If you’ve ever been a smoker, then you’ve probably been reminded how bad it is for you about a million times and quitting can be difficult. Once you finally do quit, however, you’ll start to notice a number of benefits. You’ll have a brighter smile, you’ll get sick less often, and you’ll cut down on your risks for lung cancer and diabetes. Your skin will also begin to recover from the damage it sustained from cigarettes. If you’ve been smoking for a long time, however, you may need a little help reversing cigarette skin damage that has built up over the years. Here’s how you can turn back the clock and get healthier, more youthful-looking skin after quitting smoking.
How Cigarettes Affect Your Skin
Look at a smoker and a non-smoker of the same age, and you’ll see some major differences. Smokers have more lines, wrinkles, undereye bags, and sagging skin than non-smokers do. This difference is extremely obvious in a study comparing sets of identical twins. The twins had different habits (one twin was always a non-smoker or smoked for fewer year than the other), and it’s easy to see the difference in the photos taken for the study: the twin that smoked longer looked significantly older more than half the time.
But why do cigarettes age us? First, the nicotine in cigarettes constricts blood vessels, which disrupts normal healing and cell renewal. This leads to dull, dry skin. Beyond that, the chemicals in cigarettes break down collagen and elastin in the skin faster than normal, leading to lines, wrinkles, thin and sagging skin. Smokers are also more susceptible to developing “age” spots which are typically caused by sun damage. With all of these factors, it’s no surprise that smokers can start looking years older than they are early on in life.
Reversing Cigarette Skin Damage
Getting started is easy: you first have to quit. Just by cutting out the nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes will allow your skin to begin healing itself. But that’s just the first step.
Once you’re smoke-free, you’ll have to start paying attention to your other habits as well. Are you eating a healthy diet and eating enough fruits and vegetables full of vitamins A and C? Healthy skin starts with healthy habits, so eating well, exercising, and drinking enough water are all great ways to help your skin recover from cigarette damage. It’s also a good idea to ask your doctor to recommend vitamins you can take to help your body bounce back.
Starting a Skincare Regimen
Your skin will be very sensitive once you quit smoking. After all, it’s going through big changes—even if those changes are positive. It’s important to start a regular skincare routine at home as soon as possible. A regimen of cleansing, exfoliating, moisturizing, and using antioxidant products containing alpha-hydroxy acids or retinols can help the skin renew itself over time for healthier-looking skin. You can even get professional-grade products from a plastic surgeon or dermatologist to gradually improve your skin quality.
Professional Skin Rejuvenation Treatments
Reversing cigarette skin damage can be as simple as changing your habits, but longtime or heavy smokers might have more trouble getting anti-aging results at home. That’s where professional treatments can come to the rescue. There are dozens of non-invasive or minimally-invasive skin treatments that can help turn back the clock and rejuvenate skin.
Some of the best options for former smokers include:
Laser skin resurfacing
This is a popular treatment that removes the top layer of dull, damaged skin using laser energy. By precisely removing the damaged skin, the body is encouraged to create bright, new skin that will begin to emerge a few days after the treatment. Patients see smoother, healthier skin after just one treatment, but usually decide to undergo a series of treatments, depending on the type of laser.
Chemical peels work by exfoliating the skin with chemical solutions for a soft, hydrated look and feel. Although there are many different types of peels available, many people with smokers’ skin see great results with a mild peel like the PCA Ultra Peel I Exfoliating treatment.
BBL (BroadBand Light)
Because cigarettes cause the blood vessels to constrict, many smokers develop spider veins or redness. BBL treatments are gentle, yet effective, in destroying unwanted spider veins and creating a more even complexion. Most patients need three to six treatments to see optimal results.
Although resurfacing treatments can make a difference in fine lines and wrinkles, injectables can soften deeper furrows. Today, there are hyaluronic acid fillers to fill in lost volume and deep wrinkles, in addition to classic wrinkle treatments like Botox. Injectables are often used to enhance the results of other cosmetic skin treatments.
Choosing the Right Treatment
If you’re ready to start reversing cigarette skin damage, then your next step is to discuss your options with a plastic surgeon. He or she can recommend the best treatments for your needs, and help you create a treatment plan that will help you reach your goals. Getting a professional’s opinion and help will allow you to get younger-looking skin faster.
Dr. Edward Buckingham, a renowned Austin-area facial plastic surgeon, is known for his minimally-invasive anti-aging treatments. He offers patients a variety of options for skin rejuvenation and works hard to customize each treatment to help patients reach their full aesthetic potential. For more information, contact Buckingham Center in Austin at 512-401-2500 to schedule your consultation with Dr. Buckingham and start reversing cigarette skin damage as soon as possible.