Semi-Permanent Filler FAQs

To reverse the aging process and achieve a more youthful appearance, many people turn to semi-permanent fillers, such as  Sculptra and Bellafill, which are FDA-approved, safe, and effective. These types of fillers are gaining popularity in the field of non-surgical facial rejuvenation.

Before getting any cosmetic procedure, however, you need to do your research to make sure you understand the process and its benefits as well as any potential risks or side effects.

Below, Dr. Ali Ghafouri of Arizona Oculoplastic Specialists answers some of the most frequently asked questions about Sculptra and Bellafill, and semi-permanent fillers in general.

What are semi-permanent fillers?

Semi-permanent fillers are made of particles that promote collagen formation and add volume to the face. The filler substances are injected underneath the skin’s surface or over the bone to restore a more youthful appearance. Semi-permanent fillers differ from hyaluronic acid (HA) fillers (Restylane, Juvederm, etc.) which typically last 6 to 12 months. They generate longer-lasting results than HA fillers.

What are the benefits of semi-permanent fillers?

Semi-permanent fillers, like Sculptra and Bellafill, are used to improve patients’ facial contours and smooth shallow-to-deep lines, creases, folds in the skin. They help enhance the cheekbones and jawline, and restore lost facial volume. They are not generally used for frown and worry lines on the forehead and crow’s feet around the eyes or on the lips.

Sculptra and Bellafill are especially effective at treating loss of volume in the mid and lower facial region as there are injected deeper into the tissue planes. They help improve the following areas: smile lines (nasolabial folds), jaw line, cheeks, temples and chin. They are also used to minimize the appearance of acne scars.

What are Sculptra and Bellafill made with and how do they work?

Sculptra and Bellafill are made from different products, but they both act as collagen stimulators.

Collagen is a tissue-binding protein that provides your skin with volume, keeping it looking plump and smooth. As you age, however, your body’s natural collagen production slows down, resulting in facial volume loss, lines, and creases.

Sculptra is made from poly-L-lactic acid microspheres, which is a  biodegradable, synthetic material that stimulates your body’s own collagen production. When patients are treated with Sculptra, their bodies naturally absorb the poly-L-lactic acid, which, over time, helps revitalize lost collagen.

Bellafill consists of a collagen base and biocompatible polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) microspheres. When injected, the collagen is absorbed gradually, but the PMMA microspheres remain, creating a foundation onto which patients’ bodies start rebuilding lost collagen naturally.

Are Sculptra and Bellafill safe?

In short, yes, both Sculptra and Bellafill are safe to use.

However, semi-permanent fillers are not suitable for everyone. Patients who are pregnant, lactating, or breastfeeding should exercise caution when getting semi-permanent fillers. Patients under the age of 18 should not use Sculptra, and patients need to be at least 21 to be treated with Bellafill.

Additionally, patients should consult with their doctor to make sure they aren’t allergic to any of the ingredients used in fillers, such as bovine collagen and lidocaine. Patients who have a bleeding disorder or are prone to irregular scarring also should not use Sculptra or Bellafill.

How long do results last?

The longevity of semi-permanent fillers depends on several factors, including the treatment area, and the patient’s reaction to the product.

Sculptra typically requires 3 treatments over a period of 3 to 4 months. Results emerge gradually and last over 3 to 5 years.

Depending on the injection site, results often last longer with Bellafill, and patients typically see an immediate improvement. When Bellafill is injected into smile lines, results last up to five years, and when it’s used to treat acne scars, results last up to one year.

What are some potential side effects?

Potential side effects of Sculptra and Bellafill are similar. Patients may experience some temporary tenderness, swelling, itching, redness, bruising, or bleeding at the injection site. Small lumps or bumps may also appear under the skin. There is a small risk of allergic reaction. In the hands of an experienced doctor, treatment with Sculptra and Bellafill is a safe procedure.

What’s the recovery like?

After getting semi-permanent fillers, most patients are able to resume work or school and their usual activities right away. To alleviate tenderness and swelling, patients can apply a cloth-wrapped ice pack to the injection site intermittently for several minutes. Gently massaging the treatment area for a few minutes a few times a day is also recommended. Additionally, patients should limit their exposure to sunlight and UV lamps until any side effects clear up.

Schedule an Appointment

To learn more about Sculptra, Bellafill, and other semi-permanent fillers, call or email the office of Dr. Ali Ghafouri today.

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Dr. Ghafouri, MD, FACS, is a distinguished ophthalmic plastic and facial cosmetic surgeon based in Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona, with extensive experience in eyelid, eye orbit, tear drainage, and skin cancer surgeries. He specializes in minimally invasive aesthetic procedures such as cosmetic eyelid lifts, endoscopic forehead lifts, mid-facelifts, laser facial rejuvenation, Botox, and dermal fillers. Board-certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology and a fellow of several prestigious medical societies, he has performed over 18,000 major reconstructive and aesthetic surgeries. Dr. Ghafouri and his team at Arizona Oculoplastic Specialists are dedicated to delivering exceptional patient care with compassion and excellence.



Dr. Ghafouri offers virtual consultations for out-of-town patients. We see patients from all across the country who trust Dr. Ghafouri’s unique skills and expertise for their facial or eyelid surgeries. If you choose to travel to Arizona for your surgery, we can also recommend hotels and other resources to make your stay comfortable.

To schedule a virtual consultation with Dr. Ghafouri Click here.

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