Sculptra in Philadelphia

Top 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Sculptra

1) What is Sculptra Used For?

Sculptra is a unique option of injections used for adding / restoring volume to the face. This bio-stimulator works by forcing your body to create collagen in the treated areas. The main active ingredient in Sculptra is poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA), which is a biocompatible synthetic substance that helps stimulate the body’s natural production of collagen. (Collagen is a protein that provides structure and elasticity to the skin, and its production decreases with age, leading to the appearance of wrinkles, folds, and volume loss.) When Sculptra is injected into the skin, it works gradually over time to stimulate collagen production, resulting in a more youthful and volumized appearance. A sculptra treatment usually includes the entire face (with the exception of lips, under-eyes, and noses) as opposed to other volume-injections that target very specific areas (for example, just the lips.) Because the entire face is being treated, results are usually very natural looking. An added benefit of Sculptra is that the results are also long lasting. Studies show that Sculptra patients are satisfied with their results for 2+ years.

From real life Sculptra patients:

“After I’d lost a lot of weight from Semaglutide, my cheeks were sunken and I felt old and haggard despite feeling so much better about my body. Thanks to Sculptra and my injector, my face now looks healthy and youthful, and I feel like I’m finally owning the best version of myself.” -Lisa, Philadelphia, PA

“I had Sculptra treatments to help balance my upper face with my lower face, it was placed throughout my temples and cheeks, and now my face looks and feels completely smooth and natural. It has given me a more youthful look, and as a bonus my skin seems to be extra glowy too. -Caroline, Merion, PA

I am a 53 year old male and was diagnosed with HIV many years ago after a 1983 blood transfusion. I have continued to remain very healthy, but the many years of medications had caused my face to become very sunken in the cheek area, which is common with HIV infection. My goal was not to look younger but to look healthy and I could not be more pleased with the results! -Brooks, Collingswood, NJ

2) Choosing a Provider

Unlike dermal-fillers such as Juvederm or Restylane, Sculptra injections are irreversible. Choosing a skilled provider is extremely important to insure a safe, flattering outcome. At About Face, Injectors Gina Berger, Lauren Green and Samantha Pozza are all great providers of this treatment.

Here are our recommended factors to consider:

  1. Qualifications and Experience: Look for a provider who is a licensed healthcare professional with specific training and experience in administering injectable treatments. They should have a thorough understanding of facial anatomy and aesthetic techniques.
  2. Bedside Manner: Trust your gut. Does your possible-provider seem confident and comfortable answering your questions? Does the logic used for recommending this treatment make sense to you? If you sense any red flags, move on until you find someone you can trust and vibe with.
  3. Certifications: Check if the provider is certified by relevant professional organizations or boards.
  4. Reputation and Reviews: Research the providers reputation by reading reviews from previous patients. Look for feedback on their skill, professionalism, and patient satisfaction.
  5. Before and After Photos: Ask to see before and after photos of patients who have undergone similar treatments with the provider. This can give you an idea of their aesthetic style and the quality of their work.

From real life Sculptra patients:

Sculptra is only as good as the skill-level and experience of the person injecting you. If your injector rarely uses Sculptra or is a beginner, run! This is not a treatment to be someone’s experiment with. -Danielle, Philadelphia PA

Your injector must have an artistic approach to the face and inject intentionally. This can be a disaster in the wrong hands, but in the right hands it is a game-changer. -January, Philadelphia PA

3) The Consultation

If you are considering Sculptra, or just curious about ways to rejuvenate your face in general, a consultation with a qualified medical professional is a MUST. During a consultation with one of the experts at About Face in Philadelphia, you should expect:

