Yes, cigarettes are making you age faster. When it comes to convincing smokers to quit, warning of health dangers is commonplace… but one effect that is not commonly discussed is how smoking makes you look older.
Your skin cannot breathe…
When you take a puff of a cigarette, you may feel a sense of calming, but that repeated action has the opposite effect on your blood vessels. With every puff your blood vessels immediately become thinner and spasm. This reduces circulation and the oxygen level in your blood – in a sense you give your skin the inability to breath. What happens when your skin can’t breathe? You guessed it – premature aging. It’s not just the wrinkles that can form either. Your skin will also age by becoming dry, dull and yellowed.
You’re depriving your skin of nutrients, too.
There are thousands of chemicals neatly rolled up into a cigarette. When you combine these chemicals with the lack of circulation and oxygen it causes collagen and elastin breakdown. Collagen and elastin are what give your skin strength and elasticity. The result: sagging skin, dull appearance and uneven skin tone.
You’re gaining the “smokers pucker”.
Smokers use the muscles around their mouths and eyes more than the rest of us. In order to inhale, you have to pucker. According to Dr. Steven Deliduka, board-certified dermatologist with Forefront Dermatology “this repetitive movement of the muscles around your mouth and lips leads to lines sometimes referred to as a ‘smoker’s pucker. Once you exhale, smoke tends to go back into your face, so you squint. This motion paired with the chemicals depriving the very delicate skin around your eyes leads to crow’s feet.”
You’re living in your own polluted bubble.
Your skin takes a direct hit from the environment it’s in. When you smoke, you fill the air with toxins that will ultimately settle onto your skin – even if you can’t see it. These toxins are commonly referred to as free radicals. Free radicals latch onto cells and destroy them leading to rough skin, sagging and wrinkling.
You’re increasing your risk for skin cancer.
If you thought wrinkles was the worst thing smoking can do to your skin, think again. In addition to raising your odds of developing lung cancer, strokes, and heart attacks, smoking also boosts your risk of squamous cell carcinoma by 52 percent, according to a major new study. The study, appearing in Archives of Dermatology, found that even those who smoke just a few cigarettes a day are affected. They suspect that smokers’ increased risk can be attributed to tobacco’s harmful effect on the immune system, since people with damaged or suppressed immune systems are much more likely to develop skin cancers.
That being said…
There’s light at the end of the tunnel. Once you quit, your skin will immediately begin to repair itself. You’ll experience improved blood flow, which will rush oxygen and nutrients back to your cells as well as decrease inflammation. Some changes may be permanent, yes — particularly if your bad habit lasted years — but the longer you’re away from the lighter, the more your skin and its own healing mechanisms will resume.
If you are struggling with skin issues and don’t know where to turn, the skin health experts at Forefront Dermatology are ready to help. To find the Forefront dermatologist nearest you, visit the locations page today.