By Leah Rumack
In our I Tried It series, columnist Leah Rumack test-drives the latest and buzziest cosmetic procedures. This time around, she says goodbye to “granny hands.”
I’m obsessed with my nails. If they’re chipped, or—worse—if my cuticles are ragged, it will drive me to utter distraction. I’ll look at my hands a thousand times a day—during meetings, on the bus, on the steering wheel—and I will have no peace until I get to the nail doctor, my name for the local manicure bar (my kid actually thinks it’s a doctor. I haven’t bothered correcting him). I can be in sweatpants and a ripped T-shirt, but as long as my hands look good, I’m dressed.
But lately a manicure just hasn’t been enough. No matter how fresh my nails are, my paws look veiny and tired. While I’ve been slathering sunscreen and creams and plumping up this spot and that on my face for years, my neglected, jealous hands were busy turning into withered, crepey claws.
“People usually notice their hands aging in their 40s,” says Lisa Kellett, a real doctor (dermatologist and the owner of DLK on Avenue), “but it can happen even by the mid 30s.”
Kellett says the twin bad guys of aging—sun damage to skin and the inevitable loss of volume in our tissues, especially after menopause—are responsible for the rope-y, speckled look that people experience in their hands. I’m not too bad on the sun spots, but the juiciness of my hands—and their resulting tendons-forward look—has definitely seen better days. There’s only so much Chanel’s Le Lift La Crème Main hand cream can do. I need to bring in the big guns.
Non-surgical hand rejuvenation treatments have been growing in popularity over the last several years, says Kellett, and is one of her clinic’s most popular treatments with men.
“People are just more aware now that you can actually do things for hands,” she says. “Treating them makes people feel more confident in social and business situations where you’re using your hands a lot.”
Hand rejuvenation usually is some combination of addressing the hyperpigmentation on the backs of hands, often with lasers, injecting the hands with skin-smoothing moisturizing substances like the hyaluronic-acid-based Skinboosters Vital (Restylane) or, for a serious volume boost, injecting hands with a longer lasting product like Radiesse.
In my case, Kellett decides that the Skinboosters will be enough and signs me up for three treatments ($400-$600 each, depending on how much product you need), two to four weeks apart. The results will last about six months before I’d probably need a top up.
“This is a fabulously hydrating product,” nurse Diana Phillips tells me, as she inserts a cannula into the back of my hand. While many places use multiple needle injections (ow!) for hand treatments, DLK uses a cannula, which is a thin, blunt tool that you only need to be poked with once and that can be moved around a larger area under the skin. They then insert a syringe into the cannula and fan the product across the back of the hands. It still hurts—it feels like getting an IV inserted, and the “fanning” looks a bit more like sawing, but there’s lidocaine mixed in with the booster, so after the first fan my hand thankfully starts to go numb.
I can see the difference immediately—my hands start to look like succulent little tenderloin steaks. The main potential side effects are bruising, swelling and lumpiness, but I experience none of those; I’m just a bit sore the day of treatment. The one downside is that as my tissues are slowly juiced up, I start to see old scars that I haven’t noticed in years—damn you, scratchy cat, circa 1993!—but my hands still look much better overall as they shed their talons-esque appearance, so I decide to take the win. After a couple of weeks, the product starts to settle and it’s time for my next layer, and then, a few weeks later, one more.
“You’re an old hand at this,” Phillips jokes (oh, ha ha!). After the third treatment, my refreshed hands are finally living up to their manicure.
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