Sculptra® - Putting Your Face in Better Balance
By Dr. Matthew Wolpoe, Billings Clinic Facial Plastics
Over the past several years there has been a growing realization in the field of aesthetic medicine that adding volume is an essential component of rejuvenation of the aging face. Volume replacement can go a long way to improving fine lines, wrinkles as well as loose and sagging skin. There are two ways to approach this. The first is what I refer to as the spot fill approach. This is when someone comes into my office and has a fairly specific complaint and wants really just to address this area, or the patient that has a few areas but just wants to have a single, relatively quick procedure. The second group of patients seeks a more global improvement in their faces. In these situations, sometimes requiring more than one appointment, we augment multiple areas in a subtle manner to put their faces in better balance.
Sculptra® which is composed of poly-l-lactic acid is ideal for this. Lactic acid is a substance that your body makes when your muscles fatigue. It turns out when you string a bunch of these molecules together the strands create targeted inflammation which induces the body to make its own collagen. I first used Sculptra® several years ago when it was new on the market and only used to treat patients with HIV associated lipoatrophy. This is a process where patients who have been HIV positive for a prolonged period of time begin to lose large amounts of subcutaneous fat. This makes the patient look prematurely aged and can have a big effect on self-esteem. This is especially true for folks here in Montana who often come from smaller towns and are very self-conscious in a community where they are known by all their neighbors. Sculptra® was an incredible development for these patients and I was gratified to be able to help some of them improve their overall appearance and self-confidence.
Several years later Aventis , the manufacturer of Sculptra® was able to get approval to use this product for cosmetic purposes. Although it is extremely effective, since Sculptra® induces the body to make its own collagen, the patient usually requires 3 sessions over about a 9-week period for full efficacy. While this is a larger financial and time commitment than a typical filler, we are able to target multiple areas and give the patient improvement that lasts 2 years and often longer. While the results of Sculptra® can be seen within a few weeks, maximal improvement is reached at about the 6 month mark. The injections are done with relatively small needles and the product is pre-mixed with lidocaine, both of which reduce the overall discomfort of treatment sessions. Patients typically emerge from a series of Sculptra® with a face that looks better but friends and family will have a hard time pinpointing exactly what has changed.
Dr. Matthew Wolpoe is Billings Clinic’s Facial Plastics and Reconstructive Surgeon. He brings special expertise to the department because he is board certified by the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the American Board of Otolaryngology (Ear, Nose, Throat).