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Radiesse vs. Sculptra – How to Choose?

Kristina Cadwell  
September 8, 2022  

Dermal fillers and Botox are the ultimate cosmetic solution for people who want to reverse the effects of aging without surgery. Fillers come in many forms, depending on what the patient wants to achieve. Some fillers instantly fill in deep wrinkles and folds, while others take time to stimulate the body’s natural collagen-building process.

Radiesse and Sculptra belong to the latter group. Their rejuvenating effects are similar, but they differ in many ways. This article explains the differences between the two popular anti-aging injectables and helps you choose a suitable treatment for your cosmetic concern.

Radiesse vs. Sculptra dermal fillers

Radiesse Overview

Radiesse is a thick injectable filler whose main component is synthetic calcium hydroxylapatite, a mineral with the same chemical composition as the material found in bones and teeth. The injected calcium hydroxylapatite particles function as a scaffold for new tissue growth.

Sculptra Overview

Sculptra is a dermal filler made from poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA), a synthetic material that triggers the body’s inflammatory response and stimulates increased collagen production. It provides delayed but longer-lasting results.

Radiesse vs. Sculptra

The following table helps you assess the main differences between Radiesse and Sculptra.

RadiesseSculptra
Main ingredientCalcium hydroxylapatitePoly-L-lactic acid
FDA-approved treatment areasNasolabial foldsCorners of the mouthMarionette linesPre-jowl foldsChin wrinklesHandsNasolabial foldsMarionette linesChin wrinkles
Time to first resultsImmediateSeveral weeks
Longevity of results12+ monthsUp to 24 months
Typical number of sessionsOne sessionThree sessions in three to four months
Side effectsRednessSwellingBruisingTendernessPain at the injection siteLumpsRednessSwellingBruisingTendernessPain at the injection siteLumps
Cost$725 per syringe$900 per vial

Which Areas Can Be Treated?

Radiesse

The FDA has approved Radiesse for correcting volume loss and wrinkles in these areas:

Radiesse is also used off-label to lift sagging knees, upper arms, and buttocks.

The injectable’s thick, viscous consistency makes it unsuitable for facial areas with thin skin, such as the under-eye area.


Note: Learn which fillers are suitable for the under-eye area and how they work.


Sculptra

Sculptra is FDA-approved for moderate to severe facial wrinkles and folds, including:

  • Nasolabial folds
  • Marionette lines
  • Chin wrinkles

It is also used off-label for neck rejuvenation, butt lift, and hip dips correction

The Procedure

Radiesse

The medical provider cleans and prepares the skin for treatment. They sometimes apply a topical numbing cream to minimize the pain. Radiesse is applied deeper in the skin than Sculptra and may cause more discomfort.

The provider marks the injection sites and injects Radiesse. The process takes several minutes. Finally, the provider massages the treatment area to help the injection settle and prevent lumps. Patients usually need one Radiesse session for optimal results.

Sculptra

Sculptra treatments are similar to Radiesse sessions. The only difference is that patients typically require three sessions spaced one month apart for the best results.

The Results

Radiesse

Radiesse instantly volumizes the treatment area because the injectable consists of calcium microspheres that provide an immediate support structure beneath the skin. They dissolve after several months, just as the newly formed collagen and tissue appear, resulting in a smoother, rejuvenated look.

Radiesse results typically last about one year, with some patients enjoying younger-looking skin for much longer.

Sculptra

Sculptra provides gradual results because the PLLA particles act as a foreign body that stimulates increased collagen production. The effects become apparent after several weeks, with the skin’s tone and texture gradually improving in the following months.

Sculptra provides the longest-lasting results of all dermal fillers – up to 24 months.

Side Effects

Radiesse and Sculptra use biodegradable substances that are safe for use in volume-restoring cosmetic applications. However, patients sometimes report mild, short-lasting side effects, such as:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Itching
  • Pain
  • Lumps

Aftercare

To minimize side effects and ensure the best results, medical providers recommend following these aftercare tips:

  • After Sculptra injection, it is important to massage the area for five minutes, five times a day for five days. Massage assists with tissue integration and prevents the formations of lumps and bumps. Radiesse only requires massage post-injection and is ussualy performed at the office by the provider, and massage at home for Radiesse is not required.
  • Avoid sun and high heat exposure for several days.
  • Avoid strenuous exercise for 24-48 hours.
  • Use icepacks to reduce swelling.
  • Avoid alcohol for 24-48 hours.

Note: This blog post provides detailed information about what to do after a dermal filler treatment.


Cost

At Vibrant Skin Bar, one syringe of Radiesse costs $725. Patients typically need one or two syringes per session, depending on the cosmetic issue and desired effects.

One vial of Sculptra costs $900. Patients usually need one or two vials per session and about three sessions spaced across three to four months.

Visit our skin professionals at the Vibrant Skin Bar to get a detailed assessment of your skin issues and learn how much it would cost to resolve them.

Which Is Better: Sculptra or Radiesse?

Radiesse and Sculptra are collagen-stimulating dermal fillers that restore volume in hollow facial regions and fill in moderate to severe wrinkles and folds. Both are effective in treating the midface area and chin wrinkles. Radiesse is a better choice for restoring volume in the back of the hands and for people who want instant skin-lifting results. Sculptra is better for patients who want longer-lasting results with minimal maintenance.

Choose an experienced medical provider to ensure the best type of filler for your cosmetic concern.

Conclusion

If you’re seeing aging signs that distress you, cosmetic treatments like Radiesse or Sculptra may be able to help. They are collagen-building fillers that provide impressive, natural-looking, and long-lasting results.

Consult our Vibrant Skin Bar medical professionals to determine the best strategy for your desired look.

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About the Author:
Kristina Cadwell
PA Kristina Cadwell graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. She then completed the Physician Assistant program at A.T. Still University graduating with a Masters of Medical Science degree. Kristina has been working in the Aesthetic Medical field for over 10 years. She is certified in neurotoxin cosmetic injection, dermal fillers, Plasma Pen skin tightening, chemical peels, and laser therapy. She is known for producing natural results and has extensive knowledge in diet and exercise allowing her to help you achieve vibrant skin from the inside out.
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