Most laser skin resurfacing techniques were developed for use on facial skin. However, many of the same devices can be used to rejuvenate hands as well. Skin on the hands takes a beating from UV radiation and often shows signs such as age spots (liver spots) even earlier than the face. These spots are not harmful but do tend to grow and darken over time with additional sun exposure. In addition, the skin on the hands may become finely lined and lose tone as the amount of collagen present in the dermis decreases.
Age Spot Removal
Laser treatments such as the Q switched Yag focus on breaking down melanin and causing dark spots to fade. The number and intensity of treatments required depends on the depth and darkness of the hyperpigmentation. The spots generally become darker and may redden before they begin to resolve. Some patients experience bruising, slight bleeding, and crusting of the treated areas depending on the light wavelength used.
Others lasers, such as Fraxel devices resurface the skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines on the hands. The fractional laser removes many tiny pinpoint columns of tissue to stimulate the skin to heal itself with new cells. In ideal circumstances, laser skin resurfacing may promote the formation of new collagen to make hands appear slightly smoother and plumper. However, restoration of sufficient volume to make the hands appear more youthful may require the use of cosmetic dermal fillers as well.
Skin on the back of the hands is particularly delicate, so not every laser device used on the face is necessarily suitable for hand rejuvenation. For example, ablative lasers with settings used for deep skin repair of atrophic scars aren’t the best choice for removing superficial age spots. Patients should seek out a dermatologist who specializes in rejuvenation of sensitive areas such as the chest, neck, and hands. This helps ensure that the correct equipment is used for the procedure.
Non-Laser Light Based Therapy
For simple cases of hyperpigmentation, Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) may offer acceptable results with less discomfort than some laser skin resurfacing techniques tend to cause. The typical aftereffects of IPL are slight reddening that looks and feels like a sunburn. IPL settings used for sun spot removal focus light waves on the upper layers of the skin. These pulses of light are absorbed by areas where melanin has accumulated. The energy from the light waves is converted into heat that damages the cells. Then, this damaged skin layer flakes off over the next few weeks allowing normally pigmented skin to take its place.