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Effects of Smoking on Skin Health

Posted on Friday, April 11th, 2014 by Douglas M. Stevens, MD

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that there are 42.1 million people or 18.1% of the U.S. population that smokes on a regular basis. 20.5% are men and 15.8% are women. Approximately 16 million people in the United States suffer from smoking related diseases. Overall smoking has declined in the U.S. to 18.1% in 2012 from 20.9% in 2005.

These are sobering statistics. As the government takes over healthcare in this country, I fear for the people in the future who suffer from smoking related diseases. From this physician one word of advice: stay healthy and don’t smoke!

With regards to the effects of smoking on the skin, I spoke previously about the vaso-constrictive effects of nicotine. The decrease in blood flow and the decrease in the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood combine to give the skin a grey unhealthy look. With time, the decrease in these factors as well as a decrease in damage repairing anti oxidants such as vitamin C that occur with smoking will lead to aging of the skin and increased risk of psoriasis and skin cancer. As for cosmetic surgery, we have seen the deleterious effects of smoking on the results that we can achieve. Not only is healing slower but the ultimate outcome can be effected as scars do not heal as well and the skin does not recover from laser resurfacing as quickly and effectively as expected.

Smoking results in greater hair loss and thinning or balding beyond that that occurs with genetics or aging. So, for all the reasons given above and the financial burden that smoking imposes on your budget, please stop or avoid smoking. Have a healthy and happy life!

Thanks for reading my blog.

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Douglas Stevens, MD
Facial Plastic & Laser Center

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