People are having their hands injected with an acidic gel in a developing cosmetic surgery trend.

In 2017, cosmetic surgery clinics reported a 28% rise in the number of enquiries from people wanting anti-ageing procedures on their hands, known in the industry as ‘hand rejuvenation’. The increase in popularity of ‘hand lifts’ may be linked to use of social media, with many women prepared to pay for cosmetic treatment so they can show off their smooth hands on social networking sites.

No matter how well an individual looks after them, the backs of hands will carry the tell-tale signs of ageing. The skin here becomes thinner and as people age, they lose fat from this area, meaning the veins appear larger and become more prominent over time. While this does not usually cause any physical problems, veiny and wrinkled hands can add years to your appearance.

Common reasons why people have hand lifts is to improve the appearance of prominent veins and tendons, wrinkled and thin skin and age spots and to enhance poor skin tone and colour. This can be achieved by injecting hyaluronic acid (more commonly referred to as a ‘filler’) under the skin to restore volume loss and encourage production of collagen for a supposedly longer-lasting effect.

Cosmetic surgery, such as breast augmentations, facelifts, etc, is regulated by the Care Quality Commission and also carefully monitored by organisations such as the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS). This means that whilst mistakes may still occur, patients are able to undergo these operations with some degree of confidence and knowledge that the clinician treating them is working within a code of conduct and is accountable to an external body. However, this is not generally the case for non-surgical treatments, such as fillers, and virtually anyone can inject them.

Practitioners offering fillers are not required to be registered, and therefore do not need to demonstrate their competence. Worryingly, they may not even be insured, so if anything does go wrong, the patient may have no recourse.

In untrained hands, hyaluronic acid fillers can be incorrectly injected into blood vessels instead of just into the soft tissue below the skin. This mistake can cause permanent discolouration, scarring, numbness, and decreased range of motion.