Is it Worth it to Have a Polylactic Acid Injection?
When you’re considering any elective medical procedure, you need to know the risks, and weigh them against the benefits. The choice of whether or not to have an elective procedure is very personal, and every person will make their choice differently. Here, we’ll discuss the major risks and benefits of having injections of the dermal filler called polylactic acid.
There are several dermal fillers available for injection to reduce the appearance of small defects, such as wrinkles, in the skin. This page discusses polylactic acid. This is a nontoxic, biodegradable synthetic substance, which has been used for many years as suture material. It’s unlike other dermal fillers, in that it doesn’t directly fill wrinkles, but rather stimulates your body to produce collagen in the wrinkle; ultimately, your own body fills the wrinkle. It’s sold for this use under the brand name Sculptra Aesthetic. For more on the procedure for injecting dermal fillers, please see Dermal Fillers: the Procedure and Recovery. For more about the many resources Doctor Review has to offer, you can check out our Cosmetic Dermatology Overview page.
Please note that this page is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for qualified, individualized medical advice. You should discuss your potential elective surgery with your own doctor(s), including your primary care physician and the provider who will perform your procedure if you decide to proceed.
There are some risks that can result from the injection of any dermal filler. One risk is the possibility of infection at the site of injection. Cleaning the site before injection and using good sterile technique minimizes this risk, but it’s never zero. Infection could result in a poor aesthetic result and will require antibiotics to treat. Additionally, there is often bruising and swelling near the injection site; this usually resolves within a few days. In some cases, there may be a lump at the injection site, or the filler may be visible under the surface of the skin.
The wrinkle may not be completely filled by the filler, so it’s still present; conversely, it may be overfilled, so that it now sticks up from the skin instead of down. As the body gradually absorbs the filler, this usually resolves. In rare cases, there could be damage to the skin during injection that results in permanent scarring. There is also the risk that the filler will move away from the site where it was injected; this risk is reduced by avoiding rubbing or massaging of the treated area, which may push the filler around inside the face. If the polylactic acid is distributed unevenly, then small nodules of inflammation called granulomas may form.
To get the full effect of polylactic acid filler, you need multiple injections. These are usually done once a month for three months. It will then take several months to see the full effect, because your body has to form the new collagen.
Polylactic acid is a semipermanent dermal filler. Although it takes several months to see the effect, it will then last for years. Although you may need touch-ups to maintain your results to be as good as they were a few months after your injection, you can expect polylactic acid to last a long time.
Polylactic acid also has a long safety record in the form of its use as suture material. When a wound or surgical incision is sewn closed, it’s important to use a nonreactive material that won’t cause inflammation in the wound area. Polylactic acid has a long track record of allowing wounds to heal well, without causing allergies or other problems.
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average cost to have polylactic acid injected once is $917. This cost varies according to several factors, including how many sites need to be injected, the region, and the particular clinic. You should check with the provider(s) you’re considering to determine the exact cost. Keep in mind that financing is often available. For more detail, visit our Dermal Fillers – Polylactic Acid Cost page.