Reversing Sun Damage Where It Counts: Treatments for Hands and Neck
Our facial moisturizer contains SPF. So does our BB cream and foundation. Once we’ve “got our face on,” we are armed with layers of sun protection. But, we are skipping out on protecting our hands and necks, which after years of sun exposure, can be the sounding alarm exposing our true age. Sure, maybe they get an initial swipe of sunscreen at the beginning of the day, but our exposed skin is baking in the UV rays long after that protective screen has worn off. Thankfully the same great non-invasive treatments for facial rejuvenation can also be used to turn back the clock on these telltale areas.
For expert insight on all things sun damaged, I spoke with Dr. Jeffrey J. Roth, board-certified plastic surgeon based in Las Vegas.
Mary Cunningham: What do you typically advise for patients who are seeking to alleviate sun damage in these noticeable areas?
Dr. Roth: My practice is in Las Vegas, NV, where we see a significant amount of sun damaged skin. Generally, we counsel patients to try to stay out of the sun, cover themselves when possible, use and re-apply sunscreen, and hydrate constantly.
Now there is greater consciousness about this issue. In past years, you would see construction workers without shirts on. Now everyone is covered up, most even wearing long sleeves. Some areas however, including the face, neck, and hands—still tend to get more exposure.
MC: Which treatments do you recommend for sun damaged skin?
Dr. Roth: One part of the solution is to address skin texture and contrast irregularities. This can be addressed with either of the following procedures; Photorejuvenation, which uses intense pulsed light (IPL) technology to help reduce common skin woes including sun spots and/or laser resurfacing, which is an effective way of reversing the damaging effects of sun exposure with either ablative or non-ablative lasers.
Chemical peels are available in light, medium or deep peels that remove the skin’s top layer to improve sun damaged skin and evenness of color and texture.
Lastly, microdermabrasions which gently exfoliate the skin while stimulating collagen growth to revel healthy new skin. Choice of these modalities depends on how aggressive someone wants to get. We have had good results with chemical peels.
MC: Is there a typical client for hand and neck treatments?
Dr. Roth: Usually it is the patient with significant sun exposure, who realized that those areas seem to be aging faster than the non-exposed areas. Some people look to these areas for signs of aging so as to guess the patient’s true age. (Fun fact: In China, people look at earlobes to do so.)
MC: Is there a common request you hear a lot?
Dr. Roth: We frequently get requests for rejuvenation of the hands. This is often the case with models, but even more so here in Las Vegas with casino dealers. Their hands are in the spotlight the entire time, and folks take pride in how they look.
We have found in our practice that placement of a filler can be very effective in softening up the appearance of the hands and giving them a more youthful appearance. We then add the aforementioned peel for the contrast irregularities, and the patients are generally quite pleased with the results.
MC: Do patients seem just as attuned to their neck and hands as they are with their face? Or is it only a smaller number who think about all areas where their skin is showing its true age?
Dr. Roth: It really depends on the patient - their occupation, their hobbies, how particular they are about their appearance, etc. People are usually more concerned about their face, but we have been seeing more attention being paid to the neck and hands as well.
MC: Are there precautions that you give your patients, or advice for long-term success at keeping sun damage at bay?
Dr. Roth: Generally to follow the advice above (stay out of the sun, cover themselves when they can, use and re-apply sunscreen, hydrate themselves constantly). We also recommend a topical vitamin A and vitamin C.
MC: Just curious (thinking about myself here!), what about the forearms? Do you treat them too?
Dr. Roth: Yes, we also treat the forearms. Less with fillers, but again peels can work well here.
Thank you, Dr. Roth. It’s reassuring to know that we have options; for what we can do at home, as well as treatments to seek when it’s time for professional help.