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How Home Remedies (and Science) Can Help Rejuvenate Aging Hands

Yes, you actually may be able to make them look more youthful.

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photo illustration of aging hands surrounded by butterflies and flowers
Valero Doval
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So, there I was, having lunch with a friend when two of her friends came into the restaurant. They stopped by our table and introductions were made. One of the other women was also named Linda and I commented that our name is out of style, saying, “Nobody’s named their kid Linda for over 40 years.”

She said, “You look too young to be a Linda,” and before I could respond, the other woman, — a total stranger to me — quickly said: “No, she doesn’t! Look at her hands!”

Okay, I’m sure we can all agree that was an incredibly rude comment. But questionable manners aside, it was true. I do have bony, bulgy-veined hands. A side effect from, well, aging.

Just like our faces, over time our hands lose fat and overall volume. Skin wrinkles and loses elasticity. Sun damage appears. Out pop those veins and bones. But there are things we can do with both home remedies and medical procedures.

Brown spots can be reduced by using over-the-counter 2 percent hydroquinone products. Retinols, also over-the-counter, or Retinoids, their stronger, prescription-only cousins, are both forms of vitamin A that help decrease wrinkles and increase collagen. Massaging hands with coconut or olive oil, then wearing cotton gloves overnight, means waking up with softer skin.

Or just mix sugar and lemon juice for an at-home exfoliation formula. The sugar removes dead skin cells and the lemon juice can lighten dark spots. I’ve mowed my way through all these easy options. And, yes, there have been some good results.

But getting rid of protruding veins? Or all those bony protrusions? Not so easy. My friend JoAnn suggested using heavy-duty concealer on my veins. Then she warned me I'd have to reapply it every time I washed my hands.

“So, whenever I shake hands, I might get makeup on someone?”

“Probably,” she said.

I ruled out concealer.

Maybe it was time to up the ante and try something more medical. Fortunately, when you google remove visible veins on hands … you get a zillion results. One of those results led me to Dr. Luis Navarro, founder and medical director of The Vein Treatment Center in New York City. "You don’t need those veins,” he said, looking at my hands. “They’re superficial.”

In his charming Barcelona accent, he explained sclerotherapy and how a tiny needle is used to inject a mild chemical solution into a vein. The solution gently irritates the vein, causing it to collapse. The entire procedure takes 15 to 20 minutes and some veins can disappear immediately.

Afterward, you wear compression gloves for 12 hours. “Most people require one to three treatments, but many times the veins never come back,” Navarro added. “And if they do, it’s years later. The procedure keeps growing in popularity.”

Sclerotherapy is also used on leg veins but it’s not inexpensive as it's $1,000 for the first hand treatment and $750 for each session after that. But it might be worth saving up because: you never have to come back.

Navarro also told me that veins are often hereditary and “more frequently from the mother’s side.”

Thank you, Vivien Yellin.

Another hurray-for-modern-medicine option is dermal fillers made of hyaluronic acid — a substance often used in beauty and skincare products. Fillers add volume to the tops of your hands, great for masking veins and plumping up those sunken areas between skeletal bones.

Bernie Blanks, a nurse practitioner at Advanced Aesthetics in Las Vegas, sees patients in New York every two months. Instead of a needle that requires numerous pokes, he prefers using a blunt-tip cannula, a thin tube that only requires one injection point.

“It’s more comfortable for the patient with less risk of bruising, which can be a side effect of any hands procedure,” he says. Filler only takes one session for results that can last over a year and generally requires one vial of filler per hand at a cost of $600 per vial. However, a report from the National Institutes of Health cautions that “it is paramount that the injector possesses a profound understanding of the anatomy of the hand.”

Which translates into: Get doctors who really know what they’re doing.

“With all the ligaments, nerves, vascular structures, make sure you go to an expert,” says nurse practitioner Blanks. Word-of-mouth and online reviews are great go-to's for finding an expert.

Another more invasive procedure for plumping up hands is grafting fat from a fuller part of your body. (Hello thighs; hello stomach.) However, according to research by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center: “Structural fat grafting for hands can be a delicate procedure because youthful-looking hands look full, not fat. The goal is to make the skin look and feel thicker, obscuring veins and tendons but not hiding them completely.”

I called a plastic surgeon’s office and his helpful assistant explained how my hands would be overfilled with fat because 25 to 40 percent would be slowly reabsorbed. While I was picturing chubby hands looking like boxing gloves, she gave me the price: Depending on your particular needs, fat transfers start at $4,500 if you don’t use general anesthesia.

I hung up and decided: “I’ll pass.”

I know it would be cheaper to accept myself and embrace my hands with love and affection as signs of a life well-lived. I’d like to be that wise, realistic person. But I admit it. I’ve always been squeamish looking at them. My veins and boniness kinda creep me out. Along with insults from strangers.

If I could roll the clock back to the 1960s, I’d advise Young Linda to be diligent about applying daily dobs of sunblock on her hands. Maybe they’d look better now. But since time travel is not an option, I’ll focus on what is doable. However, at some point, I’ll probably be scheduling an appointment for filler or sclerotherapy. Until then, I can always stick my hands in my pockets.

 
Do your own aging hands bother you? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments below.

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