Poly-L-lactic acid: an overview

J Drugs Dermatol. 2006 May;5(5):436-40.


In August 2004, the US Food and Drug Administration approved a poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA)-based injectable medical device for restoration and/or correction of the signs of facial fat loss (lipoatrophy) in people with human immunodeficiency virus. As a result, the properties of the PLLA microparticles have received considerable interest from the medical community. Polylactides have a long-standing history of safe use in medical applications, such as pins, plates, screws, intra-bone and soft-tissue implants, and as vectors for sustained release of bioactive compounds. The L-isomer of polylactic acid is a biodegradable, biocompatible, biologically inert, synthetic polymer. Putatively, PLLA microparticles initiate neocollagenesis as a result of a normal foreign-body reaction to their presence. The build-up of collagen over time creates volume at the site of injection, while the PLLA microparticles are metabolized to carbon dioxide and water and expelled through the respiratory system.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Absorbable Implants
  • Animals
  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Cosmetic Techniques
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Drug Approval*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • HIV-Associated Lipodystrophy Syndrome / diagnosis
  • HIV-Associated Lipodystrophy Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Injections, Intralesional
  • Lactic Acid / pharmacology
  • Lactic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Polyesters
  • Polymers / pharmacology
  • Polymers / therapeutic use*
  • Prostheses and Implants*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States
  • United States Food and Drug Administration


  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Polyesters
  • Polymers
  • Lactic Acid
  • poly(lactide)