  • Personalized Assessment: Your provider will evaluate your facial structure, skin quality, and areas of concern to determine if Sculptra (or even a combination of treatments) is suitable for you. No aesthetic treatment should ever feel like it is “cookie cutter” and everything should be tailored to YOU.
  • Discussion of Your Goals: This is the time for you to be completely honesy and vulnerable by discussing your desired concerns, outcomes, and what you hope to achieve with Sculptra injections. This will help the provider tailor the treatment plan to your specific needs.
  • Your Medical History: You should be asked about your medical history, including any allergies, previous treatments, medications, and past cosmetic procedures.
  • Explanation of Sculptra Treatment: The provider will explain how Sculptra works; the injection process, potential side effects, and what to expect during and after treatment.
  • Your Recommended Treatment Plan: Based on your goals and assessment, the provider will recommend a treatment plan, including the number of sessions needed, the amount of Sculptra required, and the appropriate timing for everything.
  • Investment: You will receive information about the cost of Sculptra treatment and any financing options available. (About Face Aesthetics offers Care Credit and Cherry for customizable financing.)
  • Preparation and Aftercare: You will be provided with instructions on how to prepare for your Sculptra injections and how to care for your skin afterward to optimize results and minimize potential side effects and/or downtime.
  • Questions and Concerns: This is your opportunity to ask any questions or express any concerns you have about the procedure, recovery, or expected outcomes. Please feel free to voice any question; we have heard it all and nothing seems silly — our job is to make sure you feel confident and comfortable moving forward with the recommended Sculptra gameplan.From real-life Sculptra patients:

The injector allowed me to talk to a team-member that had been treated with Sculptra by her. She went so far as to allow me to feel what the Sculptra would feel like, and I really appreciated the first-hand feedback. -Sarah, Chestnut Hill PA

Research, research, research! If don’t do something today, you can always do it tomorrow. However, if you do it in a hurry or have doubts about the provider, you can’t always undo it. At About Face I felt confident that I was in good hands, and my results reflect that. -Elena, Bryn Mawr PA

4) Getting Sculptra Treatment

It’s treatment day, hurray!

On the day of your Sculptra treatment, your About Face provider will always take “before” photos of all angles to document your baseline.

Your provider may some markings on your skin with a marking pen, and your face will definitely be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized with a medical-grade soap.

At About Face in Philadelphia, our Sculptra providers take extra steps to make sure you are as comfortable as possible during the procedure. Depending on your sensitivity and/or anxiety, we can apply a topical numbing cream, treat the injection sites with lidocaine, and add numbing agents to the Sculptra itself so you’ll get deeper-numbing too. In addition, each injector has their own tricks to help

The provider will then use a needle, cannula or both to inject the Sculptra into the facial areas discussed. The entire process could take as little as 30-minutes, or as much as an hour.

I had a topical numbing cream applied to my face before the injections. I really didn’t feel pain. It was more a matter of the eerie feeling of having needles stuck into your face,  it was more nerves than pain. Also, the actual injections contain a numbing agent so your face gets numb (like at the dentist — same feeling). -Cheryl, Philadelphia PA

5) Pain, Swelling & Bruising

Anytime your skin is being injected, there is a risk of bruising. To prevent this, our injectors always do their best to avoid obvious veins and blood-vessels, but sometimes bruising occurs no matter what precautions are taken. To help minimize the risk of bruising, you should try to avoid bloodthinners (alcohol, aspirin, and fish oil are the most common culprits) for at least 2-days before treatment.

After a Sculptra treatment, it is very possible that you may feel sore for the next day or two. If the pain is bothersome you are welcome to take Aleve, Ibuprofen, or your choice of OTC pain medication. Please know that any discomfort will pass quickly.

Immediately after treatment your face is going to look extra full because of all the volume just added. This can contribute to a “swollen” appearance, but this will dissipate as soon as your body starts to absorb the excess fluid injected and the Sculptra starts to kick-in. How you look right after treatment is NOT what your final results will look like.

I actually loved how full my face looked right after my Sculptra sessions, but I can also admit that my final results were much more natural looking and I love my results. – Lindsey, Media PA

The first few times I did the massage after treatment, it was rough massaging areas that were still sore. I did it anyway after reassurance from my provider that feeling sore was normal, and I wasn’t harming anything by massaging on top of sensitive areas. -Michael, Chestnut Hill PA

The bruising is like Russian Roulette. I had one noticeable bruise after my first Sculptra session, and two miniscule bruises after my second. They were gone in less than a week, and it was well worth it. -Daphne, Philadelphia PA

6) How to Reduce Recovery Time

To reduce recovery time and promote faster healing, try to avoid blood-thinning medications and supplements (as well as alcohol) 1-week prior to your Sculptra procedure.

If you are very selective in who you choose to perform your Sculptra treatment, the needed “recovery time” will also be reduced because they will know how to gently employ precise injection techniques to help minimize trauma to the skin and lessen the risk of bruising, swelling, and other side effects.

Our providers always recommend that you avoid working out for 24-hours post-treatment because this could increase the chance of swelling and bruising.

