Sculptra Review: This Filler Alternative Boasts The Added Benefit Of Glowing, Smooth Skin

By Amanda Linnell
Suffering from filler fatigue? Consider this new lifting and firming treatment instead. Photo / Getty Images

Viva contributor Amanda Linnell discovers a volume-boosting, skin-smoothing injectable treatment that works with the body’s natural collagen synthesis to achieve long-lasting results.

The promise

Sculptra is an injectable treatment that promises to provide natural-looking improvement to the texture of your skin through collagen stimulation, while helping to boost volume.


The practice

Knowing I am in the hands of the esteemed and respected Dr Ellen Selkon at Clinic 42 is important.

When it comes to any kind of tweakment, especially to the face, you want someone with experience, who knows that we are all different and all require different approaches.

I have never been a fan of filler — especially if it’s not administered well, it can leave people looking puffy and pillow-faced. Filler can, however, be dissolved if you don’t like the result. Scupltra cannot. It’s safe to say I am nervous.

As Ellen rubs numbing gel on my face, she explains how the liquid will be inserted via a cannula and then spread under the skin.

“If injected at a superficial level, it will work to produce glowy skin. If injected into deeper layers, it will work to add volume and glow,” she says.

As we age different parts of the face lengthen, she explains, as she highlights the area between my cheekbones and ears, the temple area and my jawline where adding volume will help.

Over the next 50 minutes, she injects and we chat about the procedure.

“A good time to start Sculptra would be in your 40s and you would probably start on one vial per treatment, depending on the state of your skin,” Ellen says.

“As you age you will probably need more vials. When you are looking at any treatment it’s important to focus on the face as a whole, not target one area. This will help keep things looking natural. We also really need to take a holistic approach when it comes to our approach to our appearance and ageing. It’s important to also look at our physical and mental health.”

Scupltra, says Ellen, is popular in the US where it is also used in other parts of the body, and I have seen stories on how in some circles it’s referred to as the answer for people suffering from filler fatigue.

The last 5-10 minutes of the treatment is the most enjoyable as Ellen massages my face. This is an important part of the treatment as it helps minimise the chance of small lumps or nodules that can develop under the skin.

The place

Clinic 42, 321 Manukau Rd, Auckland.

The price

From $800 per vial. Ellen recommends having two to three treatments, spaced at least six weeks apart.

The take-home

I felt comfortable going out in public straight after each treatment. In the mirror, my face looks ever-so-slightly puffy but, promises Ellen, that is just the liquid from the treatment and it’s gone by the next day.

“Five, five, five” is the key message she has sent me away with — along with a tube of rich moisturising face cream. It’s important to massage your face for five minutes, five times a day, ideally for five days. “This is essential to help spread the particles and avoid any complications,”Ellen says.

The verdict

Sculptra takes a while to notice any difference, and by the time I go back for my second treatment, I’m still not sure I can see a difference.

It’s only when I’m out for dinner 3-4 weeks later and a friend tells me my skin looks “smooth and glowing” that I realise it’s starting to work.

The change in my skin texture is subtle, but that’s just how I like it and knowing that it’s going to keep working for up to two years — with an annual top-up — feels good.

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