How Smoking Ages You—And What To Do About It

Cigarettes may look glamorous in old black-and-white French film noirs, but there's nothing alluring about their effects on your body. Not only does smoking shave years off your life expectancy, it ages you physically—and no leading lady wants to deal with smoker's face when she's ready for her close-up.

Sagging Skin

Collagen and elastin are fibers that keep your skin strong and supple. Vitamin C—a key component in collagen production—is depleted when you smoke. In addition, the chemicals in cigarettes (there are more than 4000!) actively destroy collagen and elastin, leading to deep wrinkles, sagging facial skin, bags below the eyes, droopy upper arms, and saggy breasts.

Poor Skin Tone

Smoking deprives your skin of oxygen and vital nutrients, which makes some smokers look pale, and gives other uneven skin tone. Smoking can make your skin look grayish and gaunt, too—not a good look, no matter which foundation you use.

Smoker's Face

The act of smoking—that infamous pucker of the lips and face—causes specific wrinkles around the mouth, and those wrinkles are only heightened by the smoker's weakened skin elasticity. Other signs of smoker's face are deep lines on the cheeks, pronounced crow's feet, and a generally haggard look to the skin.

If you're ready to quit smoking and stop premature aging, we applaud you!

Remember that only 4-7% of smokers are able to quit without any medicine or outside help, so don't pressure yourself into making this major life move by yourself. Talk to your doctor, who will be able to help you decide which quitting method is best for you—you've got plenty of options, such as nicotine-replacement therapy, a prescription drug, or a stop smoking program. With that in mind, here are some tips to make the road to smoke-free living a little easier:

  1. Get yourself a support group! Tell your friends and family that you need them there for you during this period in your life, and ask them to help you stay responsible and on track.
  2. Choose a reason to stop smoking that's stronger than the urge to smoke. Do you want to keep your children away from secondhand smoke? Do you want to significantly improve your skin tone? Pick a reason that's powerful for you, and write it down somewhere you can see it every day.
  3. Avoid triggers that make you want to smoke (like alcohol, a mid-day cup of coffee, or whatever gets you craving a cigarette)...
  4. ...and find other, funner ways to manage stress (massages, yoga, or a much-needed vacation).
  5. Eat your veggies and exercise! Both are extremely helpful in the fight against nicotine addiction, and you'll feel great afterwards.
  6. Remind yourself of the benefits every day. 20 minutes after your last cigarette, your blood pressure and heart rate both lower. 12 hours after you quit, the carbon monoxide level in your blood normalizes. Your circulation begins to improve and your lungs get better. The stains on your fingers will disappear, your teeth whiten, and your breath smells better. And most importantly, over the long term, your risk of heart attacks, heart disease, strokes, and lung, mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, and cervical cancer decrease.

And what about those wrinkles and sagging skin? Thankfully, you've got us! The Thermage treatment from Aventi Medical Spa is designed to tighten your skin without surgery.

This alternative to facelifts and necklifts uses something called radiofrequency technology to heat deep layers of the skin. This creates new collagen and stimulates and firms existing collagen—reversing the collagen-damaging effects of cigarettes.

Check out our Thermage page to see before and after pictures, and best of luck with your new, cigarette-free lifestyle!