The injectable Sculptra has been around since 1999 when it was approved by the FDA in 2004 to treat HIV patients with lipoatrophy, a form of fat loss that causes deep folds and indentations in the face. In 2014, the FDA approved Sculptra Aesthetic for treating wrinkles and folds in the skin for healthy individuals. Since then, it has become an increasingly popular alternative to fillers and neurotoxins.
But what is Sculptra, how much demand is there, who is a good candidate, and what should both beauty business owners and consumers look for in terms of qualifications to inject it?
What Is Sculptra?
The term filler is a catch-all that includes a wide scope of substances that injectors use to shape, contour, and restore volume in the skin that gets lost as we age. Most fillers are formulated with hyaluronic acid (HA) that naturally occurs in the body. But there is another category of biostimulatory fillers, like Sculptra that are finally getting their time in the spotlight.
Sculptra is made of strong polymer called poly-L-lactic acid that once injected jumpstarts the body's natural process of collagen production to reveal a longer-lasting fullness than HA-based fillers. The manufacturer’s website states that results can last up to two years and unlike fillers with HA, Sculptra (and the like) cannot be dissolved.
Has Demand For Sculptra Increased
To get the scoop on the ground, I tapped Pamela Weinberger PA-C who practices in New York and Florida and is the Founding Injector at Plump Cosmetics and Injectables to see whether or not demand has increased for Sculptra.
"Since I began practicing here in Miami, I have noticed that more and more people are asking for the treatment. It is almost always my go to product when treating the area for temples, because of its amazing safety profile in what has been a filler caution zone, shares Weinberger. "I also love performing my famed "Fit Girl BBL" with 10 plus vials of Sculptra because as we know Miami is a city full of fitness and believe it or not sometimes the butt actually becomes less round the more fit we get. I often have many girls looking to fill out their "hip dips" in a natural and subtle way by injecting Sculptra to increase collagen production in that area so they can continue on their fitness and weight loss journey.
Who Is A Good Candidate For Sculptra (And Who Isn’t?)
Just like anything in life, what works for some doesn’t work for others. So, I wanted to know who a good candidate for Sculptra is and who isn’t.
"Most people in their 30s should consider getting Sculptra in the face as collagen induction maintenance and while it will add volume to the face even for someone who has a fuller face its lifting capability when injected in the right areas is extremely effective. Another great area to use is for skin laxity of the neck which can start as early for some as their late 20s, responds Weinberger. As individuals become more glued to their phone/computer the infamous "tech neck" can come to haunt us and Sculptra hyper-diluted in the neck is a nice and natural way to achieve smoothness in the neck and delay signs of aging. The next and most common area for me personally is the "Fit Girl BBL" which injected into areas of the buttock can help improve dimpling, cellulite, and areas of hollowness.
Weinberger goes on to tell me that folks who aren’t good candidates for Sculptra are individuals with severe autoimmune conditions or weakened immune systems. "In addition, anyone who has ever created delayed nodules with a HA filler should consider the possibility that Sculptra can also be at risk, and it will not be able to be dissolved like HA fillers can. Nodularity is increased especially with a compromised immune system, severe autoimmune condition, or a history of delayed nodularity. "
What Qualifications Should Beauty Business Owners Look For When Hiring An Injector
Finding skilled practitioners is essential for any beauty business. Qualified staff ensures patient safety and results that have clients keep coming back. I asked Weinberger what beauty business owners should look for when hiring someone to perform injections.
"The qualifications for who can inject from a legal perspective are different state by state. For example, in the state of Florida where I inject full time it must be a PA, NP, or Physician. However, in the state of New York where I work part time, in addition, RNs can inject under the supervision of PA, NP, Physician, she tells me. "Once we are past the legals, it's great to have someone who does have experience working with their hands in a past medical job. Take for example a PA who works in surgery, or the ER is used to using their hands daily to do surgery and procedures and they will certainly have an advantage when it comes to doing micro injections of extremely specific and thought-out amounts of Botox or filler.
Qualifications Consumers Should Look For
When it comes to consumers looking for a properly trained and skilled injector, Weinberger emphatically tells me, "Research them! Go find their IG/Tiktok: Do you like what they post, do their before and after results seem natural and realistic, are their followers real or fake, which is currently a huge problem for IG right now. Read their yelp/google reviews written by other patients that have been treated by them. You can see a lot of personality through a yelp/google review if they have many of them. Of course, is this person qualified to be injecting? Are they a PA, NP, or Physician? What about their office, it should look like an enjoyable experience to go spend time there being treated if it's in their house/apartment you should be questioning sterility and reliability.
She also suggests checking the injector’s schedule. "Check their schedule, they should work full time. Being a cosmetic injector is a full-time job and a serious skill that takes many years decades to craft. You should not be going to someone who does this in their spare time or as a side gig.
Sculptra isn’t the right choice for everyone, and some patients and injectors seem to tread lightly about the filler since achieving desired results can require a slow and steady approach and it isn’t reversible like fillers with hyaluronic acid. However, it has its place in the field of aesthetics and can be a great option for specific applications and individuals. Furthermore, its uses are expanding into categories like smoothing out cellulite and acne scars. Word amongst industry insiders is that we will continue to hear more about the benefits of Sculptra. So if you aren’t currently offering this injectable to your clients at your location, you may want to explore the possibility in the future.