You know all those hours you check into the gym and the little fortune you drop on skin cream? If you don’t take care of your hands, you’re still spilling beans on how many candles you’ll burn on your next birthday cake.
“Not only are hands susceptible to the first signs of aging, but often times age faster than the face,” says Eileen Marmore, MD, chief of dermatological and plastic surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. That’s because the skin on the back of the hand is much thinner than the skin on your face.
“There is very little fat on the backs of the hands, so when a small amount of collagen or elastin fibers begin to break down — part of the natural aging process and partly from exposure to sunlight — a noticeable effect on your hands,” says Gregory Buford, MD, a plastic surgeon in Denver. .
The end result, experts say, is a wrinkled, crepey-like texture of the skin and a noticeable appearance of swollen veins, which also grow larger over time.
“Depending on how much sun exposure you had as a child and young adult, getting older also leads to brown spots, which are known as liver spots—pigmentation issues that age you,” says dermatologist David Goldberg. , director of the Skin Laser & Surgeons Program in New York and New Jersey.
But you don’t have to throw up your hands and give up without a fight. WebMD asked medical experts the best strategies for turning back the clock, from increased at-home pampering to professional treatments.
Home skin care for your hands
If you’re like many people, hand care at home is limited to using dishwashing detergent with moisturizer and maybe hand cream at the drugstore every now and then. But experts say that with a little more effort, you can improve the appearance of your hands now — and 20 years from now. “There are definitely key products and ingredients that can temporarily make a difference to the look of your hands, and there are some exciting developments that can help make a real difference in your skin,” Goldberg says.
Crop butter or cream of the crop
Among the latest developments are creams containing growth factors, most of which are derived from plants. “These are creams that seem to boost new collagen formation – you won’t get what you would get with a [medical treatment]but it’s not a good idea to start using these creams every night starting around age 40,” says Goldberg.
Science supports this. One study published in Journal of pharmacology in dermatology In 2007, it was reported that 83% of women ages 35 to 65 who had tried creams containing growth factors found improvement in their hands. wrinkles Only after 60 days.
If you’d rather skip the expensive creams, experts say the goal is at least daily use of a simple moisturizer. This alone will improve the appearance of your hands.
“Your hands really need more moisture than any other part of your body because they’re exposed to the elements more, all year long, plus you’re washing them more frequently, which also results in the skin losing its protective oil mantle,” says Marmar.
While a moisturizer won’t reverse sun damage or produce new collagen, it can leave skin looking plumper and younger. Some of the ingredients in these products include shea butter, macadamia nut oil, olive oil, vitamin E, and glycerin. Since all moisturizers work most effectively when applied to slightly damp skin, use them after you shower or bathe, or after washing your hands.
What about all those promising topical skin-lightening treatments? The main ingredient is hydroquinone, but dermatologists are divided on how beneficial it is. “For some people, they work great—and lighten brown spots significantly; for others, they don’t work at all,” Marmore says.
Even more worrisome, some studies are beginning to question the safety of hydroquinone. In 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned over-the-counter skin-lightening products with hydroquinone, based on a lack of data on safety or efficacy. A prescription version is still available, but some doctors advise skipping this treatment, while others agree to use it during a doctor’s care.
“At this point, it’s much better to use a professional treatment — it’s faster and safer,” Goldberg says.
Doctors agree that a key factor in keeping hands youthful is avoiding direct sunlight. The second best thing is to cover your hands with good sunscreen several times a day.
Sunscreens containing Mexoryl SX (ecamsule) or Helioplex help protect against UVA and UVB rays responsible for brown spots and wrinkles.
It used to be a luxury reserved for the rich and fabulous – pampering VIPs in a hot paraffin wax hand bath. This useful remedy is now within everyone’s reach, thanks to the availability of small, portable units for home use.
For less than $50 a unit, plus the cost of the wax, you can give your hands a daily dip that promises to rehabilitate even the driest, cracked skin. “These treatments can be very beneficial for deep hydration, and I recommend them as more effective than a simple hand cream,” Buford says.
Why wax? According to Marmore, it coats the skin, providing a form of protection you don’t usually get from a cream.
Affordable home paraffin wax units are available from companies like HoMedics; Therabath, which offers luscious scents like vanilla cupcake, rose petals, and lemon; And Artemis Woman specializes in waxes infused with shea butter.
Professional anti-aging skin care treatments for hands
Not completely satisfied with the results of your at-home hand care? You may be ready to consider career options. “Some of the most exciting new anti-aging advances in face and neck care have been shown to be amazing hand treatments,” says Marmore.
Experts say professional hand care is on the rise. But no matter which treatments you’re considering, make sure they’re performed under the supervision of a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon.
