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. This is due to an over-production of melanin in the skin’s effort to protect itself from the UV light.
As we age, our hands become thinner as the natural fat pads on the backs of the hand fade. The sun accelerates this loss of fat tissue and skin elasticity. This results in wrinkled, discolored skin, making the veins more prominent and distinguishable.
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 imbalance 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 a 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 on the surface together. Over time, sun spots fade away, revealing both a softer and smoother appearance. The procedure takes just a few minutes, has minimum 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 sun spots. 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 just under the skin into the vein, the walls of the vein collapse and are naturally absorbed by the body. These veins are not essential to 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 many patients.