Treating the Veins in Aging Hands
Another alternative is laser removal of unwanted hand veins, a technique favored by Roxanne Guy, MD, a plastic surgeon in Melbourne, Fla., and another speaker.
In her study of the technique, called laser ablation, she and a colleague performed the treatment on 28 women and 54 hands in all, reporting the results in Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery. A laser is placed on the tip of a wire, which is threaded into the vein. As the wire is slowly pulled out, the laser energy heats the veins and damages the vessel wall's inner lining. Over the next few weeks, the vein dies.
The patients, aged 41 to 68, were followed for up to 31 months. "Patient satisfaction was high," Guy says. Post-procedure swelling, which was expected, usually resolved within two weeks, she says. On average, most patients had four veins per hand treated. One woman had a skin burn where the laser exited. Even so, all 28 said they were satisfied with the results, Guy says.
Aging Hand: Caveats
Not everyone is a candidate to rejuvenate their hands, Vleggaar says. Among the conditions that may disqualify a patient, he says, are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, hand tremors, or Parkinson's disease.
Not everyone thinks the dermal fillers should be used in the hands. On its web site, the Physicians Coalition for Injectable Safety states that dermal fillers shouldn't be used in the hands. Fat injections in the hands, however, are viewed as acceptable by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
What Price for Pretty Hands?
"It can get quite costly, between lasers and injectables, to treat a hand," DiBernardo says. "Overall, the cost could be $3,000-$5,000, if you did everything."
For patients on a budget, DiBernardo suggests they "set up a treatment protocol according to the problem you would like to tackle."
Or if you want the most return for just one treatment, he suggests correcting the contour with filler. "It's a very dramatic result and you can see it right away." Most patients who have their pigment problems treated seem happy too, he says.
While the fillers are temporary, Guy says she believes her vein removal procedure is permanent, "but we have only followed these people for a couple years."