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Hand Makeover Doc

Hand Makeover Thanks to all we know about diet, exercise and modern medicine, a 60-year-old woman in 2005 – provided she takes care of herself – can more closely resemble a 45-year-old. Throw in a little Botox or Restylane and we can shove the apparent age back even farther. Just take a gander at Joan Collins, Priscilla Presley, Ursula Andress and Raquel Welch, all of whom are grandmothers.

Often, among women who have had surgical rejuvenations, bony hands that look more like gardening hand tools, are the only marker of advancing years.

“Many women in their 40s, 50s and 60s come in and ask ‘Is there anything you can do about these old looking hands?’” says Dennis Hurwitz, M.D., a board certified plastic surgeon in Pittsburg.

The solution? Something women often dread – their own body fat. Because there is no shortage of that filler material, more women are opting for hand makeovers.

Explains Dr. Hurwitz: “One’s own body fat is an ideal filler substance. The cells are very small and fragile and kept alive by a delicate network of blood vessels. After about age 50, the hands begin to look aged, with the vessels and veins becoming more visible through the skin.”

To complete that dreaded garden rake look, hollowing, lines, wrinkles and general loss of tissue and fat happens with age. Unfortunately, experts say, little can be done to prevent aging hands because women who have it are usually genetically predisposed to it.

Hand Makeover How does one’s own fat contribute to a hand makeover? The procedure in cosmetic and plastic surgery is known as an “autologous fat transplantation” or “microlipoinjection.” Fat and a small amount of blood are extracted with a large syringe and a small cannula, the same instrument used in liposuction. The fat is taken from a woman’s stomach, thighs, buttocks or elsewhere and reinjected back into the hands after the blood, liquid and fat are separated. Once the fat is ready, it is reinjected in a series of smaller injections. The surgeon usually injects more than is needed because the body absorbs some. No bandages or surgical dressing are needed after the procedure, although there may be some swelling, bruising or mild redness in both the donor and recipient sites. Patients are asked to stay out of the sun and can apply surgical makeup with sun block.

Results vary. Some patients say their hands still look younger up to a year although some volume will dissipate after six months. So additional injections are usually necessary to maintain the fresh appearance of the hands.

The upside: unlike many other procedures that require a long recovery time, a hand makeover with fat grafting delivers instant results with almost zero down time.

“Hands go from bony to buff in one hour,” says Dr. Hurwitz.

If age spots, sun damage or other discoloration is present, Dr. Hurwitz offers pulsed light therapy.

Then, only your birth certificate will betray your true age.

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