Finally, a lot of injectors recommend using Arnica Montana which is a homeopathic remedy that may help reduce bruising and swelling associated with injectable treatments. (Some providers recommend taking arnica supplements or using arnica-based topical creams before and after the procedure to aid in recovery.)

Cheat-sheet to help minimize the risk of bruising:

  • Eliminate blood thinners: Aspirin, red wine/alcohol, Vitamin E, fish oil and ginkgo. (Google any supplements you’re taking to see if there are blood thinners included.)
  • Use Sinecch (oral Arnica) before the procedure and during recovery for homeopathic help with bruising and swelling.
  • Ice any possible bruises after the procedure to shrink blood vessels and reduce the risk further under-the-skin bleeding.
  • Alternate massaging with Vitamin K cream and Arnica cream. Ice in between massaging.From real-life Sculptra patients:

    I massage vigorously without regard to bruising and have responded well to every treatment. -Bea, Philadelphia PA

    While still bruised, I use Colorescience Total Eye dabbed on the dark spots to camouflage and promote faster healing. -Lila, Philadelphia PA

7) Downtime

One of the great things about Sculptra is that there is usually no downtime involved. Yes, there will be some immediate swelling due to the volume of liquid getting injected into the treatment area, but someone who didn’t know you wouldn’t be able to tell anything was amiss.

But, there are exceptions to every rule and extreme bruising would be the biggest cause of downtime. (Our Sculptra injectors do everything possible to avoid this from happening, but again, exceptions.)

To help set expectations for the post-Sculptra timeline, here’s a cheat-sheet created by Injector Gina Berger, RN, CANS:

  • Immediate Effects: After the injections, you may experience some swelling, redness, and bruising at the injection sites. These effects are temporary and usually subside within a few days.
  • Massage! Your Sculptra provider will instruct you to massage the treated areas for 5-days following the procedure. (5-5-5 Rule!) Massaging helps distribute the product evenly and minimizes the risk of lumps or nodules forming.
  • Resume Normal Activities: You can usually resume your regular activities immediately after the procedure. However, we recommend waiting a full 24 to 48 hours before resuming strenuous exercise and activities.

From real-life Sculptra patients:

I had no downtime with my procedure. I scheduled all three treatments on Thursday afternoons and then worked from home on Friday. By Monday morning, the only thing left was very light bruising. -James, Philadelphia PA

I did not have any bruising or swelling at the injection sites. I re-applied my makeup and returned to the office right after my visit. Nobody noticed a thing. -Marissa, Philadelphia PA

I would NEVER do this, or any procedure before a big event. That’s just common sense. -Bridget, Philadelphia PA

8) Side Effects & Risks

The most common side effects of any injectables include temporary swelling, redness, bruising, tenderness, itching, or discomfort at the injection sites. These effects typically resolve within a few days to a week.

Directly related to Sculptra would be the risk of Granulomas. Granulomas are small, inflammatory nodules that can develop in response to foreign substances such as Sculptra. While rare, they can occur months to years after treatment. Granulomas may require treatment with corticosteroids or, in severe cases, surgical removal.

From real-life Sculptra patients:

Sculptra is a treatment that has been around for decades, and although the thought of any risk is scary, you just have to remember that the risk of a granuloma happening to you is extremely rare. I was nervous before my first session, but then afterwards I was so happy with the results and how my body responded to Sculptra, I haven’t thought about granulomas since (knocking on wood right now.)  -Tina, Philadelphia PA

Yes, Sculptra has risks and benefits just like ANY cosmetic procedure/ injection that you can receive. Sometimes, bad things happen to good people in medicine and it is not necessarily due to bad product or bad providers. The important thing to remember is that a great provider will stand by you and continue to assist you if you are one of the unfortunate that has an unexpected result. -Sloane, Philadelphia PA

9) How to Get Best Results

After treatment, your provider will educate you on the proper massage technique that needs to be done for 5-days after Sculptra to ensure best results. To help make this as easy as possible to remember, it’s called the 5-5-5 Rule: For 5 days, you will massage your face 5x a day for 5-minutes. You will want to apply some sort of skincare product to your product before each massage to give your skin some “slip”. Our favorite product to use for this is Alastin Regenerative Skin Nectar which enhances the results with its proprietary blend of peptides, antioxidants, and ingredients that help promote collagen and elastin production, reduce inflammation, and improve the overall appearance of the skin.

