Fat grafting through an injectable technique has enjoyed widespread popularity over the past decade. Because of its ubiquitous presence throughout the human body and its relatively easy extraction by liposuction, fat injections have been done in just about every external feature of the human body. In addition to its volumizing capability, such injected fat has also been shown to have some skin rejuvenation properties as well.
Aging of the hands is characterized by loss of fat and skeletonization of its structural components with thinning and wrinkling of the overlying skin. The introduction of one’s fat into the dorsum of the hands, therefore, may be viewed as the best form of hand rejuvenation. The fat reinflates the back of the hands and as yet unknown factors contained within the fat contributes to skin rejuvenation as well.
In the October 2017 issue of the European Journal of Plastic Surgery an article entitled ‘Hand Rejuvenation with Fat Grafting: A 12-year Single-Surgeon Experience’. In this article, the authors present their protocol for hand fat grafting with over a decade of clinical experience in doing it in 65 patients. Fat is harvested in a standard fashion and is prepared without centrifugation. (decanting) It is injected in a proximal to distal approach above the dorsal deep fascia and between the 1st and 5th ray. The average amount of fat injected ranged from 10 to 30 ccs. The majority of patients (84%) were satisfied. Picture results at one year show that they average fat take was high. Other than some temporary prolonged swelling in a few patients, no long-term complications were seen.
This clinical paper with good patient volumes show that fat takes fairly well in the thin tissues of the back of the hand. This may seem a bit surprising given that the natural fat layer is very scant in this body area. The biggest issue in fat grafting to the hands in my experience is not how well the fat takes but in making sure it has been placed in a smooth a layer as possible to avoid lumps or an irregular contour. I find that digital molding of the fat or using a roller helps in smoothing out the fat injectate.
With fat grafting for hand rejuvenation, it should not be forgotten to treat the outer skin as well. Fat injections can be combined with laser and chemical peeling to improve the skin texture as well as BBL (broad band light) to help treat brown spots.
Dr. Barry Eppley