Yes Cigarettes Really Make Your Skin Age More Quickly
When attempting to convince smokers to quit, one of the most common strategies is to warn them of all the health dangers of cigarettes. However, a tactic that might be just as effective is to appeal to smokers' vanity. So what cosmetic claims can be made against cigarette smoke?
Houston-based dermatologist Dr. Milton Moore and Dr. Dina Yaghmai, a dermatologist and Co-Director of Chicago's Physicians Laser and Dermatology Institute, weighed in recently to discuss what the addictive habit of smoking cigarettes does to our skin. Spoiler: the answer is as bad as you might think.
Yes, cigarettes in fact do cause human skin to age more quickly.
Whenever you take a puff on a cigarette, it might provide you with a feeling of calm relief. However, your blood vessels, get the exact opposite effect from this action. They immediately spasm and become thinner. This decreases the level of oxygen in your blood and reduces circulation. Dr. Moore says that anything that decreases the oxygen level in your blood will also affect your skin.
The decrease in circulation and oxygen causes wrinkles and premature ageing, which are especially pronounced around your mouth. According to Dr. Yaghmai, the act of constantly pursing your lips whenever you are smoking exacerbates your "cigarette lines" - which are lines that extend out from your mouth. These lines are a dead giveaway that the person smokes. She also adds that reduced circulation from smoking can can also result in poor wound healing, which is one of the more clear short-term side effects associated with smoking.
Releasing free radicals into the body is another direct result that comes with smoking. This impairs the production of collagen and breaks proteins down that help to maintain your skin. Dr. Yaghmai says that most anti-ageing products have been designed to help with removing free radicals. She says that part of the natural ageing process involves oxidative damage to one's cells and formation of free radicals. When you smoke higher levels of these free radicals get released into your body. This further increases oxidative cell damage and accelerates the skin's ageing process.
Smoking can also dull that healthy glow of yours.
Dr. Moore says that smoking decreases red blood cell production, and when you have a reduced number of red blood cells, it is similar to having anaemia and you look pale. With some skin tones it can have a greyish appearance. Cigarette smoke also affects the glow, smoothness and texture of you skin, particularly in the chin and upper lips areas, where cigarette lines make their appearance.
Dr. Yaghmai says that the skin actually does have lack of softness and lack of glow that can be seen in a healthy non-smoker. It results in rougher skin texture and the pigmentation has an overall unevenness as well.
To even start to reverse the effects of smoking, you would need to undergo some extensive dermatological procedures.
Think again if you think some topical creams, vitamins and water can repair the damage caused by cigarettes. According to Dr. Yaghmai, there is no quick fix once the damage has become visible. Both Dr. Moore and Dr. Yaghmai recommend a comprehensive skin care regimen for all patients that includes, hydrating with water, cleansing and moisturising. In order to reverse the effects from smoking you will have to invest in skincare.
More affordable and simple procedures such as light chemical peels, Botox injections and microdermabrasion might be helpful, however Dr. Yaghmai recommends laser treatments. They can be fairly expensive, but improve collagen production and remove the top dead skin layers.
There are some small changes that smokers can also make to help with reducing the damage.
Although the effects of smoking cannot be reduced without assistance from a good dermatologist, there are some lifestyle adjustments you can make to help minimize the damage. Staying active and avoiding sun exposure and alcohol can help keep your skin looking healthier and help with maintaining better circulation.
According to Dr. Moore, people who are more active will have fewer side effects and do better with their smoking than a sedentary individual who is a smoker.
So if you quit will your skin bounce back?
Some of the damage can be undone. The longer that you have smoked, the more serious the damage is and the longer it will take for your skin to be able to recover. After you stop smoking, it will 20 to 30 days before your red blood cell counts begin to increase. You will then begin to see a difference in the texture and quality of your skin. However, don't expect that your fine lines and wrinkles will ever naturally go away.
Dr. Yaghmai says that making the decision to quit means you are doing something really good for your skin and it will result in improvements, also using e cigarettes and eliquid can help you quit smoking for good. However, to reverse damage that has been caused already requires intervention.
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