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Sculptra vs. Radiesse: Which Dermal Filler to Choose?

The great thing about modern cosmetic procedures and dermatology is that there are many options to choose from when considering what treatment is best for your particular need. The bad thing? Finding what’s right for you can be confusing. Many of my patients express frustration because they have been told numerous different things by different people. Some physicians swear by one product or another. Family and friends have favorites. Such is the case with Sculptra and Radiesse: two volumizing fillers. Let’s take a look at both of them so that you can decide for yourself.

The Science

Sculptra is poly-L-lactic acid, sodium carboxymethylcellulose, and mannitol, substances that attract water (to plump) and stimulate collagen (to fill). Radiesse contains calcium hydroxyapatite, which is biologically identical to the substance that makes up bones and teeth.

The Procedure

Both involve the application of numbing cream and the injection of the substance with needles into multiple areas of the face. Sculptra typically involves a series of injections spaced a few months apart, whereas Radiesse takes place in one single appointment.

The Target Area

Sculptra and Radiesse can be used in mostly the same areas. Both are commonly utilized in the nasolabial folds and jowls. However, Sculptra can also be used beneath the cheekbones for volume, where typically it would take numerous Radiesse syringes to accomplish this. Radiesse is also used in the chin and nose, which we normally wouldn’t use Sculptra for because it doesn’t get as hard.


There is no true “recovery” for either procedure. Both are nearly painless, and you can return to your daily life immediately afterward. Rarely there is bruising and swelling, which can be managed with ice and an herbal supplement called Arnica Montana.


Results of Sculptra take a series of months to appear, as it relies on your body’s own collagen production and remodeling. Some patients prefer this because they can avoid that “did you have something done?” question by sticking to a more gradual transition. Others prefer Radiesse for an instant fix. Sculptra results typically last around 2 years, while Radiesse lasts 6 months to 1 year, depending on the patient and the treatment area.


Sculptra Before and After


Radiesse Before and After


Cost is dependent on the amount of substance injected the complexity of treatment and the physician. Some patients qualify for a discount on Sculptra due to HIV-related volume loss in the face.

So….what’s the verdict?

I carry both products in my office and use both frequently. Therefore, I’m not biased toward one or the other. Instead, I try to help my patients use the characteristics of each to make the best decision for themselves. For large volume loss, I typically suggest Sculptra at first, and then perhaps touch-ups with Radiesse. For a quick fix, Radiesse is a phenomenal filler that produces instant and dramatic yet natural results.

If you’re interested in either filler or want to learn more about which might be best for you, come visit me in Long Island or Manhattan. I’d be happy to see you.

About author - Dr. Cameron Rokhsar

Dr. Cameron Rokhsar

Dr. Cameron Rokhsar, MD, FAAD, FAACS, is the founder and medical director of the New York Cosmetic, Skin, & Laser Surgery Center. Dr. Rokhsar is a graduate of Harvard College and NYU School of Medicine. Dr. Rokhsar is double board certified in dermatology and micrographic dermatologic surgery, being one of the few select dermatologists in the country who is also fellowship trained in laser surgery. A researcher and innovator, Dr. Rokhsar is the creator of the non-surgical nose job and has been instrumental in the research and development of laser systems such as the Fraxel, CO2, Mirady, Vbeam, Themitight, and Ulthera devices. An Associate Professor of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC, Dr. Rokhsar actively teaches the cosmetic dermatology clinic to the resident at Mount Sinai. An expert injector of fillers, and a trainer for many companies, patients fly in from around the world to see Dr. Rokhsar in his Garden City and Manhattan offices in New York.

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