Anti-Aging Treatments: Sculptra vs Other Injectable Fillers


Anti-aging treatments are defined as treatments that are shown to assist in the slowing of, prevention, or actually reversing the effects of the aging process. These treatments include injectable fillers. Combined with a healthy lifestyle, they assist in allowing one to look forever young.

When we are young, our skin is tight and smooth. Contributing to this youthful look is the combination of collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid, which form a firm, spongy network under the skin surface, allowing it to appear firm and smooth. This meshwork loses its integrity with age and with weakness in the support structure, the surface loses it smoothness and wrinkles appear. The injection of cosmetic fillers in the compromised meshwork causes it to plump and fill out the wrinkles resulting in firmer and younger looking skin. The oldest and best-known cosmetic filler is collagen but newer natural and synthetic products are now commonly utilized.

Types Of Injectable Fillers

There are various types of injectable fillers, and after consultation with a dermatologist, one would be able to make an informed decision on the best filler for you, as each individual requires a unique treatment plan.

  • Hyaluronic Acid Fillers

    Hyaluronic acid, found naturally in the skin, dissipates with age. There are various natural and synthetic products on the market with the newest products taking longer to break down. Allergies are very rare and one would only need to repeat treatment every 6-9 months. This group of filler is most commonly used in dermatologic offices today. They can also be dissolved with an injectable enzyme.

  • Polymethylmethacrylate Microspheres (Bellafill)

    This is made from polymethylmethacrylate in bovine collagen, and thus requires a skin test prior to injection to avoid allergic reaction. This type of filler lasts 5 years typically. This product used to be known as Artefill when it was first approved in 2006.

  • Calcium Hydroxylapetite Microspheres (Radiesse)

    This type of filler is formed from calcium hydroxylapetite, which is a substance present in bone. It was approved in 2006, and it still widely used today. This particular filler usually can last up to one year.

Poly – L – Lactic Acid (Sculptra) Filler

SculptraThis is a unique injectable filler, in that its purpose is to stimulate natural collagen production. Sculptra is considered a semi-permanent treatment, as the effect lasts for many months and in some cases has been known to last for years. These are some important facts:

  • It is FDA approved and well researched.

  • It is not toxic and has been used in absorbable sutures for many years.

  • It was initially approved for patients with sunken facial features secondary to HIV.

  • There is little chance of an allergic reaction as it is synthetic and not derived from any animal product. There is also a small risk of granuloma formation, or firm nodules under the skin surface, especially if the post-injection care is not followed implicitly. Massaging the injected areas at home for 5 days after the procedure is imperative in preventing these nodules.

  • Patients need to be patient as the treatment takes place over a number of weeks. Most of the injectable is water and local anesthetic that soon disappears, but the key component is in the process of stimulating the body to produce more of its own collagen. It is typically recommended that Sculptra is done in a series of 2-3 sessions approximately 4-6 weeks apart.

  • Sculptra is injected under the skin on the jawline, temples and cheek and is typically effective for at least 18 months.

Risks Associated With Wrinkle Fillers

There are a few risks associated with wrinkle fillers ranging from mild to severe. Allergic reactions have been known to occur. Some patients develop bumps under the skin that eventually disappear but could remain permanently. A bluish skin discoloration known as the Tyndall effect can last for a few months or years, and is most commonly seen with hyaluronic acid filler, but is treatable. Very rarely does the treatment cause severe side effects such as blindness, nerve paralysis, or skin death, and this usually occurs when not injected by a board certified dermatologst.

Ensure you consult a specialist, such as your dermatologist, when considering any anti-aging treatment, as there are potential reactions/poor outcomes that only a trained professional can best avoid. A specific treatment plan is customized to each patient, as every individual is unique and requires something different. If you are considering injectable filler, make an appointment with your dermatologist for a plan tailored to your needs and goals.