Defy Your Age - - Archived

If a younger you is what you want, don’t forget your hands.

You may have besieged your face with herculean efforts to reverse the inevitable effects of time and aging. Most likely, those tricks and treatments have obliterated pesky spots and smoothed away crinkled skin allowing your face to emerge radiant and youthful. But, your hands, which share the same exposure to the harmful elements of sun and oxidative stress as your face—often without a stitch of protection—can reveal your age all too quickly.

“If you want to look believably young, you can’t have a young face and old hands,” said Dr. Brent Moelleken, a double board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon practicing in Beverly Hills and Santa Barbara, California (DrBrent.com). “We do great work on the face, but the hands are the new frontier. You can really reverse the hands of time with just a few treatments.”

These hand-rejuvenating procedures don’t involve scalpels, surgery and sutures (oh my!). Rather, they employ the use of lasers, radiofrequency, fillers and more, with zero downtime. Experts typically suggest a combination of these treatments for the best results. Following is a list of ways to age-defy your paws. The number of treatments needed (somewhere between three and five), results and costs vary by treatment, of course. As a rule, you should only consider establishments that have qualified, board-certified cosmetic physicians, registered nurses or medical directors on hand.

Tighten: The older we get, the thinner our skin gets as collagen is depleted and the sun’s rays and other harmful oxidants causes wrinkling. To tighten up loose, sagging skin, you can choose a series of collagen-boosting fractional laser treatments that will also smooth out wrinkles and/or undergo Thermage, which uses radiofrequency energy to strengthen existing collagen and “lift” the skin, making it more supple and even.

Flatten: All too often, veins in the hands start to protrude as you age and unless you’re a shredded body builder, you’re probably not excited to see your veins popping out. Sclerotherapy can help. Typically used as a treatment for varicose veins, sclerotherapy involves injecting a medication directly into the veins to collapse them, making your skin appear flatter and smoother.

Volumize: For hands that have significant collagen loss to the point they appear bony, filler will do just nicely. Common fillers used in the hands include Radiesse, Juvederm, Perlane, Restylane or your own body fat. Plumping up the hands with fillers make them appear more naturally youthful. But be warned, said Dr. Brent, who received his training from Harvard, Yale, UCLA and UCSF, “Some permanent fillers are risky. Once they are in, they act like oil-staining cloths and cannot be removed. … I’ve seen some hands that have swelled up like hamburgers.” Even with a filler like Restylane, if not done by a highly trained and experienced professional, the results could look lumpy and strange.

Erase: Your hands, like your face, are susceptible to brown spots, age spots, sun damage, etc. Resurfacing lasers like IPL (intense pulsed light), AFT (Advance Fluorescence Technology) and fractional lasers (like CO2 and Erbium) can blast away brown and red spots. These spots turn darker at first and then they will eventually flake off like a potato chip, revealing even-toned skin beneath.

Maintenance: Dr. Brent suggests going in for follow up treatments at least twice a year. “Because the skin on the hands is so delicate, you can only chip away at it little by little,” he said. “You can’t immediately erase the signs of aging like you can on your face.” One tip for maintenance on your hands is to do microdermabrasion every six weeks to thicken the skin and help keep it smooth.

Protect/Prevent: “You don’t want to get a paint job on your car and then never wash it,” said Dr. Brent. He advised that the same regimen you do for your face each day, you should do for your hands (sans the toner), especially when it comes to sunscreen. Sunscreen needs to be applied on a regular basis throughout the day because you wash your hands frequently. And for heaven’s sake, don’t smoke. Smoking puts out tons of oxidative stress on your hands, causing them to discolor and wrinkle.

If you care about looking youthful, take the steps necessary to present a full picture of youth. “The hands used to give away a patient’s age, but with the new laser technology available today, you will have to look somewhere else,” said Dr. Brent.

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