Sculptra treatment for people with lipoatrophy and HIV

HIV can cause changes in the way your fat is distributed in your body.

Losing fat from your face is called facial lipoatrophy.

Sculptra® is the brand name of a treatment we use to restore volume to your face. This is done using injections. You might also hear this treatment called New-Fill (the old brand name).

A course of treatment is made up of 4 sessions.

The improvements from a course of Sculptra treatment can last between 12 and 24 months. 

How Sculptra works

Sculptra is made of poly-L-lactic acid. It is injected into the skin on your face.

It has been used safely in medicine and surgery for decades. 

It stimulates collagen (a natural protein in your body). This helps to restore the appearance of your face.

It works both immediately, and gradually over time.

It is not the same as a ‘filler’, like some used in cosmetic procedures.

Your course of treatment

What is a course of treatment

A complete course of treatment is made up of 4 sessions. You will have a session every 4 to 6 weeks. 

How many courses of treatment you need will vary from person to person. 

Read more about what happens in each session.

After you’ve finished a complete course of treatment

Improvements from a course of Sculptra treatment can last between 12 and 24 months. 

You can ask to be referred back for another course of treatment if the results start to wear off.

How long the improvements last depends on your skin structure, how much fat you have lost in your face, your lifestyle and your age.

Please be aware that some of the initial volume might be lost between 1 to 6 weeks after a course of treatment.

Do not worry. Your collagen production will increase over time and your face will return to its usual appearance, usually between 5 and 6 weeks after treatment.

Further courses of treatment

When you feel that the result of your treatment has disappeared by about 50%, ask a clinician to refer you back to the Sculptra service.

Please speak to a clinician before all of the Sculptra effect has been lost.

Risks and side effects of treatment

After treatment, you might experience some numbness, swelling or discomfort. It's important to look out for signs of infection.

Risks of treatment can also include:

  • a rare (less than 1 in 100) risk of blindness or damage to sight from skin injections to the face. The person treating you will talk to you in detail about this risk
  • allergic reasons are rare but can happen. They can lead to prolonged redness, itching, swelling or a hardening around the injection site

Read more about side effects

We want to involve you in decisions about your care and treatment. If you decide to go ahead, you will be asked to sign a consent form. This states that you agree to have the treatment and you understand what it involves.


Complete confidentiality will be maintained at all times.

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital deals with referrals for all local providers.

If a referral is requested to a different site, it's implied that you are giving permission for Chelsea and Westminster Hospital to pass on referral details and patient history from your referring site. This information will be transmitted securely.

Change or cancel your appointment

Sculptra appointments are managed by Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust.

Please call them on 020 3315 6147 or 020 3315 6936.

Resource number: 4316/VER1
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Contact us

For questions or concerns during treatment

Phone: 020 3315 6936 Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

Out of hours

Phone the on-call HIV doctor at Guy’s and St Thomas’ using the switchboard: 020 7188 7188 (24 hours, 7 days a week)

In an emergency, go to your nearest emergency department (A&E).

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Do you have any comments or concerns about your care?

Contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

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