We spend a lot of time scrutinizing the appearance of our faces. We seek treatments and procedures to effectively reverse the signs of aging we see in the mirror and in photos. There’s another part of our bodies that is just as exposed to elements and, if left untreated, can betray our age just as quickly as the lines and wrinkles on our face—our hands. Call Nunnally Dermatology in Baton Rouge, LA to experience the best in hand rejuvenation.
What Causes Hands to Age?
Most of us rarely give thought to the visible signs of aging on our hands. Besides our faces, our hands are most exposed to the elements, and we often aren’t as diligent about sun protection on our hands. We wash our hands so often that any residual sunscreen or leftover facial products that might protect them is gone within an hour.
We spend a lot of time making sure our face and neck are protected from the sun. Many of our daytime lotions and even makeup foundations contain sunscreen. We don’t pay the same attention to our hands. Every time we go outside, drive in our cars or sit in a sunny office, we expose our hands to the sun’s harmful rays.
Over time, the sun will cause pigment changes in our hands. These changes will appear as dark spots over the surface of our skin. This is one of the biggest age giveaways there is.
If you look at young, healthy hands, you can barely make out veins, bones or tendons. The soft tissue is plump and hydrated, skin is smooth and wrinkles around knuckles are minimal. This healthy look is because we have ample supplies of collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid to keep the overall appearance of our hands young. As we age, our supply of all three diminishes.
Collagen is the most prominent protein in the human body. It’s thought of as the building block of our skin, and you probably associate it with what keeps our faces looking smooth and young. The same is true of the skin everywhere else on our bodies. Collagen forms a strong middle layer of our skin, keeping it thick and the underlying layer of fat in place.
As collagen declines, our skin can appear thinner, allowing the color of our veins to show through the surface. The foundation of our skin becomes disrupted, which allows our surface skin to fall into those crevices and dips that form in the middle layers of our dermis. The collagen that was holding our fat layers in place deteriorates, causing atrophy of the padding that keeps our hands looking young.
Another protein found in our skin, elastin works in tandem with collagen to keep our hands looking smooth. Elastin gets its name from how elastic it allows our skin to be. When a young person pinches skin on their hands and lets go, there is immediately zero evidence the skin was ever disrupted. Do the same test on someone in their 50s and you can see how the skin may remain bunched or wrinkled after release.
When elastin production slows, it makes it easier for our skin to fall into areas of lost volume because it doesn’t have the strength to fight gravity any longer. The areas around our knuckles don’t smooth out after our hands are flexed, and lines form at our wrists, all adding to an aged appearance.
Hyaluronic acid is a naturally produced sugar that can hold 1000 times its weight in water. Its molecules lie in the middle layers of our skin, attracting and holding water, giving hands a plump and hydrated look and feel. Even when a teenager’s hands feel dry to them, they don’t appear as dry as an older person’s hands. This is because they have plenty of hyaluronic acid that’s hanging on to moisture under the surface of their skin.
As our levels of hyaluronic acid deplete, we don’t have the plumpness of hydration to keep our hands looking full, dewy and hydrated. When aging hands dry, they look more wrinkled than ever and take more effort to rehydrate.
Visible Signs of Aging
The passing of time will change our hands. What once looked young, smooth, plump and dewy can look dull, gaunt and dry. The most common signs of aging on our hands are:
- Visible ligaments both at rest and during movement
- Prominent appearance of bones
- Visible veins
- Increase in bottom knuckle wrinkles
- Wrinkles forming at the base of the hands near the wrists
- Lost skin elasticity on the back of the hands
- Dark spot from sun damage
- Discoloration and hyperpigmentation
Age is the inevitable cause of our hands’ deteriorating appearance. There are other factors that play a role in how quickly and dramatically this part of our body can show the years. Most of these factors are the same as those that age the skin on our faces because they speed the decline of collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid. These factors include:
- Sun exposure
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Not enough water intake
- Constant hand washing without moisturizer
- Repeated use of hand sanitizer
- Diets high in sugar and processed foods
- Prolonged unmanaged stress
What Is Hand Rejuvenation?
Hand rejuvenation is a multi-faceted treatment to address the multiple signs of aging on the hands. This comprehensive treatment will address lost volume and discoloration while including a plan to reduce further aging.
