Hand Rejuvenation: Turning Back the Hands of Time

NEW YORK, NY (August 21, 2003) — While many people have cosmetic surgery to make their face look younger, their hands still may reveal their age. "When the hands look years older than the face, that's a tell-tale sign that someone has had facial rejuvenation surgery," says Robert Bernard, MD, president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), the leading organization of board-certified plastic surgeons who specialize in cosmetic surgery. For those who are concerned about the appearance of their hands, there are steps that can help prevent or even partially reverse the signs of aging.

"Prevention is one of the keys to younger-looking hands," says Leroy Young, MD, chair of the ASAPS Nonsurgical Procedures Committee. "I tell patients to rub the excess creams and lotions that they use on their faces into the backs of their hands, and I also stress the importance of sunblock."

The cumulative effects of aging, sun and exposure to chemicals are brown spots, uneven pigmentation, skin cancers, thinning skin, and prominent veins. As women enter menopause, dropping levels of estrogen contribute further to thinning and drying of the skin. There is no procedure or combination of procedures that can address all the damage done to hands, but significant improvement can be achieved with the help of an aesthetic plastic surgeon and the following techniques:

  • Prescription topical treatments: Lotions and creams, some with glycolic acid or other exfoliating agents, can be effective for treating dryness and light sun damage.
  • Microdermabrasion: A noninvasive treatment that uses a stream of micro-crystals and suction to gently polish the skin, reducing age spots and light sun damage.
  • Chemical Peels: Minor brown spots and areas of discoloration can be treated with chemical peel solutions that vary according to their specific ingredients and strength. It is important that this procedure be undertaken judiciously, as hands have a tendency to scar.
  • Intense Pulsed Light: Proponents say intense pulsed light can reduce the signs of aging and discoloration in the hands and stimulate the skin for a collagen-producing effect. Benefits of treatment are said to include improvement in skin texture and dermal thickness.
  • Fat Grafting: One of the effects of aging on hands is a loss of volume. Structural fat grafting, taking fat from one part of the body and injecting it into the back of the hands (usually during more than one session), can restore the soft tissue that is lost with age and can also fill out the grooves between the bones. It is important that this procedure be done by a qualified plastic surgeon with a thorough understanding of the anatomy of the hands.
  • Sclerotherapy: Can be used to decrease the prominence of veins on the back of the hands. With sclerotherapy, a concentrated saline solution is injected directly into the vein, causing the vein to turn white and gradually disappear. Sclerotherapy does not affect the pigment (melanin) in the skin, so patients with tanned or dark skin are not excluded from treatment.

"The hands are an expressive part of our bodies," says Dr. Young, who adds that the variety of hand rejuvenation procedures can be done alone or in combination. "We use them to communicate, nurture and create. Whether we think about it or not, our hands are on display all the time."

"It's likely that we will see an increase in the demand for procedures to reduce signs of aging in the hands," says Dr. Bernard. "Many patients may elect to have their hands rejuvenated at the same time as they have their faces lifted, so that their results will look absolutely natural."


The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), is recognized as the world's leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body. ASAPS is comprised of over 2,600 Plastic Surgeons; Active Members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and have extensive training in the complete spectrum of surgical and nonsurgical aesthetic procedures. International Active Members are certified by equivalent boards of their respective countries. All members worldwide adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must meet stringent membership requirements.


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