Do You Suffer from Old Hands?March 28th, 2012 © by Susan Swartz
Many years ago I interviewed a cosmetic surgeon and asked if there was anything left on the face to remodel and he said, maybe foreheads. I flinched. Who worries about their forehead? Didn’t anyone ever hear of bangs?
Then along came Botox and now, I read that the newest part that needs upgrading is our hands. A story in the New York Times quotes a woman in her 60s who worried that her hands did not match her lifestyle or her body. And so she went in for a hand-lift.
A hand-lift sounds like something you might offer your friend struggling to get up from the couch while holding a glass of pinot. But no, a hand-lift, apparently the hot new target in the fix-it world, is what a plastic surgeon can do to your hands to make them look younger. That is, smooth out the wrinkles, erase the brown spots and plump them into little dumpling doll hands. Sometimes they use synthetic filler. Sometimes they inject fat from your derriere or thigh.
The story said that now that the face can be so effectively remodeled, one can’t tell a person’s age by their crow’s feet and saggy jowls. What really shows a person’s longevity is their hands. A Southern California plastic surgeon naturally agreed and pointed to the overlooked appendages of celebrities like Madonna and Sarah Jessica Parker. True they have fantastic bodies, he said, but oh my dear, the hands are ancient.
I read this and thought good lord, is nothing sacred? I’m pretty pro-choice on cosmetic surgery. If you want it, can afford it and it will make you happy, go ahead. And I am accustomed to a beauty culture that makes money by making us feel inadequate and constantly delivers the message there is nothing lovely about getting older.
I imagine cosmetic surgeons gleefully rubbing their own hands just thinking how rich they’ll get fixing the flawed paws of worried Boomers.
But can’t we leave our hands alone? It seems disloyal to give up on your hands when they’re still working for you. Now, if this were a procedure to soothe arthritic hands and make those fingers work better, that would be a breakthrough. But this all about looks.
I am not immune to vanity props. I color my hair and whiten my teeth. But my hands, 15 years older than Madonna’s, are the natural thing. They remind me of a topographical map, laced with ridges and valleys. I’m fond of them.
My hands might not look it but in fact they still act quite young. They curl nicely around my bicycle handlebars. They can open a pickle jar. They can’t play a piano but then they never could. But they still fly across a computer keyboard.
I started getting sun spots on my hands in my 30s when I spent a summer canoeing down the Missouri River. In the water and bright sun every day, my hands fried. I came home with brown spotted hands, leading friends to suggest I find some bleaching cream. I asked my daughter what she thought and she said to leave them alone. “They’re mom hands.”
Now they’re grandmother hands. They know how to say “please” and “all done” in baby sign language. They can pitch a softball and dress a ballerina.
There are risks with the hand-lift surgery. You might cut a tendon. You might lose some elasticity in your hands. One type of hand-lift procedure is said to last only one year.
And then you might wake up one day… and there are the good old things waving at you and saying, “We’re back.”