As we age, we lose one teaspoon of collagen in our face every year. Collagen is the main protein in our skin that gives us a youthful look. By the age of 35, we have lost 15% of our facial collagen, by the age of 45 you can expect to have lost 25% of your facial collagen and by the age of 55, we have lost 35% of our collagen. Collagen makes up around 75% of your skin and replacing what we have lost is a key component to a younger-looking countenance.
There are many anti-aging procedures that can help stimulate the body to produce new collagen, but there are few than can efficiently create it in the exact places we need it like Sculptra can. Sculptra, an FDA-approved cosmetic medication, consists of poly-L-lactic acid and is injected into the skin in areas where collagen loss is the most pronounced. It creates a scaffolding that our own collagen can attach to and becomes Type 1 collagen. This new collagen matrix, strategically placed by a skilled cosmetic injector, can lift the face and also improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and laxity.
As with other cosmetic procedures that promise to turn back the hands of time, we asked Dr. Norris at Nicole Norris MD Medical Spa in Peru, Illinois to weigh in on Sculptra and its anti-aging effects.
Do you use Sculptra at your medical spa and how exactly does it work? “Sculptra is an FDA- approved injectable collagen biostimulator that works deep in the skin to improve its inner structure. Sometimes I describe it to my patients as a fertilizer for collagen production. It is not a filler and it always gives a natural result. I like to use it in key areas of the face where collagen loss is most apparent like the cheeks, temples, lower face and jaw line. It does a great job of not only lifting sagging areas of the face, but also improving fine lines and the overall skin appearance. Often patients comment on their post-Sculptra glowing skin.”
How many treatments are needed and when can a person expect to see results? “The active ingredient in Sculptra, poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA) is a plant-based material proven safe for decades and is mixed with sterile water. I like to inject 1-2 vials at a time and recommend 1 vial for every decade of life. For some patients it may take 4 sessions or up to 6 vials of Sculptra to get the correction that they need. I usually wait 8 weeks between sessions and tell patients they will not see a result until at least 8-12 weeks after each treatment. Our own bodies create collagen slowly, and unfortunately, the older we are, the slower the process.”
Are there side effects and who is a good candidate? “Sculptra is typically injected into areas of the face with a needle, so there is a risk of bruising with the procedure. If a patient is allergic to suture material, it is not a good idea to have Sculptra, as PLLA is often found in the same material used to sew cuts in the skin. Immediately after having Sculptra placed in the skin, there is some swelling of the areas injected because of the sterile water component. This puffy look resolves in a day or two, but any bruising can take 10-14 days to resolve. Anyone who is aging and is bothered by the appearance of falling cheeks, jowls, and overall loss of a youthful appearance is a good candidate. Patients who have autoimmune disorders or who are ill are not good candidates as their bodies will likely not produce the collagen expected.”
How long will the results last? “The clinical studies on Sculptra were carried out for two years and 100% of patients were happy with their results at 24 months. However, we know that Sculptra creates Type 1 collagen which has been shown to last 5-10 years depending on a person’s habits like smoking and sun exposure. Sculptra gives natural looking results that gradually reveal themselves. It is a great anti-aging procedure on its own or used in conjunction with other anti-aging procedures (i.e. peels, lasers, microneedling), dermal fillers or Botox. I strongly encourage my patients to do procedures that replace the collagen that they are losing every year. This is the best way to look naturally rejuvenated, prevent the signs of aging, and not need as much filler or cosmetic surgery procedures down the road.”
If you are interested in learning more about Sculptra or other anti-aging procedures, call Nicole Norris MD Medical Spa for your personal consultation with Dr. Norris at 815-780-8264 or follow them on Instagram or Facebook.