Hand Rejuvenation Options: Guide to Aging Hands & Treatments

Written by Stephanie Saxton-Daniels, MD, Board Certified Dermatologist on May 3, 2024 No Comments

crepey hand skin

In the quest for youthful skin, we often focus our attention on the face, neck, and décolleté, leaving a crucial area overlooked: our hands. Have you ever heard the saying “If you want to really know a woman’s age, look at her hands”? Surprisingly, our hands are often the first to show significant signs of aging. They are also highly visible in almost everything we do in daily life. Over time, they can become wrinkled, develop unsightly veins, and exhibit pigmentation issues like age spots. This is why it’s very ironic that the hands are often neglected, with patients instead focusing their anti-aging efforts on their face, neck, chest, or legs.

The good news is that there are many great ways to address hand aging. In this post, we will discuss the science behind hand aging and explore the most effective treatments to rejuvenate aging hands.

The Basics Of Hand Aging

Hand aging is characterized by a loss of tissue volume and elasticity of the skin which can increase the visibility of tendons, veins, and bones on the back of the hand. Additionally, years of exposure to UV rays and other free radicals cause the skin on the hands to appear spotted, dull, wrinkled, and/or crepe.

The rapid onset of aging symptoms in our hands can be attributed to several factors. Unlike the thicker skin found on our faces, the skin on the back of our hands is significantly thinner, with minimal fat and tissue. This leads to a quicker decline in collagen and elastin levels, resulting in increased wrinkling and a more prominent appearance of underlying bones and veins.

Additionally, our hands are constantly exposed to various environmental aggressors such as UV rays, cold weather, dirt, and frequent hand washing, further accelerating the aging process. Neglecting proper hand care in our skincare routines only exacerbates these issues.

What is Hand Rejuvenation?

Hand rejuvenation encompasses a range of procedures, both surgical and non-surgical, aimed at restoring a more youthful appearance to the hands. These treatments target common aging symptoms and focus on rejuvenating the skin to achieve a plump and youthful look. Ideal candidates for hand rejuvenation are individuals in good general health who are experiencing wrinkling, crepiness, boniness, hyperpigmentation, or other signs of aging on the back of their hands.

Hand Rejuvenation Treatments By Concern

1. Wrinkles / Loose Skin

Over time the skin on the hands (and all other areas of the body) experiences a decrease in the production of collagen and elastin, two proteins that help the skin stay plump and firm. Slowly, our elasticity declines as the tightly knot network of fibers under the skin begins to loosen. The skin at the back of the hands becomes loose and begins to sag. The development of wrinkles or lines is also common.

Wrinkles on the hands can detract from their youthful appearance, making them appear older than they are. These wrinkles develop due to a combination of factors such as decreased collagen and elastin production, sun exposure, and repetitive movements.

Laser skin resurfacing is a highly effective solution for smoothing out wrinkles and improving skin texture, promoting a more youthful look. The procedure involves the use of a laser device that emits concentrated beams of light to precisely target the skin’s surface, stimulating collagen production and encouraging the growth of new, healthy skin cells.

2. Pigmentation (Age Spots/Sun Spots)

Age spots, also known as sun spots or liver spots, are flat, brown spots that develop on the skin due to prolonged sun exposure. These pigmentation issues can mar the appearance of the hands, adding to their aged appearance.

Chemical peels are commonly used to diminish the appearance of age spots, restoring a more even skin tone and youthful complexion. A chemical peel involves the application of a chemical solution to the skin, which causes the top layers to exfoliate and eventually peel off, revealing smoother, more youthful-looking skin underneath. Superficial or medium-depth peels are typically recommended for treating aging hands, as they are less aggressive and carry a lower risk of complications.

Intense pulsed light (IPL) photofacial treatments use precise amounts of visible light to effectively treat pigmentation and sun damage. IPL can effectively treat red/brown color and improve sun-damaged skin.

Fraxel Dual (previously Fraxel Restore) is a non-invasive laser treatment that causes sloughing of the outer most layers of the skin to improve both skin texture and tone. The procedure can also minimize the appearance of sun spots on the skin as well.

