While most people are aware of the potentially life-threatening health consequences of cigarette smoking, including lung cancer and emphysema, many people do not recognize the negative impact that smoking can have on the health and appearance of their skin.
Smoking causes biomechanical changes in our bodies that can speed up the normal aging process of the skin, contributing to deep wrinkles and fine lines that make us look older. The more cigarettes you smoke and the longer you smoke, the more wrinkled, leathery skin you will develop.
Why does smoking cause wrinkles?
Smoking accelerates skin aging in a number of ways.
- Nicotine in cigarettes deprive skin cells of oxygen and constricts the blood vessels that feed nutrients to the skin cells.
- Smoking damages collagen and elastin, the fibers that give skin its strength and elasticity. As fibrous substances are destroyed, skin begins to sag and droop.
- Smoking reduces the body’s store of vitamin A and vitamin C, which provide skin protection.
- Continual pursing of the mouth when inhaling or squinting of the eyes to avoid smoke can cause deep wrinkling around the eyes and mouth.
- Continual exposure to cigarette heat and smoke can make skin appear sallow and yellowish in color.
- As collagen is destroyed, other parts of the body such as the inner arms and neck may appear saggy and wrinkled with time.
There’s Help—Quit Now
Skin damage caused by smoking won’t be completely reversible. But the signs of smoking can be dramatically diminished and even avoided the sooner you stop smoking. Even those who have smoked for several years show noticeably less wrinkling and improved skin tone when they quit smoking.
If you are ready to stop smoking or have recently quit, but the visible signs of aging smoking left behind bother you, talk to your dermatologist. There are many different cosmetic treatments available that can reduce fine lines caused by smoking. Laser resurfacing, chemical peels, and some topical treatments can restore skin, giving it a rejuvenated and smoother appearance. We will examine your skin, discuss your goals for treatment and recommend suitable options.
The longer you smoke, the greater chance you have of developing irreversible wrinkles. By stopping your smoking habit now combined with an improved diet and a great anti-aging skin care regimen, it is possible to regain your youthful skin.