Bonus Action Items:

  • The night of your treatment, it would be beneficial to sleep with an extra pillow (the extra elevation may help prevent excess swelling)
  • You can try to sleep flat on your back. (In an ideal world, you wouldn’t put extended pressure on the treatment areas.)
  • Trying to stay extra-hydrated by drinking extra water is always going to be beneficial.
  • If it seems like bruising may occur, you can gently those areas.

The most important takeaway though is the 5-5-5 massage; this will help the product settle smoothly into place and better integrate with your tissue.

From real-life Sculptra patients:

The key, according to my research: an experienced injector, massage, dilution of the product, and a good product to massage with. I felt like massaging with Alastin Nectar helped the Sculptra that was under my skin, but also benefited the skin on top of it all.  -Stephanie, South Philadelphia PA

My injector was very good. She really emphasized the massaging. She said it’s VERY VERY VERY important. I noticed a little lump on my left temple but when I got home I sat in front of the mirror and gave the areas a good massage, paying close attention to the lump. I massaged it until it looked smooth. -Daisy, Philadelphia PA

10) When Will I See Results?

With Sculptra, patience and realistic expectations are necessary. Sculptra results are not immediate but rather progressive over time, and at least 2-sessions are needed to achieve the desired results. Your provider will inform you of how many sessions may be needed to achieve your desired results, depending on the amount of volume desired it could be up to 4-sessions.

A general Sculptra timeline: 

  1. Immediate Effects: After the injection, you may notice some immediate volumizing effects due to the saline added to dilute the Sculptra solution. However, these initial results are temporary and will diminish as the swelling subsides.
  2. Initial Improvement: Over the first few days (to weeks following the procedure), you may notice some improvement in the treated areas as any swelling and bruising resolve.
  3. Collagen Production: The primary mechanism of action for Sculptra is the stimulation of collagen production in the skin. Collagen synthesis typically begins around 4 to 6 weeks after treatment and continues for several months.
  4. Gradual Enhancement: As collagen production increases, you’ll notice a gradual improvement in skin texture, volume, and overall appearance. This enhancement occurs over the course of several weeks to months.
  5. Optimal Results: The full benefits of Sculptra treatment are usually evident around 2 to 3 months after the final treatment session. At this point, you’ll likely see significant improvement in volume loss, wrinkles, and skin laxity.
  6. Long-Term Maintenance: Results from Sculptra can last up to two years or more, depending on factors such as your age, skin condition, lifestyle, and the number of treatment sessions you undergo. Some individuals may benefit from occasional touch-up treatments to maintain their desired results.From real-life Sculptra patients:

My injector told me it’d take at least six weeks to start noticing any difference. I actually had four treatments altogether over a period of about 5-6 months. After the first treatment you wouldn’t have known I had anything done apart from the initial swelling, which I was warned about. A year after completing my treatment I couldn’t be happier. I get compliments all the time about how young I look. -Jewels, Queens Village, Philadelphia PA

It takes time to rebuild your face with Sculptra. However, slow and steady is much easier to control so you can see how things progress. -Kitty, Philadelphia PA

12) Was It Worth It?

Interest in Sculptra treatments has skyrocketed in recent months as people seem more drawn to restorative and regenerative medical options, versus trends in the past of adding more and more dermal-filler. Sculptra benefits the face universally, and in the right hands provides a very natural-looking and aesthetically pleasing appearance. It can be used for both men and women, results are long lasting, and it is a thoroughly studied and researched injection treatment.

To decide for yourself if Sculptra treatments would be the right option for you, you can take advantage of our online Virtual Consultation tool here or you can schedule an in-person consultation by clicking here.

From real-life Sculptra patients:

I have been getting Sculptra injections in my face for the past 5-years and the results are nothing short of amazing. It is not instant, nor permanent, nor cheap for that matter, but if your injector REALLY knows what they are doing with it you will fall in love. -Lily, Philadelphia PA

My results have lasted almost two years and it’s time to go back for a maintenance treatment. I know a good facelift would get more drastic results, but I’m just not ready for that yet, and Sculptra is helping me hold-off with confidence for a few more years. -Giselle, Passyunk PA

I have been doing Sculptra for the past five or six years. The results are natural but very flattering, and I’m well aware that it requires more than one treatment to see any result. My initial investment was $3,000 and the upkeep is about $1,500 per year. Definitely worth the upkeep. -Aubrey, Gladwyne PA