“As dermatologists continue to treat facial aging with much success, patients are increasingly aware of other visible areas of the body — particularly the hands, neck, and the upper part of a woman’s chest — that need to be addressed to avoid looking years older than their face,” says Mary P. Lupo, M.D., a clinical professor of dermatology at Tulane University Medical School. “Hands reveal one’s age second only in frequency to the face and, as in facial skin aging, discoloration of the skin, fine lines, and loss of volume can make the hands look older. Sclerotherapy can help minimize prominent hand veins and significantly improve appearance of the hands.”
Sclerotherapy is a non-surgical procedure that permanently removes unwanted veins and is considered by dermatologists to be the gold standard for the treatment of spider veins. Dermatologists inject a special sclerosing solution with a very fine needle into the blood vessel, which irreversibly alters the vessel wall and causes it to be absorbed by the body so that it fully disappears over time. According to Dr. Lupo, studies show sclerotherapy is more effective and less costly than laser treatments, and it is a relatively inexpensive procedure that can be used in areas of the body other than the legs — including the hands, breasts, and face.
Dr. Lupo advises that the procedure should be performed conservatively, using small injection volumes and treating a limited number of vessels, with repeat injection sessions until the desired cosmetic improvement is safely achieved. Typically, patients require only one to three sessions performed every four to six weeks. The procedure takes just five to 10 minutes to perform on the hands and the results are usually permanent.
Although there is no recuperation period, a pressure bandage needs to be worn 24 hours following the procedure, making delicate work with the hands difficult. Possible side effects include swelling, bruising, discoloration of the skin or, in rare cases, death of living cells or tissue as a result of a lack of blood flow to the hand.
Dr. Lupo cautioned that some patients are not good candidates for the procedure, including patients with a history of phlebitis (inflammation of the veins) of the arm, patients who have undergone a mastectomy with lymph node removal, and those with venous or lymphatic abnormalities of the upper extremity.
“Overall, my patients are extremely pleased with their results and report an improved self-image and overall feeling of well-being that is commonly associated with cosmetic procedures,” says Dr. Lupo. “For patients who want more dramatic outcomes, a multi-pronged approach using other minimally invasive therapies can complement sclerotherapy — such as using laser and light devices to fade skin discoloration or to increase collagen production. We also are exploring the use of injecting a dermal filler into the hands to make them appear fuller and less skeletal.”
To help prevent or slow the progression of aging hands, Dr. Lupo recommends the daily use of a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, avoiding excessive sun exposure and tanning beds, and using topical retinoids.
KEYWORDS: HEALTH/SCIENCE, SCLEROTHERAPY
For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.