You’ve been so good about taking care of your face — slathering on sunscreen, remembering your night cream and making time to get facials regularly. But your hands may be making you look older than you’d like.
“Hand anti-aging measures should start early in life, because the face and the hands are the most sun and environmentally exposed areas of the body,” said dermatologist Cheryl Burgess.
If you’re noticing sun spots and bulging veins, you could always try treating your hands with the same over-the-counter TLC as your face. But some people are taking more drastic measures and turning to a cosmetic procedure that can give their hands a more youthful appearance: hand lifts, aka hand rejuvenation.
“Just as we can revolumize the face, we can do the same thing with the hands,” said Joshua Zeichner, a dermatologist and associate professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital.
If you’re thinking a hand lift is a face lift for your hands, you’re not quite on the right track. We talked to experts to explain the process.
Why your hands look so much older than your face
Your hand are frequently exposed to the elements — and they have a more delicate composition than you might have realized.
Dermatologist Janiene Luke, an associate professor at Loma Linda University, explained what’s going on with your body: “As our collagen production decreases with age, the skin can become thinner, making underlying veins and tendons more visible. We can also lose fat and subcutaneous tissue, while the small muscles that are in the hands can be prone to atrophy. Sun damage can become cumulative over time, causing sun spots to become more prominent. And some people have a tendency to have small benign growths on the hands, too.”
Who’s getting hand rejuvenation, anyway?
These treatments target the backs of the hands, not palms or fingers.
“Good candidates for these treatments may be people who have noticed that the skin on their hands has become very thin and that their bones and blood vessels are prominent, giving the hands a skeletal appearance,” said dermatologist Arianne Shadi Kourosh.
Dermatologist DiAnne Davis said patients are increasingly seeking out hand treatments.
“With the exception of the face, the hands are one of the most expressive parts of the body,” she said. “Given that everyone is working from home more often these days, their hands are a lot more visible on their computer and tablet screens, especially if they use them while talking.”
What happens during a hand lift — and what it costs
You may have a pretty good understanding of the nip-and-tuck procedure that’s part of a face lift, but a hand lift is an entirely different matter. It’s not a surgical procedure, and the skin is never cut. In fact, nothing is “lifted” at all. Instead, doctors will most likely recommend a course of treatment that includes filler injections.
The process starts with some numbing cream or lidocaine, Davis explained. Then come the injections.
“Small entry points are made on the back of the hands in between tendons and bones, and small amounts of either hyaluronic acid filler or biostimulating agents are slowly injected,” she said. “The product is then gently massaged so that it can be evenly distributed throughout the entire back of the hands.”
A hand lift can cost anywhere between $2,000 and $4,000, depending on what is done and the volume of filler that’s used, according to facial plastic surgeon Michael Somenek. He said people who receive hyaluronic acid filler, which is the most common, can expect to see results last for nine months to a year.
If you’re considering a hand lift, it’d be a good idea to do some research and probably to have a consultation with a doctor.
“It often takes several syringes to give you enough volume to make a meaningful improvement,” Zeichner said. “The cost per vial of the filler ranges depending on what you’re using and what part of the country you live in. On average, costs vary from $800 to $1,000 per syringe. Optimal results may take several syringes.”
Hand lifts can get even more complicated
Some patients may benefit from a combination of hand treatments, including use of a laser to target a specific area.
“I tend to do a couple of procedures for hand rejuvenation,” Luke said. “I’ll inject filler but also do something like Intense Pulsed Light, a treatment that targets the melanin in the sun spots and addresses the surface of the skin to improve its overall appearance.”
Zeichner said laser treatments work well for people who have dark spots or crepey skin, and that there are different lasers for different issues.
“We have lasers that can lighten dark spots and others that can resurface the skin,” he said. “My go-to laser for the back of the hands ... works by punching microscopic holes in the skin, creating a controlled wound and taking advantage of the skin’s natural wound healing process. This stimulates collagen to thicken the foundation of the skin, and it also helps the skin shed darkly pigmented cells to lighten hyperpigmentation and even skin tone.”
Sound like a bit much? Improve your hand care routine at home.
“None of these treatments are a substitute for good skin care habits over time,” Kourosh said. “It’s important to moisturize the hands and apply sunscreen each morning to the backs of the hands in order to prevent and minimize the damage from the sun and harsh exposures.”
Davis suggested using moisturizers with vitamin A derivatives to help stimulate collagen production. If you want to boost your hand care regimen even more, she said you might want to consider supplements of biotin, also called vitamin B₇, which can help with the appearance and strength of nails. “Certain lightening ingredients, such as kojic acid or niacinamide, also can help reduce the appearance of brown spots on the back of the hands,” she said.
Dermatologists previously paired up with people who use their hands for a living to give us their best product recommendations for dry hands, and here are their top picks:
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.