Sculptra® (poly-L-lactic acid) was listed in the Australian Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme on 1 September. It is a synthetic polymer which is injected into areas of the face which are sunken, to increase volume, and fill and smooth facial skin.
The treatment is safe and effective and has restored the self-confidence and appearance of many people. A small proportion of people with HIV who have received HIV antiretroviral treatments in the past have developed lipoatrophy. This is a medical condition where fat stored under the skin is redistributed elsewhere in the body or lost. This wasting can occur in the limbs (particularly legs) or from the face. Such facial wasting can appear disfiguring and can reduce self-esteem. People report that after receiving the Scupltra Treatment their quality of life has improved dramatically with just a few treatments and that they are more self-assured, feel that their appearance has been restored and that they can more easily engage in social interactions.
The treatment consists of injecting small amounts of Sculptra® into sunken areas of the face. A number of treatment sessions may be required to restore facial appearance. It fills and ‘pumps up’ the skin making it smooth and even. As with any medical treatment there are risks involved: your doctor can discuss these with you.
There are prescribing limitations so that:
- The product is available for administration to patients with HIV with severe facial wasting (presumably associated with previous HIV treatments)
- For facial administration only
- Patients must be referred by their S100 HIV prescribing doctor
- Only medical professions who have undertaken appropriate training and are accredited by the product manufacturer, Sanofi-Aventis Australia Pty Ltd, are authorised to prescribe the product (this will normally not be your S100 HIV doctor)
Sculptra® is available as a prescription drug and the PBS allows for 2 treatments per prescription, and four repeats of the prescription.