As the seasons change and time passes, so do our lifestyles. We become more involved with outdoor activities, and as we age, the skin is progressively exposed to the harmful rays of the sun. Most people are aware of facial rejuvenation procedures to help them look younger; however, it is our hands that truly reveal our real age.
Signs of aging hands
The sun has a damaging effect on the skin and speeds up the signs of aging. The most telltale sign of aging hands are referred to as “age spots” or “liver spots.” But in fact, they are more accurately called “sunspots” because it is the sun that causes these spots to develop. Sunspots are harmless, large, flat, brown, freckle-like circular spots, often with irregular borders that vary in size. Their brown appearance is due to an over-production of melanin in the skin’s effort to protect itself from the sun’s UV light.
As we age, our hands become thinner as the natural fat pads on the backs of the hands fade. The sun accelerates this loss of fat tissue and decreases the skin’s elasticity. This results in wrinkled, discolored skin, making the veins more prominent.
Causes of aging hands
Besides the effects of the sun, other causes of premature aging of the hands include: heredity, use of commercial tanning lamps/beds, birth control pills, pregnancy, aging, liver diseases, hormonal imbalances and stress.
Treatment options can address sunspots, prominent veins, loss of volume, or any combination of the three. Rejuvenation treatments produce dramatic results by restoring the hands to their youthful appearance. The key to success in hand rejuvenation is to decide what anatomic features contribute to the aging look, decide which interventions are needed, and in what sequence.
Treatments for sunspots
- Medications: Many people treat sunspots with over-the-counter (OTC) skin lighteners or home remedies. However, results of home treatments and commercial creams/skin lighteners can vary and may cause skin irritation, allergic reactions and bleaching of surrounding skin.
- Chemical peels: This involves applying a chemical (derived from plants and fruits) to the skin, loosening the bond that holds the dead skin cells on the surface together. Over time, sunspots fade away, revealing both a softer and smoother appearance. The procedure takes just a few minutes, has minimal discomfort and involves little-to-no downtime. Several treatments may be necessary, and sunscreen is strongly advised following this treatment.
- Microdermabrasion: This is a superficial skin-polishing procedure that exfoliates the top layers of the skin with tiny crystals. It can dramatically improve the appearance of aging skin and decrease sunspots. The results are immediate. Maintenance treatments are required.
- Intense pulsed light (IPL): This is the simplest way to treat sun damage. The IPL machine sends light through the skin, which is absorbed by the melanocytes. These pigmented cells are destroyed and eventually slough off through natural skin-cell turnover. This is a relatively inexpensive, painless and non-invasive procedure. It typically requires several sessions.
- Laser hand rejuvenation: This is an ablative laser modality that removes most sunspots, age-related discoloration and wrinkles by completely removing superficial skin layers in just one session. Because of its amazing effectiveness and depth of treatment, however, laser rejuvenation is more aggressive and usually requires a week of recovery time.
Treatments for hand veins
- Sclerotherapy: Hand sclerotherapy involves a series of small injections into the prominent veins on the back of the hands. By injecting a few drops of a safe sclerosing solution into the veins present just under the skin, the walls of the vein collapse and are naturally absorbed by the body. These veins are not essential to normal circulation and the body will then “re-route” blood flow safely through healthy veins. Each session only takes about 30 minutes and is virtually painless. The results are dramatic and long lasting.
- Injectable fillers: When these fillers are injected into the hands, they can plump up the skin and give it a more youthful appearance. Fillers contain a unique formulation that stimulates collagenesis (the production of new collagen). Almost immediately, this will result in increased volume for natural looking wrinkle-correction that will last a year or more in most patients.
The prevention of sunspots requires sun avoidance. However, it is not possible for anyone to stay out of sunlight completely. If you have to go out, protect your skin using sunscreen lotions or creams with a high SPF rating. This can keep your skin protected from the harmful rays of the sun for a considerable amount of time.
Ultimately, the effects of aging are inevitable, but who says you have to look your age? Simple procedures such as hand rejuvenation will help you to wave goodbye to those golden years and allow you to regain your youth!
For more information, visit North Shore Medi Spa or to schedule a free VISIA Skin Analysis call 516-441-5110.