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Ask Dr. Leavitt--Does smoking really cause wrinkles?
Is it true that smoking causes wrinkles?
Yes. Premature wrinkles are great reasons to quit smoking, and the sooner the better. Smoking can speed up the normal aging process of your skin, contributing to wrinkles. These skin changes may occur after only 10 years of smoking.
The more you smoke and the longer you smoke, the more skin wrinkles you are likely to have — even though the early skin damage from smoking can be difficult to see at first.
Smoking does not cause wrinkles just on your face. Smoking is also associated with increased wrinkling and skin damage on other parts of your body, including your inner arms. You can prevent worsening of wrinkling by quitting smoking now.
How does smoking lead to wrinkles? The nicotine in cigarettes causes narrowing of the blood vessels in the outermost layers of your skin. This reduces blood flow to your skin. With less blood flow, your skin does not get as much oxygen and important nutrients, such as vitamin A.
Many of the over 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke also damage collagen and elastin, which are fibers that give your skin its strength and elasticity. As a result, skin begins to sag and wrinkle prematurely because of smoking.
Also, prolonged and repeated exposure to heat from burning cigarettes and the facial expressions you make when smoking — such as pursing your lips when inhaling and squinting your eyes to keep out smoke — may contribute to wrinkles.
If you are interested in quitting smoking, talk to your family doctor and work together to form a plan that will best help you quit for good. The benefits to your body begin within the first 24 hours of stopping smoking.
]At Leavitt Family Medicine, we are here for all of your medical needs. We welcome your questions and comments; please let us know how we can help you today!