WebMD asked the experts for a short list of the most effective professional procedures for those looking for younger hands.
Medical filler for hands
Because the skin on the back of the hands is so thin, losing even a minimal amount of fat fills up a crepe-like appearance.
“It’s a lot like letting air come out of a balloon—it just deflates, and the skin no longer has the support structure it needs to look and feel as firm as little hands do,” says Marmore.
This is why the number 1 professional hand care treatment to date is medical fillers, the same wrinkle-filling injections used on the face. “However, unlike the face, where you fill in the line, when you treat the hands, you fill in the space, add volume, and bring back some cushion under the skin that has been lost over the years,” says Goldberg.
Among the most popular fillers are Radiuses, Sculpture, Per lane and Juvederm Ultra Plus. “You’re looking for thicker fillers with a much heavier texture than you might use for facial lines, like Restylane,” says Marmore.
Once injected, Goldberg says, the filler is massaged across the back of the hand and “emptied” to fill in the entire area. The treatment takes less than 20 minutes, and results are visible within two weeks.
At first, results can last one to two years, longer than they appear on the face, experts say, because the back of the hand has less muscle and less muscle activity that’s able to break down fillers. Buford says there’s also evidence that the injections stimulate the body’s production of collagen and elastin, so over time, you may need less fillers to maintain a youthful appearance.
Medical filler risks: Buford warns of the theoretical risk of small lumps of filler and skin forming under the skin that would require surgery to remove. So far, no cases have been reported. Also, African Americans or others with a tendency toward the formation of scar tissue or “keloids” should only use fillers under the care of someone who is an expert in treating people of color, Buford says.
Medical filler cost: Depending on how much you need (men usually need three injections per hand and women about two), the cost can range from $1,000 to $6,000 per pair.
Laser skin peeling
For those who suffer from needle shyness, or who want to maximize the impact of their filler treatments, experts say a few clicks of a fractional laser skin rejuvenation tool can do the trick.
Unlike laser treatments of the past that caused deep cuts and a long recovery time, the new laser creates tiny holes in the skin that inspire your body to start producing its own collagen and elastin, without scarring, redness, or time to heal.
You get benefits laser resurfacing It’s still the best way to remove wrinkles — but without the downtime and complication rate,” Goldberg says.
But how do they keep their hands looking younger? Marmore says that by stimulating new collagen and elastin to grow, the treatments restore the skin’s basic support structure, making wrinkles disappear. Within several weeks you are replacing some fresh and tight skin.
An added bonus: Marmore says laser treatments help restore the same skin texture, so your hands look younger and more refreshed almost instantly.
New collagen and elastin are permanent, but because the aging process and sun exposure continue to break them down, the lasting effects vary. Marmur says that with good care and judicious use of sunscreen, you can see improvement for up to 5 years or more.
Laser skin peeling risks: In one study on 961 patients published in the journal Dermatology In 2008, doctors reported that about 7.5% of those treated with fractional lasers to the face developed complications. The most common were temporary young love hack or local iterations of herpes simplex virus.
Dark-skinned patients were more likely to have temporary inflammatory hyperpigmentation. “Hyper” means more, and “pigmentation” means color. The spots or patches of color may be black, brown, gray, or reddish. Some people call them liver spots, age spots, or sun spots. It can affect people of any color or race.
The study researchers noted that there was also a small risk of scarring.
Laser skin rejuvenation cost: Expect to pay approximately $750 per pair of hands for each treatment. Most people need three to five sessions.
Getting rid of liver spots on the hands
One sure sign of aging: those pesky brown spots or liver spots that appear on the back of the hand as early as your thirties — and get darker and more prominent with age.
“That’s just a normal part of the aging process, but it’s definitely affected by the sun — and the more sun you get when you’re young, the more brown spots you’ll see as you age,” Goldberg says.
Preferred professional treatment: a laser designed to rid the skin of excessive pigmentation. Goldberg adds that IPL (a laser-similar pulsed light therapy) also works to remove brown spots.
Although IPL treatments are generally considered safe and effective, a small but important study was published in March 2008 Dermatology Archives He suggests there may be room for caution: Researchers from the University Hospital of Geneva found that IPL treatments significantly increased the level of free radicals in the skin similar to the results of UVA exposure – the type of sun damage associated with premature aging of the skin. As well as skin cancer.
As long as you use sunscreen, the effects of both lasers and light sources are permanent – on the treated spots. However, “because the induction time for a brown spot is 20 to 50 years, others can appear over time,” Goldberg says.
Laser risks: Although rare, treatments have little risk of discomfort, redness, mild swelling, and pigmentation problems. If you are prone to keloid or scar tissue formation, it is important to consult a dermatologist or plastic surgeon before undergoing this treatment.
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