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The Anti‑Aging Industry Is Coming For Your Hands

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Feb 6, 2019

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Image courtesy of PacificCoastNews.com

Last week, the US Food and Drug Administration approved two new fillers used to ‘plump up’ people’s hands — Radiesse and Restylane Lyft — which add elasticity and volume to the back of hands. The hand fillers are injected in the area between the wrist and knuckles, and cost between US$650 – US$4000. Which led us to wonder — is the anti-aging industry re-upping their battle against hands? And, is it working?

In 2013, the very unkind term, ‘Madonna Mitts’ came into prominence, after the star who wore her trademark gloves to hide the incongruity between her face and her hands (which actually gave her age away). While plastic surgeons were busy working on faces and necks, it seems like hands became the tell-tale sign of a person’s real age. Which meant that people were starting to see the importance of paying attention to their hands. Since they’re exposed to the sun and the elements a lot more, the argument is that the aging process is multiplied for a person’s hands. Skin loses its elasticity and becomes loose, leading to wrinkles; nails lose their sheen and become ridged. Veiny hands, with valleys between the tendons, became a thing women were dreading.

The idea that hands are accurate markers of age is fairly well-known, with many women moisturizing and caring for them as they do their face. But there has been a definite uptick in hand rejuvenation procedures, chemical peels, and the variety of anti-aging paraphernalia (like these ‘skin rejuvenating gloves’) over the past decade. Since the coining of the phrase Madonna mitts, cosmetic surgeons saw an 18% increase in women having hand surgery.

In India, the process is not uncommon, for those with disposable income and a penchant for plastic surgery. “These hand-rejuvenation procedures should not be seen as extreme measures to fight age. They are more like strict fitness regimens and small surgical alterations to look good,” Delhi-based dermasurgeon Dr. Shehla Agarwal told Times of India.


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In the age of Instagram, where the #engagementring photos are a critical part of the announcement, and manicures have become a high art form, our focus on hands has arguably increased. And since millennials are waiting to get married, the likelihood of people wanting to plump up their hands before the reveal is higher. Hand rejuvenation isn’t just a procedure to fix older-looking hands, but one that women are getting done in anticipation of their age showing.

In 2016, a 35-year-old Kim Kardashian excitedly posted on social media about her procedure that involved “everything from laser technology to microdermabrasion and chemical peels to injectable fillers,” according to the clinic’s website. With media outlets publishing tips on how to get that perfect ring selfie and articles listing the ways you can get your hands ready for engagement season (“just like Meghan Markle!“) it’s becoming clear that hands occupy an increasingly important place in our hierarchy of beauty norms.

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Written By Nadia Nooreyezdan

Nadia Nooreyezdan is The Swaddle’s culture editor. Since graduating from Columbia Journalism School, she spends her time thinking about aliens, cyborgs, and social justice sci-fi. She’s also working on a memoir about her family’s journey from Iran to India.

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