Fat Transfer Vs Sculptra

I am a 43-year-old triathlete looking to replenish volume to my face. After consulting with several plastic surgeons, most recommended fat transfer and one recommended Sculptra. I am hesitant to have fat transfer because of its unpredictability, high cost, and the fact I don’t seem to retain fat very well on my face or body.

I am considering Sculptra (realizing it is temporary and would require touch-ups), as I have noticed several reputable plastic surgeons advertising it. My concern with Sculptra is the lumps it has been known to cause. Any comments or opinions on Sculptra would be very helpful. 

Doctor Answers 7

Fat transfer versus Sculptra

Today, we have many choices for facial fillers. Sculptura was developed as a filler to treat overall facial wasting that occurs with age due to loss of fat and other supporting tissue and has just been approved by the FDA for cosmetic usage. It works well to improve contours of the cheeks and improve hollowing around the eyes. Unlike other fillers such as Juvederm made from hyaluronic acid which immediately plumps and fills, Sculptura, stimulates your own tissues to produce collagen so the results improve over several months. Typically 2-3 treatments spaced several weeks apart will provide the optimum improvement and results are thought to last up to 2 years.

Fat transfers can soften the lines around your mouth using your own fat from a different area of your body (typically your hips, buttocks, or abdomen). It can be used to plump lips, fill in cheeks and improve facial contours. Since it is your own fat you can't be allergic to it and last longer than other fillers- about 50% of the fat stays permanently where it was injected

New York Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Sculptra vs fat grafting

For non-surgical volumizing of the face, I would certainly recommend Sculptra.  After having used Sculptra in many patients, I have been impressed with it's volumizing abilities through the formation of collagen.  Now, I tend to reserve fat grafting in the face for patients where I am already considering a separate surgical consideration such as eyelids or facelift.
Done properly, both fat grafting and Sculptra can be done with very natural looking results and without developing lumps or bumps.

Young R. Cho, MD, PhD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

Fat Transfer Vs Sculptra

Depending on the area in the face, there are a number of excellent options including fat transfer, sculptra, and voluma to replenish volume in the face. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. Without photos, the best recommendation is to consult with three experienced and expert board certified plastic surgeons.

Kris M. Reddy, MD, FACS
West Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Sculptra vs. Fat Transfer for volume on face

Truly rejuvenation of the face comes with re-inflating the balloon, i.e. our face. Replenishing volume that we used to have should be performed with fillers that will give you the most even result, with minimal bumps or lumps. Sculptra is made of PLLA (poly-L-lactic acid) requires typically 3 sessions, 4-6 weeks apart and works by stimulating your own collagen as PLLA gets reabsorbed almost completely in 2 weeks and gets replaced by your own collagen over time. In the early days of Sculptra where the dilution protocol was not uniform, lumps or bumps are more common. With the current dilution protocol with the FDA approval for cosmetic usage, lumps or bumps are exceedingly rare among experienced Sculptra physician injectors. There may be more versatility with Sculptra as there is always opportunity to make the subtlest augmentation adjustment in case there is any asymmetry. Fat transfer is a fine option; however, even in the best hands, there could be issues with lumpiness or uneven results as the fat transplant may not be evenly reabsorbed underneath the skin.

William Ting, MD
Bay Area Dermatologic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Fat Transfer and Sculptra can work well, but both can cause problems

Fat transfer typically leads to partial long-term fill. Some of the fat get reasbsorbed by your body and some will survive. So there may not be a uniform contour by the time all is said and done. Sculptra can also lead to bumpiness, but i have found it to be much less than fat, particularly if the Sculptra is diluted and injected a bit deeper into the tissue.

David W. Kim, MD
Bay Area Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 37 reviews

Fat transfer versus injectable fillers

Sculptra can produce lumps and there is no consistent way to predict or prevent their occurence. Sculptra can be quite costly to achieve significant volume correction. It does offer convenience and that is its primary advantage.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 82 reviews

Fillers for volume

You may not have enough donor fat for fat injections if you are an athlete. Sculptra and Fat can leave lumps, but the lumps fro Sculptra are usually not visible. You will feel them when you touch the skin from the outside, or push your tongue against the cheek from the inside. Sculptra does take several sessions and it takes a while for your body to produce collagen as a response to the material. Radiesse is an immediate filler and can replace significant volume losses well but does disappear in about 10 months to a year or more.

Ronald Shelton, MD
Manhattan Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 38 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.