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The effects of smoking on the skin

According to Dr Elson Haas, MD the face of a smoker at about 40-50 years of age actually looks about 20 years older.

Many studies have been conducted where it has been found that wrinkles are directly influenced by smoking. Another characteristic of the smoker’s skin is its paleness, which is due to the depletion of oxygen from blood. Those who quit smoking regain their pinkish color, but the wrinkles remain. This effect happens even if the smokers had the habit only in his/her teens. Such is the impact of smoking.

Why this happens?

Another study shows that smoking considerably reduces collagen – the main structural protein of the skin, hence killing the skin’s elasticity. Studies have proven beyond any doubt that smoking eats up the Vitamin C available in the body. It is believed that this depletion causes the loss of collagen, since Vitamin C is the main active ingredient in the synthesis of collagen. With time, the skin looses its elasticity, color and gets a sagging, pale, wrinkled look. This is particularly bad news for women.

It has been observed that smokers have pronounced puckered mouth wrinkles, as well as crows feet around he eyes. Theories have been formed claiming that puckered mouth wrinkles are due to the fact that smokers pucker their mouth when puffing on the cigarette hence creating the lines around the mouth by sheer practice. The same goes for the crows feet around the eyes – besides the fact the skin around the eyes is the thinnest on the body and very reactive at any change of blood or nutrients – smokers tend to narrow their eyes due to the smoke and hence wrinkles are created by the exercise.

Smoking has also been proven to interfere with hair growth as well. In men this is more pronounced – hence baldness is likely to occur twice as much in smokers than in non-smokers. Bad news for men too.

It is a well-known fact that smoking interferes heavily with the oxygen flow to the cells. This effect plus the collagen reduction induces the smoker’s skin syndrome – i.e. wrinkles and paleness. To add to the woes, smoking also makes the blood capillaries constrict (heart problems are caused by this) and hence the wrinkles become more and more pronounced.

It has been proved through relevant studies that just 10 minutes of smoking depletes cells of oxygen for more than one hour. Think what you are doing when you take that break to have a cigarette – you are actually depleting your cells of oxygen and ensuring collagen loss in the facial skin. Cigarettes drastically stop or reduce the blood flow to the surface of the skin. This is the reason why people who undergo plastic surgery are asked to quit smoking for a good period of time before the surgery. Scarring is also more likely to occur in smokers than non-smokers, as healing at the surface of the skin is slower. Smoking through its interference with blood flow, also affects the healing of the plastic surgery patients. Smoking also heavily interferes with healing process in general – hence surgical procedures for smokers are more likely to have complications with bleeding than those of non-smokers.

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