You’re ready to fight the lines and wrinkles on your face, but with so many treatments now available, you’re not sure which to choose. A neuromodulator? A dermal filler? At Mack Center Cosmetic Surgery in Tampa, FL, we recommend you consider something a little different: Sculptra, a non-invasive injectable that naturally lifts and plumps the skin.
Where Can You Use Sculptra?
The areas most commonly treated with this injectable include the jowls, lower face, mid-cheek region, and temples. Smooth, even distribution can be achieved in each of these areas to plump hollows and depressions, erase fine lines, and restore contours. Let’s examine each area a little more closely to understand the results you can expect.
A Solution to Jowling
Jowls develop because our faces lose fat as we age. Essentially, all the volume and plumpness we enjoy in our younger years drops and settles around the jawline. This creates jowling, wherein tissues accumulate and blur our natural contours.
Some patients ask if this can be fixed with facial exercises, and unfortunately, the answer is always no. Exercises target muscles, and jowls are not the result of sagging muscles. Instead, we can use Sculptra to restore lost volume and give your face a more sculpted appearance.
Again, we’re pointing to the hands of time as the culprits of lower face sag. The human face is heart-shaped for much of our lives, but as we grow older, that heart begins to look more like a box. Nasolabial folds – the lines that run from your nose to your mouth – develop when cheek pads migrate down. We can correct this with targeted injections of Sculptra, which tighten and tone skin to restore a smooth, glossy sheen.
For many patients, the cheeks are the first places they notice a loss of volume. Studies confirm that by age 35, many people have already lost 10% of their facial fat in this region. Without that fat, cheeks look flatter and less defined – effects that can make you look older than you are.
By injecting right on the cheekbone, well below the skin’s surface, we’re able to restore cheek volume in a very precise way. We then massage the treated area to ensure the serum is evenly distributed. This improves facial symmetry, allows the serum to softly skim cheekbones, and lifts cheek pads to refresh your whole face.
This area is often overlooked as we concentrate on more prominent features like our eyes and cheeks. But the temples also fall victim to volume loss and, with time, can look hollow. This effect only becomes more accentuated as the skin loses its natural elasticity. Injecting Sculptra into the temples’ deep planes can markedly improve facial shape.
What Is This Treatment?
This FDA-approved injectable has been used around the world since 1999. Formulated with poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA), it naturally creates structure and framework in the face. PLLA is recognized as a bio-stimulatory dermal filler, meaning it stimulates the body to produce new collagen. Treatment effects, therefore, develop gradually over several months, producing natural results without the “I just had work done” look.
Why We Need Collagen
There’s a reason we naturally produce collagen: it is the main structural protein in various connective tissues, including the dermis, or middle layer of skin. The dermis gives strength and elasticity to the skin as a whole through an interwoven network of collagen and elastin fibers. These proteins are, in fact, responsible for the way your skin shapes and molds to your face.
But collagen synthesis wanes, a fact we can attribute to many different causes. Sun exposure, poor nutrition, and unchecked stress all contribute to the breakdown of this protein. The key to skin health, therefore, is restoring collagen to stable levels, and Sculptra achieves this. This is the mechanism behind its effects, which include:
- Smoother folds
- Reduced appearance of lines and wrinkles
- Improved facial fullness
This Treatment Is Unique
Yes, it’s safe to say this treatment works in a unique way compared to other injectables. Many dermal fillers are made of hyaluronic acid (HA), a naturally-occurring sugar found throughout the body. HA is safe, effective, and provides immediate plumping. It is also easily dissolved, meaning the effects of most fillers last less than a full year.
PLLA, a synthetic material used for years in dissolvable stitches and soft tissue implants, is processed much more slowly. Results are long-lasting and, for some patients, persist more than two years. In clinical studies, 80% of patients reported feeling satisfied with their results 25 months after treatment. And by increasing collagen levels, PLLA also restores your skin’s unique structure. For this reason, many call it the liquid facelift.
The trade-off is delayed gratification; results take one to three months to develop, but many consider this desirable because they don’t want to leave work Thursday looking one way and return Friday looking another. One study confirms that patients find the benefits of Sculptra to be well worth the wait. They reported the following effects after completing treatment:
- More confidence
- Increased productivity
- A heightened sense of control
- Greater comfort with others
- Healthier eating
- Increased happiness when looking in the mirror
How Your Skin Changes after Treatment
This injectable does more than smooth wrinkles and redefine facial edges. One of the most unexpected changes it brings is improved skin texture. In the dermis, collagen helps create a strong structure of cells called fibroblasts. New cells can grow upon these, therefore replacing dead skin cells that mar your complexion. This can lead to a softer, smoother texture.
