Reviewed by Barry L. Eppley, MD, DMD
For years, the only way to tell a starlet’s real age was to look at her hands when she walked down the red carpet. Thin, veiny hands with age spots were a dead giveaway of a person’s real age.
Not anymore. Many women, and even some men, are opting for hand rejuvenation procedures. From brightening creams and chemical peels to laser therapies and fillers that replace lost volume, these procedures are allowing more of us to keep our real age a real secret. Some newly engaged women even sign up for hand lifts so their hands look just as a radiant as their new rock.
As we age, our hands lose volume. As a result, veins can bulge, protrude and acquire a bony look. The skin on the back of the hands can develop age and sun spots. The good news is there are many treatments available to help rejuvenate and refresh aging hands.
If you are unhappy with the appearance of your hands, the first step is to schedule a consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon or dermatologist who treats hands. He or she will examine your hands and advise you or your treatment options.
Here’s a sampling of what doctors have to offer:
Laser Hand Rejuvenation
Lasers such as the Fraxel can resurface the skin on the back of the hand. The Fraxel works from the inside out by spurring the production of collagen, the protein that gives skin the supple quality most associated with youth. Another laser, the Q Switched Yag, targets melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color. This laser can eradicate age spots in just one treatment. CO2 laser resurfacing can also remove sun spots. These effects typically last about a year or longer.
Chemical peels and IPL (intense pulsed light) also soften the appearance of brown sun spots on the hands. Treatment may involve a series of chemical peels or two 10-minute IPL treatments. IPL uses light energy to banish age spots. Ask your surgeon which he or she recommends and why. Costs vary widely and can range from $400 for a single session of Fraxel to $1,500 for a series of three or four.
Injectables for Aging Hands
Soft tissue fillers, including Juvederm, Perlane, Restylane and Radiesse, can add volume to thinning hands. Radiesse is the only filler that is specifically approved for hand augmentation by the US Food and Drug Administration. Fat injections also have a role in plumping up the hands. Your plastic surgeon can take fat extracted during liposuction, concentrate it, and re-inject it into the back your hands. There may be some swelling with fillers and fat, but most people can go back to using their hands within a day. These results may last up to a year, and fat may last even longer. Fillers may cost $500 to $1,500 and fat injections often double the cost of synthetic fillers.
While replacing volume can help camouflage the appearance of veins, some doctors are also using sclerotherapy to treat veins on the hand. Sclerotherapy involves injecting a solution directly into the vein, which causes it to collapse. Cost ranges from $400 to $750 per session.
Topical Hand Rejuvenation Products
There are many prescription and over-the-counter topical treatments that can help reverse the effects of aging on our hands. There’s Retin-A, which builds collagen and makes skin look firmer and smoother. Other products contain a bleaching agent called hydroquinone which blocks melanin. Both Retin-A and hydroquinone may cause irritation. Lumixyl is a new product that is based on a series of naturally-occurring peptides. Sold in physicians’ offices, Lumixyl works by reducing melanin, but with less the irritation or other side effects associated with Hydroquinone or Retin-A. Another newbie, Elure, harnesses the power of melanozyme to reduce melanin. Elure is sold only at physicians’ offices.
While there are many treatments available for aging hands, prevention is always the best bet. This starts with using sunscreen on your hands. Sun exposure is one of the leading causes of premature aging, and our hands get as much time in the sun as our face.
Start your search for a local hand rejuvenation doctor now.