The appearance of your hands can reveal your age, study finds

June 05, 2006

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Want to know a person's real age? Just look at their hands, reports a study in the June issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). According to the study, most people can accurately tell a person's age by viewing only their hands.

"A primary motivation to have plastic surgery is to look and feel better, often by seeking a younger looking appearance. However, looking younger after your facelift or eyelid surgery can conflict with aged hands that simply do not match the face," said Roxanne Guy, MD, ASPS president-elect. "After the face, hands are the second most visible, tell-tale sign of one's age. If your goal is to look more youthful or you are bothered by the appearance of your hands, you may seriously want to consider hand rejuvenation."

In the study, people examined unaltered photographs of female hands and were asked to estimate the women's ages, i.e., younger than 20 years, 20 to 30 years, 30 to 40 years, etc. In the majority of cases, participants were able to accurately estimate the age of each woman in the unaltered photographs.

Participants were also asked to compare digitally altered photographs of female hands - blemishes and hand veins were removed or jewelry and nail polish were added - to unaltered photographs to assess which hands looked younger. The majority of participants felt that the altered photos of women's hands appeared younger. However, alterations to photos of very elderly hands - characterized by thin skin, age spots, wrinkles, deformity, veins and prominent joints - did not change the participants' ability to distinguish the person's age.

Overall, the physical characteristic which most commonly gave away age was prominent hand veins.

In altered images where hand veins were removed, participants significantly felt hands looked younger. Fullness and a lack of wrinkles and veins characterized the youngest looking hands. Nail polish and jewelry were also found to make hands appear younger looking.

"The good news is, although your hands may reveal more about your age than you desire, there are remedies out there," said Dr. Guy. "A good medical skincare regimen that focuses on the hands can be highly effective in maintaining skin thickness and fullness. Non-surgical procedures like laser treatments and chemical peels can reduce age spots. Fat injections can be used to plump up hands and reduce the visibility of veins and laser ablation of unwanted hand veins can reduce veins."
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For referrals to ASPS Member Surgeons certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, call 888-4-PLASTIC (475-2784) or visit plasticsurgery.org where you can also learn more about cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons is the largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons in the world. With more than 6,000 members, the society is recognized as a leading authority and information source on cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. ASPS comprises 94 percent of all board-certified plastic surgeons in the United States. Founded in 1931, the society represents physicians certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery or The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

Editor's Note: Photographs for this study are available. Please contact ASPS Public Relations at 847-228-9900 or e-mail media@plasticsurgery.org.

American Society of Plastic Surgeons

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