Fast facts


  • Sculptra is an injectable cosmetic filler that can be used to restore facial volume lost due to aging or illness.
  • It contains poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA), a biocompatible synthetic substance that stimulates collagen production.
  • It can be used to treat deep lines, creases, and folds to give a more youthful appearance.
  • It’s also used to treat facial fat loss (lipoatrophy) in people living with HIV.


  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Sculptra in 2004 for restoration following lipoatrophy for people with HIV.
  • In 2009, the FDA approved it under the brand name Sculptra Aesthetic for the treatment of deep facial wrinkles and folds for people with healthy immune systems.
  • It may cause swelling, redness, pain, and bruising at the injection site. Lumps under the skin and discoloration have also been reported.


  • The procedure is performed in-office by a trained provider.
  • No pretesting is required for Sculptra treatments.
  • You can return to your normal activities immediately after treatment.
  • There is no special preparation required.


  • The cost per vial of Sculptra was $773 in 2016.


  • Some results can be seen after just one treatment, but full results take a few weeks.
  • The average treatment regimen consists of three injections over the course of three or four months.
  • Results can last up to two years.

Sculptra is an injectable dermal filler that has been around since 1999. It was first approved by the FDA in 2004 to treat lipoatrophy in people living with HIV. Lipoatrophy causes facial fat loss that results in sunken cheeks and deep folds and indentations on the face.

In 2014, the FDA approved Sculptra Aesthetic for treating wrinkles and folds on the face to give a more youthful appearance.

The main ingredient in Sculptra is poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA). It’s classified as a collagen stimulator that provides long-lasting, natural-looking results that can last up to two years.

Sculptra is safe and effective but isn’t recommended for people with allergies to any of its ingredients or for those with medical conditions that cause irregular scarring.

The cost of Sculptra depends on several factors, including:

  • amount of enhancing or correction necessary to achieve the desired result
  • number of treatment visits required
  • geographic location
  • number of vials of Sculptra used
  • discounts or special offers

The average cost of Sculptra per vial was $773 in 2016, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. The Sculptra website lists the average total treatment cost as ranging from $1,500 to $3,500, depending on those factors and other factors.

Sculptra Aesthetic and other dermal fillers aren’t covered by health insurance. However, in 2010, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services made the decision to cover the cost of Sculptra for people living with HIV who have facial lipodystrophy syndrome (of which lipoatrophy is one type) and also experience depression.

Most plastic surgeons offer financing plans, and many also offer coupons or rebates from the makers of Sculptra.

Sculptra is injected into the skin to diminish facial wrinkles. It contains PLLA, which acts as a collagen stimulator, helping to gradually restore fullness to facial wrinkles and folds. This results in a softer and more youthful appearance.

You may notice immediate results, but it can take a few months to see the full results of your treatment.

Your Sculptra specialist will work with you to determine the number of treatment sessions needed to achieve the best result. The average regimen consists of three injections spread out over three or four months.

During your initial consultation with a trained physician, you’ll be asked to provide your complete medical history, including any medical conditions and allergies.

On the day of your first Sculptra treatment, your doctor will map the injection sites on your skin and cleanse the area. A topical anesthetic may be applied to help with any discomfort. Your doctor will then inject your skin using multiple small injections.

You should be able to return to your normal activities immediately after treatment. Your doctor will advise you of any special instructions.

Sculptra is used to diminish facial wrinkles and folds and has been clinically approved to treat smile lines and other wrinkles around the nose and mouth as well as chin wrinkles.

Sculptra has many off-label uses, including:

  • nonsurgical butt lift or buttock augmentation
  • correction of cellulite
  • correction of chest, elbow, and knee wrinkles

Sculptra has also become a popular choice for those looking to bulk up their appearance. It’s being used to create definition and the look of extra muscle mass on the:

  • glutes
  • thighs
  • biceps
  • triceps
  • pectorals

Sculptra is not recommended for use on the eyes or the lips.

You can expect some swelling and bruising at the injection site. Other common side effects include:

  • redness
  • tenderness
  • pain
  • bleeding
  • itching
  • bumps

Some people may develop lumps under the skin and skin discoloration. In a 2015 study, the reported incidence of nodule formation associated with Sculptra was 7 to 9 percent.

This appears to be related to the depth of the injection, highlighting the importance of finding a qualified professional.

Sculptra shouldn’t be used by people with a history of irregular scarring or anyone allergic to the ingredients of Sculptra. It shouldn’t be used at the site of skin sores, acne, cysts, rashes, or other skin inflammation.

Most people can return to their normal activities immediately after Sculptra injections. Swelling, bruising, and other side effects are usually mild and subside within a few days. Doing the following will help speed along your recovery:

  • Apply a cold pack to the affected area for a few minutes at a time within the first 24 hours.
  • Following treatment, massage the area for five minutes at a time, five times a day, for five days.
  • Avoid excessive sunlight or tanning beds until any redness and swelling has resolved.

Results are gradual, and it may take a few weeks to see the full effects of Sculptra. Results last up to two years.

There is no special preparation required for Sculptra. To reduce the risk of bleeding, your doctor may ask that you stop taking NSAIDs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen a few days before treatment.

Sculptra falls under the category of dermal fillers. There are several FDA-approved dermal fillers available, but unlike other fillers that push up the space just below wrinkles and folds for immediate results, Sculptra stimulates collagen production.

The results appear gradually as your collagen production increases, and it lasts up to two years.

Sculptra should only be administered by a trained healthcare practitioner to reduce the risk of complications and ensure natural-looking results.

When looking for a provider:

  • Choose a board-certified plastic surgeon.
  • Request references.
  • Ask to see before-and-after photos of their Sculptra clients.

The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery provides some pointers for choosing a cosmetic surgeon as well as a list of questions you can ask at a consultation.