Replacing Lost Volume
The first step in hand rejuvenation is to address the lost volume that causes the veins, bones and ligaments to be so visible. A dermal filler called Radiesse is injected into the pockets where a layer of fat used to keep our hands looking full. A skilled doctor or practitioner will make precise injections to increase volume while producing a natural-looking result.
What Is Radiesse?
Radiesse is a dermal filler made of synthetic calcium hydroxylapatite microspheres. The filler is similar to the calcium found in your teeth and bones but suspended in a gel. When injected, it immediately fills the areas of lost volume. Right after injection, the body absorbs the gel, leaving behind the microspheres that act as a scaffold to support the weakened structure of your hands’ skin and promote higher production of collagen.
As your body creates more collagen, results improve and remain beyond the life of the filler. When collagen increases, so do elastin and hyaluronic acid. Your hands will become smoother and more supple.
Lost volume isn’t the only sign of aging that appears on our hands. Hand rejuvenation includes tackling the dark spots that form on our skin as we get older. One of the most effective and comfortable treatments for reducing the appearance of these spots is cryotherapy or the use of liquid nitrogen. This process uses liquid nitrogen to freeze the age spots and destroy the extra pigment that causes them.
When the area heals, that area of the skin will appear lighter. This can effectively and comfortably be used on a single spot or a grouping of spots. Other effective treatments for addressing pigmentation issues:
- Bleaching creams
- Intense pulsed light treatments
- Chemical peels
- Combination of modalities
The final step in treatment is preventative. The best hand rejuvenation treatments will involve a take home cream to continue helping the skin look younger and prevent the early reappearance of certain symptoms like discoloration. A medical-grade cream like Obagi Sunfader is a topical treatment that contains hydroquinone to further lighten dark spots. Once you’ve had your initial lightening treatment, this cream will continue to even out discolorations.
Sunfader also contains sunscreen, which is the single best favor you can do the skin on your hands going forward. Remember, the sun breaks down collagen quickly and can darken the pigment in spots on your skin. It’s recommended you carry a travel-sized tube of sunscreen with you so you can reapply during the day and avoid further sun damage.
What to Expect
When you and your doctor or specialist have decided this treatment will address your concerns, you won’t have to do anything to prepare for treatment. You may be asked to stop taking any blood-thinning medications for a few weeks before to reduce the small likelihood of bruising. These medications can be prescription or over the counter and include herbal supplements.
The Day of Your Appointment
When you arrive, a topical numbing cream will be applied to the area that will be treated with Radiesse and cryotherapy to ensure you remain comfortable throughout your appointment. Your doctor will decide which treatment to do first. To address the lost volume, once your skin is numb, your doctor will make small, strategic injections to allow the smooth gel to fill the areas of lost volume.
To address dark spots, your doctor will use a cotton-tipped swab to apply the liquid nitrogen. As the nitrogen works, it destroys the extra pigment which will eventually flake off revealing brighter, more evenly toned skin.
The biggest aftercare instruction you’ll be given is to always protect your hands from the sun. Depending on the treatment you’ve had to reduce the appearance of spots on your hands, your skin will be more sensitive to the sun.
Your doctor will give you instructions for using the take-home treatment cream to maximize your results. It will contain sunscreen, but you must apply your own sunscreen to make sure coverage is continuous.
Most of the results are immediate. You will walk in with hands that are showing ligaments, bones, and veins and walk out with restored, fuller volume. This will take years off the age of your hands immediately. The best part about Radiesse is how long the results last. Most clients will see results for up to two years. Your doctor will give you guidance on how often to schedule maintenance appointments.
The cryotherapy will take a few days to a few weeks to fully work because your skin needs time to heal before results are optimal. As you continue to use your take-home cream, your tone will continue to even out and improve. If you find that spots come back, a follow-up treatment is easy and will make your results seem continuous.
Call for a Consultation
The first step to younger-looking hands is to schedule a consultation with an expert in providing real results. Looking your best helps you to feel your best while boosting your self-confidence.
Contact Nunnally Dermatology in Baton Rouge, LA and talk to one of our specialists about how this treatment can revitalize the appearance of your hands so they don’t look older than you feel. You work hard to maintain your appearance, so we believe in working just as hard to help you reach your aesthetic goals. We look forward to helping you on your journey to a happier and healthier you!