It was the stuff of Marie Valencis’ dreams: a 3.9-carat, princess-cut, platinum engagement ring with a diamond band — which her fiancé picked out by himself. But after the initial elation wore off, a seemingly more practical matter popped into her head: What about the selfies she would invariably post on Facebook, Instagram and elsewhere?
Never mind that she was a sprightly 30 years old. Despite the bauble shimmering on her finger, her hand looked scaly, she said, with a few sunspots dotting it. “When I saw a picture, I thought, ‘Oh, it doesn’t look very smooth, plump and youthful,’ ” said Ms. Valencis, a baker in Farmington, Conn. “I wanted a hand makeover.”
In the time that has passed since the Styles section last reported on hand-lift procedures (March 15, 2012), doctors are saying that they are seeing more newly engaged women come in specifically with the selfie in mind.
“Absolutely, the rise in social media is a reason people are getting a ton of stuff done, not just to their hands,” said Dr. David Bank, the director of the Center for Dermatology in Mount Kisco, N.Y., who has been offering hand lifts since 2005 and has conducted studies on hand injectables.
Dr. Matthew Schulman, a Manhattan plastic surgeon, said he sees about eight patients a month specifically for hand treatments. “Everyone wants to see pictures of engagement rings, whether it’s looking at their wish pic or sending photos to their friends to announce an engagement,” he said. “They are becoming more aware of what their hands look like, much more than getting a manicure.”
Age spots, veins or a bony appearance (or, horrors, all three) have become an obsession for some women. And as with all obsessions, there is a price to be exacted. In Ms. Valencis’ quest for that perfect selfie of her diamond-adorned hand, she contracted for a series of six intense pulsed light (I.P.L.) and chemical-peel treatments and two syringes of an injected gel substance called Juvéderm Voluma XC for a total of $3,000.
In Manhattan, a single microdermabrasion treatment can range from $200 for one visit to $1,000 for a package of six. I.P.L. treatments and hand chemical peels tend to start at $300 for a single visit to $1,500 for a package of six.
“Once you see what your hand looks like on your computer or phone, you start to notice things you didn’t think were a problem before,” said Dr. Schulman, who injects dermal fillers into the skin in the back of the hands to diminish that bony or veiny look. He also offers laser therapy, along with consultations with an aesthetician in his office.
Plastic surgery is up in general. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, from 2012 to 2013 there was a 6.5 percent increase in the total number of cosmetic surgical procedures (for men and women), and a 21 percent increase in injectables like Radiesse, Juvéderm and Sculptra Aesthetic. Though the Society does not break down the numbers by body part, injectables are used primarily in the face and hands, said Dr. Michael Edwards, a Las Vegas board certified plastic surgeon, who is the organization’s new president.
Jennifer Skrip disagrees. After she got engaged in March, Ms. Skrip, a 35-year-old teacher in Manhattan, said she worried that her hands looked a little too bony, with a bit of sun damage. This week, she is starting treatments with an aesthetician in Dr. Schulman’s office, for a peel and some I.P.L. and possibly some injectables, that she expects will cost $1,000 to $2,000.
“I want my hands to look perfect for photos,” she said.
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