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Fat or Muscle Loss In Hands

Written by: Becki Murray

Updated by: Becki Murray

Last Updated: 31 January 2024

Get ready for a cliché but your hands really can give away your age. Often its quite subtle at first – and then suddenly it isn’t, but if you’ve noticed they’ve become less smooth, a little gaunt, or even just weaker over time, it could be the result of fat or muscle loss (or a combination of the two). While the area has been traditionally quite tricky to treat, there are options available. Read our FAQs to find out all about treating fat and muscle loss in your hands, as well as the signs to spot that it might be happening to you. 

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Fat or Muscle Loss In Hands

What is fat loss in the hands?

Fat loss in the hands, also known as hand atrophy, refers to the reduction of fat tissue in the hands, leading to a more bony or skeletal appearance. This condition is mainly cosmetic, as it can make the hands appear aged and less plump.

What is muscle loss in the hands?

Muscle loss refers to a reduction in the size and strength of the muscles. This condition can have more health and lifestyle consequences, as it may result in a weakened grip, diminished dexterity, and difficulties performing everyday tasks that require hand strength and coordination. Together, the conditions can make your hands look and feel older.

What causes fat and muscle loss in the hands?

  1.  Ageing: As we age, our body’s natural fat distribution changes, and we may experience fat loss in various areas. There is also a natural decline in muscle mass and strength, which may become noticeable in the hands overtime.
  2.  Medical conditions: Various conditions, including neuropathy, nerve damage and muscle disorders can cause weakness in the hands. Arthritis or autoimmune diseases may also affect the joints and muscles, contributing to muscle and fat loss in the area.
  3.  Diet: Significant weight loss can lead to fat loss in the hands, just as it can occur in other parts of the body. Likewise, if your diet is too low in nutrients, especially protein, you are likely to experience muscle wasting throughout the body, including in your hands.
  4. Genetics: Some individuals may be genetically predisposed to experiencing fat and muscle loss in specific areas. Have a look at the hands of your older family members and you may see similarities overtime without intervention.
  5. Overuse or underuse: How often you use your hands will impact the fat tissue, and a lack of regular activity is particularly likely to contribute to muscle atrophy.

 

Can treatments stop muscle loss and fat loss?

Combatting fat and muscle loss in the hands can be challenging, but – depending on the underlying cause and severity – there are options available. These range from physical exercises that directly target the muscles in the hands, through to aesthetic procedures focusing on enhancing overall volume and skin quality:

  1. Physical therapy: Hand-specific exercises, such as squeezing a stress ball or using hand grippers daily, can help improve hand strength and function. It can help maintain your muscle mass in the area too.
  2. Dermal fillers: Dermal filler injections can be used to add volume to gaunt hands. There are specific brands recommended for the areas, such as the collagen-stimulating filler Ellansé recommended by Dr David Jack, which tends to be quite long-lasting.
  3. Fat transfer: A more permanent but invasive solution is to inject fat harvested from other parts of your body into your hands to restore lost volume. This can be done surgically, but for a less intense option, AirSculpt’s innovative technology allows for fat to be plucked out of areas and transferred to places like the hands with more practitioner control and less downtime.
  4. Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy: PRP therapy involves taking a vial of your blood (taken just like a blood test), spinning it in a special machine to separate out the growth-factor-rich plasma, then reinjecting it where you want to benefit from boosted collagen production and textural skin improvements. It’s been used in the hands to good effect.
  5. Laser treatments: Sagging skin on the hands can be the result of muscle or fat loss, which fractional laser therapies can then tighten, as well as stimulating some degree of collagen production. It won’t boost muscle or fat content in the area but will make hands look firmer and more youthful.  
  6. Radiofrequency: Radiofrequency can also help tighten and resurface the skin on your hands. Again, this will not directly combat fat and muscle loss in the area but can make it appear less obvious by improving overall skin quality.
  7. Combined hand rejuvenation: Some clinics offer combination-based tweakments that work together to boost hand appearance. That may include dermal fillers, laser therapy, and skin resurfacing treatments.

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What are the signs that you’re losing muscle in your hands?

General weakness in your hands is one of the most common signs of losing muscle mass in the area and this can happen gradually or be quite sudden. You may notice you have more difficulty lifting or squeezing objects, and your gripping strength, range of motion, and fine motor skills could be more restricted. This can result in finding it harder to open jars, turn doorknobs, write, or button a shirt, as well as increased fatigue during everyday activities. Visually, muscle and fat loss can be quite noticeable in your hands too, making them appear gaunt and bony, while the condition can be painful due to the overuse of compensatory muscles, or be accompanied by tingling or numbness due to nerve compression.

Could lifestyle changes make a difference?

Maintaining a balanced diet, staying hydrated, and engaging in regular strength-building physical activity can contribute to maintained muscle and fat composition in your hands. However, a healthy lifestyle is likely to only slow down, not stop, age-related changes.

How much, on average, would treating muscle and fat loss in the hands cost?

The cost of treating fat loss and muscle loss in the hands can vary depending on the chosen treatment, the number of sessions required, and the location and expertise of your practitioner. Non-invasive treatments like physical therapy and dermal fillers are likely to be more affordable than surgical options but the former are likely to have more minimal or temporary effects. In general, dermal fillers start from £300; PRP therapy and laser rejuvenation treatments from £500; and AirSculpt fat transfer from £8000.

What vitamin stops age-related muscle loss in the hands?

It would be amazing if there was a magic pill to stop muscle and fat loss in the hands, but there isn’t a single vitamin that can completely stop the process and consequences of ageing. That said, you should ensure your diet and lifestyle provide you with enough key vitamins that are related to healthy muscle function, such as the B-vitamins, vitamin D, E and C, plus calcium and magnesium. Protein is also particularly important for muscle maintenance and repair throughout the body, and good hydrated can also support healthy muscle function.

Does skincare or at-home devices offer any solutions?

Skincare products won’t have a direct effect on muscle and fat loss in the hands, but they can help overall skin health. For example, products that contain collagen-boosting ingredients like retinoids and peptides can help improve skin texture and tone, especially if you struggle with dark spots and crepiness in the area. Regular massage and using moisturising hand creams may boost hydration too.

As for at-home physiotherapy-based devices, hand drippers and stress balls can help maintain hand strength and dexterity, but otherwise there are no specific devices with proven efficacy.

Are there any medical implications of fat and muscle loss?

In some cases, muscle loss in the hands – especially if it is significant or rapid in onset – may indicate an underlying medical issue or nerve-related problem that requires investigation. If you experience significant muscle weakness, speak to your doctor as soon as possible, as early intervention is key. Fat loss in the hands is less indicative of a medical issue, but if you are concerned, it’s advisable to still seek medical advice.

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