Sculptra® is a filler material that has been approved by the FDA to treat the progressive loss of facial fat that accompanies aging. Loss of facial fat is seen on most HIV patients, and Sculptra® was approved for use in these patients, but it is used "off-label" for cosmetic purposes in patients who are not HIV positive. Loss of facial fat results in narrowing of the face causing sunken cheeks and temple areas, and deepening of folds beneath the mouth and between the nose and upper lips. A skin test is unnecessary before an injection of Sculptra®. Sculptra® is injected into the deep layers of the skin, rather than beneath it.
Sculptra® injections do not produce an immediate thickening of the skin. At the first treatment, it may appear that Sculptra® worked immediately because of swelling from the injections and saline that is used to dilute Sculptra®. A few days following the treatment, when swelling goes down and saline is absorbed by the body, patients frequently look the way they did before the treatment. Sculptra® takes time to gradually correct the depression in the skin. Multiple sessions are often required and patients with severe facial fat loss may require 3 to 6 treatments over the course of several months. In one study there was an increase in skin thickness that persisted for two years.
Side effects of Sculptra® may include delayed appearance of small bumps under the skin in the treated area, bleeding, tenderness or discomfort. Redness, bruising, or swelling may occur at the site of injection.