3. Dry or Dull Skin

The tone and texture of the hands can degrade after years of accumulated exposure to the various elements like radiation from the sun, cold winter temps, or pollution. Most individuals will start to notice the accumulation of sun spots and sun damage as early as their late 30’s. The skin along the back of the hands can also being to appear dull and be rough to the touch.

Dry, dull skin on the hands can further contribute to their aged appearance, making them look rough and lackluster. Exfoliation and moisturizing are essential steps in combating dryness and dullness, promoting smoother, more radiant skin.

Techniques such as non-invasive microdermabrasion can also help to slough off dead skin cells and stimulate collagen production, enhancing the overall texture and appearance of the hands. During a microdermabrasion treatment for the hands, a trained skincare professional will gently pass a specialized wand or handpiece over the surface of the skin, emitting fine crystals or a diamond-tipped abrasive surface to exfoliate the outermost layer of skin. The device simultaneously suctions away the exfoliated skin cells and debris, revealing smoother, fresher skin underneath.

4. Veins

The development of visible veins on the hands with age is a natural part of the aging process, influenced by a combination of factors such as skin thinning, loss of tissue volume, weakening vein walls, sun damage, genetics, and gravitational effects. While these changes are often unavoidable, there are cosmetic treatments available to reduce the visibility of veins and restore a more youthful appearance to the hands.

Sclerotherapy, fat transfer, and fillers such as Radiesse are effective treatments for reducing the visibility of veins and restoring volume to the hands, resulting in a fuller, more youthful look.

Sclerotherapy is a minimally invasive medical procedure commonly used to treat varicose and spider veins in the legs. However, it can also be used on the hands to reduce the appearance of prominent veins. Sclerotherapy uses a sclerosing solution that is injected into overtly visible hand veins, causing them to close. Without the flow of blood, the vein later fades from view. Sclerotherapy is also very safe as it only eliminates non-functioning veins.

Fat transfer, also known as fat grafting or fat injection, is a surgical procedure used for hand rejuvenation to restore volume and improve the overall appearance of aging hands. It involves transferring fat from one area of the body, typically the abdomen or thighs, to the back of the hands to add fullness and smooth out wrinkles and bony prominences.

Radiesse is a dermal filler commonly used for hand rejuvenation to restore volume, minimize the visibility of veins and tendons, and improve the overall appearance of aging hands.

5. Boniness From Volume Loss

As we age, the fat and soft tissue padding beneath the skin on the hands gradually diminishes. This loss of volume can cause the bones and tendons in the hands to become more prominent and visible, giving the hands a bony appearance. The only way to correct volume loss is to replace it.

As with veins, increasing volume through filler injections or fat transfer can help to restore a more youthful fullness to the hands; providing a natural-looking enhancement. Dermal fillers such as Restylane Lyft or Radiesse can instantly replace volume back into the hands, masking tendons and bones in the back of the hands. These fillers have both been approved by the FDA for effectively and safely adding back lost volume to the hands. The procedure is relatively painless, requires no downtime, and results last for up to 1 year.

Hand Aging Prevention & Maintenance

After undergoing hand rejuvenation treatments, it’s essential to maintain healthy habits to prolong the results and prevent further aging. Incorporating sun protection into your daily routine, along with regular exfoliation, moisturizing, and the use of anti-aging serums, can help preserve the youthfulness of your hands. A healthy diet, hydration, and avoiding smoking are also crucial factors in maintaining youthful-looking hands. Additionally, periodic maintenance treatments can extend the benefits of hand rejuvenation, keeping your hands looking vibrant and youthful longer.

Hand rejuvenation offers a comprehensive approach to addressing the signs of aging on the hands, restoring their youthful appearance and confidence. By understanding the science behind hand aging and exploring the various treatment options available, you can take proactive steps to defy the effects of time and maintain beautiful, youthful hands for years to come.

Stephanie Saxton-Daniels, MD

Dr. Stephanie Saxton-Daniels is a Board-Certified Dermatologist and a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology. Dr. Saxton-Daniels completed a General Surgery internship at the University of New Mexico prior to graduating from the nationally recognized Dermatology residency program at UT Southwestern in Dallas, Texas. The scope of her practice encompasses medical, surgical, pediatric & cosmetic dermatology. She enjoys treating families and has a special interest in skin cancer, acne, eczema, allergic contact dermatitis and alopecia.

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