Is It Possible To Erase The Skin Damage From Years of Smoking?


I vividly remember being 9 years old and my mom (while on the phone) signaling to me that she wanted her cigarettes.  As instructed, I would get her Virginia Slim 100’s and watched while she drank her coffee, laughed with her friends on the phone and puffed away with great pleasure. The smell of smoke was a part of my childhood and most of my teenage years. Although I was never interested smoking, I saw many of my high school friends chain smoking as a pastime or just to be cool. My mother decided to quit years later and I am happy to say that she never looked back. Why do I bring this up? As a nurse, I am educated on the risks of smoking and while I know there is no fountain of youth, there is a surefire way to make yourself look significantly older. Smoking is one of those ways.

Smoking affects your skin, teeth, and hair in ways that can add years to your appearance. It also affects everything from the strength of your heart, lungs, and bones to even your fertility. When I am out and about in New York City I still see so many people smoking outside of bars and restaurants and I always silently wonder: “Why is this still a social pastime?”

One of the early visible signs of a smokers is their dulled complexion, others may develop uneven skin coloring. These changes can begin at a young age, according to dermatologist Jonette Keri, M.D. of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.  "In young nonsmokers, we don't usually see a lot of uneven skin tone," Keri says. "But it develops more quickly in people who smoke."

Here is the 411 on tobacco. There are more than 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke and many of them trigger the destruction of collagen and elastin. These fibers give your skin its strength and elasticity. Smoking or even being around secondhand smoke "degrades the building blocks of the skin," Keri says. Consequences include sagging skin and deeper wrinkles. I have personally seen in my patients who smoke that their skin is less supple, blotchy and wrinkled. To correct the smokers lines and general skin damage from  years of smoking it takes lots of time and money. Laser resurfacing and IPL for full face,  Microneedling with PRP, Botox for lip lines, chemical peels to brighten the skin, and the list goes on. 

Moral of the story? Quit smoking today and it is not too late to reverse the damage.