By: Pamela L. Zagula LPN,LE,Medical Skincare Specialist
Cigarette smoking, smokeless tobacco products as well as second hand smoke can alter a person’s physical appearance in dramatic ways and lead to many other undesirable health related issues.
“Smokers Face” is a medically documented condition distinguished by one or more of the following characteristics: the skin color appears gray and pale from chronically reduced blood flow. Tobacco’s chemicals rob the skin of epidermal moisture and cause the break down of collagen and elastin. This crash causes the face to appear gaunt, with excessive deep wrinkles, especially around the mouth, eyes and hollows of the cheek. There is disproportionate sagging of the skin and excessive formation of white heads and black heads. There is an increased occurrence of psoriasis, oral lesions, squamous cell cancer and systemic and discoid lupus.
The psychological impact of appearing older than one’s chronological age can be significant, especially in regard to ones perception of self. Poor self-esteem may lead one to desire a cosmetic surgical solution. You may have a difficult time finding a qualified surgeon to electively operate on you because smokers heal poorly and scar dramatically. Abdominal surgery, facelifts and skin grafts are known to have a much higher rate of failure in smokers. Tobacco constricts surface blood vessels, reduces oxygen levels in the skin, thickens the blood and impedes the laying down of collagen necessary for wound healing. Resuming smoking during an uneventful recovery could lead to adverse wound healing. Substituting with the nicotine patch or gum for the tobacco product does not take you out of harms way when it comes to healing a surgical wound.
If that’s not enough reason to stop how about this: Tobacco’s cancer causing chemicals, of which researchers have documented 69, are known to also cause free radical formation as well as inflammation and deplete the body of essential nutrients and antioxidants. This has a very negative effect on the immune system and decreases the body’s ability to fight off disease.
Cancer of the lung, lip, mouth, penis, anus and vulva are more common in smokers. Emphysema is the end result of long-term inhalation of toxic chemicals, that’s right smoking. Imagine being unable to take a deep breath and walking around with an oxygen tank strapped to you.
Let’s face it smoking is socially unacceptable. Smokers smell like an ashtray, they have bad breath and the sad thing is they don’t know it because their ability to smell and taste is altered.
So if you smoke or use smokeless tobacco take a long hard look in the mirror and ask your self why. You absolutely have the choice to stop tobacco. Ask your physician for help. It is never to late to reverse the damage. Making the choice to quit. Taking control of your health is a gift you give yourself and your loved ones. You will be so glad you did.