in surgery for many years without significant problems. The body absorbs the powder and eventually turns it into carbon dioxide and water. The benefit of Sculptra is that during this inflammation to degrade the Sculptra collagen formation is being carried out by the body in a scar like reaction. It is this collagen that creates the new volume. With this inflammation there is the risk of infection. However the benefit of having the inflammation to create the collagen in a scar form is paradoxically what can lead to the infection. If you didn't have this inflammation you wouldn't have as much collagen formation.

In my opinion, Sculptra is most beneficial for the person who does not have a lot of fat in the rest of the body to undergo fat injections and would like some more volume in the face. It is also useful in the person who has only a little fat to offer for fat injections. In this particular situation I would use sculptra in the areas that can tolerate it more such as the cheeks, mouth area, temples, forehead and jawline areas and reserve fat injections for the areas closer to the lips and around the eyes. It is also good to use Sculptra for people who don't want the invasiveness of fat injections where you have the need to harvest the fat from somewhere else. Sculptra, in general, is less of a process than fat injections. But with the negatives that come with Sculptra, there is a lot of positives for people in these situations above.

From a long term standpoint, once the Sculptra is dissolved there should not be long terms issues. If a person somehow does not degrade the Sculptra effectively there could be infections but there are ways to treat these issues without a lot of problems. Silicone injections and Artecoll injections present more long term issues in my opinion.

Philip Young, MD
Bellevue Facial Plastic Surgeon
3.5 out of 5 stars 35 reviews

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Sculptra side effects

Thank you for your question.

Although our experience in the US has only been for a couple of years, we do have good data sharing the experience of our European physicians for almost 10 years.

The most commonly cited delayed complication is the development of nodules under the skin. These can be quite small or as big as the tip of your finger. They represent a "clumping" of the product and your body's reaction to it.

This can be treated by breaking it up with a needle or injecting it with a steroid. Worse case scenario, your doctor may have to numb your skin and make a small nick to remove it. I have only seen this once in over 3 years of experience.

The good news is you are happy with your result and, in all likelihood, will not have any problems. I still use Sculptra as a volume enhancer in the face and hands and have been quite happy with the results.

Jeffrey Kenkel, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Sculptra longtem effects

Sculptra is a highly useful product to help add volume to the face.  The material is similar to material we have used for disolvable sutures for >40 years.  When the body breaks down the product it makes collagen.  It is unlikely to cause longterm effects as long as you have not had any issues with granulomas.

Dr. S' 5 Sculptra tips

Great question!
1.    Sculptra is an injectable (Poly-L-lactic-acid).  It works gradually to replace loss collagen by stimulating collagen synthesis over a 3-6 week period of time.
2.    Unlike Restylane and Juvederm, it works gradually.  Like planting grass seeds that take weeks to grow, we are planting seeds of Sculptra which will grow collagen which increases volume for facial rejuvenation.
3.    Sculptra has developed a bit of a bad reputation I the past 10yrs because it was used incorrectly by untrained people in the wrong areas of the face.
4.    Used in the right hands, sculptra is an excellent product to fill in hollows in the temples, under the cheeks and along the jaw line in a way that can complement your restylane and juvederm injections
5.    Make sure you go to a qualified experienced fully trained sculptra injector that is board certified to insure the best result with the least chance of complications.
Hope this helps....good luck!  Dr. Steinbrech

Sculptra is Safe

Sculptra Aesthetic has been FDA approved and on the market for the past 8 years. When injected by a skilled dermatologist, it can give fabulous, natural looking results. It is probably the "safest" of all of the injectables because it is stimulating your own body's production of collagen. There is nothing artificial or foreign injected. The most common potential side effects can be related to the injection procedure itself and include: redness, bruising, swelling, infection and/or mild discomfort during the injection. A very rare potential delayed side effect that has been reported is the appearance of small bumps under the skin. These Sculptra nodules are small bumps that may or may not be visible and tend to happen several months after treatment. They may go away on their own or need to be treated. They were more common in the past with more concentrated solutions, but are now uncommon with the dilutions that are currently used.

Mary Hurley, MD
Dallas Dermatologist
4.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Sculptra long-term safety

Scuptra is very similar to the material used in under-the-skin sutures for decades. These sutures are left in the skin until they dissolve naturally over a period of about a year, leaving behind structural proteins that have healed the wound that was in the skin. Similarily, the beads in Sculptra are left where injected until they dissolve completely over a period of about two years, leaving behind fresh collagen and other proteins native to your own skin and manufactured by your own fibroblasts. When the product first came out, it was injected at higher concentrations and nodules or granulomas were more common. With more dilute concentrations, and avoiding certain areas of the face,mI have not seen nodules forming anymore. There are no severe long-term results that have emerged with either the sutures or Sculptra.  So go easy on yourself: you have had a good result and you need not be concerned about negative long-term effects!

Sheryl D. Clark, MD
New York Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

Sculptra Side Effects

As you see through personal experience, after three sessions of Sculptra you have gained the volume in your face that you want.  Sculptra has been around for many years but the dilutions and techniques for injections have changed over time.  The main side effect described is granuloma formation.  Valeant which now owns Sculptra states that it was because of improper dilution and technique many years ago.  It is always important to find a board certified dermatologist with years of experience in cosmetic dermatology and injectables for these procedures.  The rule of 5's applies to Sculptra - massage the treated area five times a day for five minutes for five days - to best avoid granuloma formation.  Please let me know what happens.

Sculptra side effects and safety

Of all of the fillers I have used, Sculptra provides very natural, long lasting results that my patients really appreciate. For patients who need to build back their bone structure/cheek bones/volume they've lost with age, Sculptra does a beautiful job.  That being said, Sculptra injections are very technique dependent, so it's absolutely essential that you seek out a dermatologist or plastic surgeon who has experience injecting this product.  Sculptra nodules are not uncommon, but almost all patients who develop these nodules can only FEEL them, and you can't actually SEE them.  They are temporary, just as the filler itself is temporary.  So, in summary, YES sculptra has side effects, but most of my patients feel that its unique properties are well worth those risks.

Whitney Bowe, MD
New York Dermatologic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.