Elastin is a key component of the extracellular matrix (ECM), the underlying scaffolding that supports the skin. You can think of the ECM as the bedrock upon which your skin sits – like the foundation of a building. And just as a building can become compromised as the foundation starts to crumble, your skin diminishes in health as elastin production drops (with age, of course).
The good news is that collagen and elastin work hand-in-hand; as one increases, so too does the other. Because this treatment ramps up collagen production, you’ll also enjoy higher levels of elastin, a protein that allows the skin to resume its shape after stretching or contracting. Your appearance will look fresher, and your skin will bounce youthfully with every move you make.
The third component in the ECM, along with collagen and elastin, is hyaluronic acid (HA). This sugar attracts and holds moisture, meaning it naturally plumps skin. Hydrated skin also looks healthier than that which lacks moisture; it reflects light to produce that inner glow we try so hard to achieve. Finally, cosmetics sink more softly into hydrated skin, creating a smooth canvas that looks flawless.
We often talk about lines and wrinkles developing with age, but another event can also contribute to a tired appearance: skin thinning. The body is designed to consistently heal and renew itself, and the skin is part of this system. It sheds and replaces cells every 30 days or so but, as you might have guessed, this process slows over time. The end result is thinner skin that doesn’t regenerate as well or as quickly as it once did.
Collagen helps your skin retain its natural strength. This means thicker, stronger tissues that are more resistant to wrinkles and folds – qualities that continue as long as collagen synthesis remains high.
It’s common to acquire spots on the face, whether from sun exposure, acne scars, or other skin issues. The amino acids contained within collagen can minimize these spots and give you a more even complexion – like erasing a chalkboard and starting over.
We’ll start your session by applying a topical numbing cream to the treatment site(s). This makes for a completely comfortable therapy without the risks of surgery; likewise, no downtime is required after treatment.
The serum is then injected under your skin, and as we mentioned earlier, we’ll massage the treatment site to shape and distribute the PLLA. Each session lasts about an hour, and you’re free to return to your normal schedule afterward. Many patients schedule their appointments before work, during lunch hours, or between running errands.
You can prepare for treatment by avoiding any substance that may thin your blood, including:
- Fish oil supplements
- Certain oral vitamins, including vitamin E
On the day of treatment, you should arrive wearing comfortable clothes and with your hair pulled back. Also let us know if you’re experiencing any concerns like acne breakouts, cold sores, or dermal infections; we may recommend you delay treatment in these cases.
After Treatment Care
This is a relatively low-maintenance therapy that doesn’t require much in the way of pre- or post-treatment care. You will, however, want to follow the 5-5-5 rule; this means massaging the treated area for five minutes at a time, five times a day, for five days after treatment. Ensure your hands and face are clean before your rub; you don’t want to push oil, dirt, or make-up into your skin.
Also, avoid sun and tanning bed exposure and wear a daily sunscreen whether you play to be inside or out. You can apply cosmetics several hours after treatment, and likewise, exercise can also be resumed the day of your appointment.
Your Treatment Plan
We’ll craft a customized treatment plan based on your treatment goals. For most patients, we recommend a series of three treatments administered over a few months. The number of injections you receive at each session will vary, depending on the number of spots we treat and the severity of your concerns. We can cover this in greater detail during your consultation appointment.
We want to circle back to this topic for a moment because it’s an important one. Some injectables work by relaxing targeted facial muscles in a way that stops wrinkles from showing; others fill spaces in the ECM to diminish lines and wrinkles.
Sculptra moves in a completely different direction by stimulating collagen production. Your results will therefore be very natural; rather than enhancing your appearance, we restore what was lost so you look like yourself 10 or 15 years ago. And these results will last as long as you continue treatment.
The Liquid Facelift
If you thought up to this point surgery was the only way to rejuvenate your appearance, we’re happy to report you’re wrong. Sculptra stimulates collagen production, meaning it addresses the root cause of wrinkles, lines, and sags. You can expect your facial contours to be naturally restored, and your appearance will similarly look subtly fresher. Schedule your consultation today by calling Mack Center Cosmetic Surgery in Tampa, FL.