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How smoking cigarettes impacts our skin, hair and teeth

As a cigarette smoker, you are no doubt aware of the increased risk for diseases like cancer, heart

disease, and stroke. But you might not realise it can also impact your skin, teeth and hair. Ahead of No Smoking Day on 8th March we hear from three experts on what procedures could counteract these issues.

Sophie Attwood Communications I want to stop smoking cigarettes World No Smoking Day
How smoking affects the skin

‘Smoking is extremely detrimental to skin health,’ explains Aesthetics and anti-ageing expert, Nina Prisk, of Update Aesthetics. ‘The chemicals in tobacco impact the circulation of blood around the body and so there is less blood flow to the face. This means that the skin receives less oxygen and nutrients and so it can often take on a grey or white pallor. In addition to this it’s believed that smoking affects the body’s natural collagen production. Collagen is the protein that gives skin its health and elasticity. A decline in collagen levels can result in skin sagging and wrinkling, or in other words it speeds up the skin’s natural ageing process.’

‘Smoking manifests itself in visible changes to a person’s face,’ adds Nina Prisk. ‘In the long term it can cause fine lines and wrinkles to develop on the face. The area around the mouth specifically can be a problem for smokers, who have a tendency to develop lines and wrinkles which are caused by the repeated pursing of lips around the cigarette. Similarly, this can also cause lines to develop around the eyes which are often known as ‘crow’s feet’.’

Nurse Nina non invasive cosmetic treatments natural look
Nina Prisk, Update Aesthetics
How to address the impact of smoking on the skin

‘Whilst the best thing for optimum skin health is to stop smoking, there are a number of things that can be done to address the signs of smoking on the face including:

  • Dermal fillers

‘Dermal fillers can be used to plump the skin on the face giving a more youthful and fuller appearance to the skin. ‘Administered via a cosmetic injection they help to fill out lines and wrinkles in the face. Results vary from one person to another but you can usually expect them to last from 6-12 months.’

  • Lip augmentation

‘Using dermal fillers in the lips can add volume and also smooth out smoker’s lines as well as adding volume.’

  • Profhilo

‘The skin can be rejuvenated with Profhilo which is an injectable moisturiser. Made from highly concentrated, purified hyaluronic acid. When injected under the skin in specific areas of the face it can help to address sagging skin and rejuvenate the skin’s appearance.’

How smoking affects hair

‘Smoking significantly affects the blood circulation and can mean that the hair follicles don’t get the essential oxygen and nutrients that they need for healthy hair growth,’ explains renowned expert Hair transplant surgeon, Dr Furqan Raja of Harley Street’s The Private Clinic. ‘Smoking may also affect the DNA which can damage hair follicles and impact the hair’s natural growth cycles. Consequently, smoking can promote hair loss and thinning.’

How to address the hair thinning and loss caused by smoking

’The most effective way to reduce hair thinning and loss caused by smoking is cessation. There are a number of other things that can be done to reduce hair loss. Topical treatments can help to address hair thinning and loss, as well as PRP or Platelet-Rich Plasma therapy which works by taking a small amount of blood and separating it in a centrifuge. The platelet rich plasma contains stem cells and growth factors which are separated from your blood and injected into the scalp. The growth factors can stimulate the activity of the hair follicles and promote hair growth.

Afterwards there’s no significant downtime or scarring and from six weeks most of my patients will start to notice a response, usually describing thicker and better quality hair. Hair restoration surgery can also be an extremely effective option for people experiencing hair thinning and bald patches. It involves minimal discomfort, once the local anaesthetic has been administered it is generally pain-free. The procedure that I perform at The Private Clinic is usually performed in one day and you are able to go home straight after. The average age of the patient that I see for a hair transplant is 35.5 years and 98% of my patients report that their hair transplant surgery has significantly improved their confidence and self-esteem.’

How smoking affects teeth

‘Smoking poses many negative effects to the mouth, gums and teeth,’ explains Leading cosmetic dentist and founder of Bespoke Smile Advanced Dentistry and Academy, Dr Sam Jethwa of Bespoke Smile. ‘Firstly there’s the obvious problem of staining of the teeth due to the nicotine and tar in the tobacco. It can make the teeth yellow in the short term and then brown over the longer term.’

‘Smoking can also lead to gum recession and disease,’ explains Dr Sam Jethwa. ‘Smoking causes a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream, so that infected gums don’t heal and people who smoke are more likely to produce bacterial plaque, and this is what leads to gum disease. Gum disease is a huge problem in the UK and the most common cause of tooth loss in adults.’

How to address the impact of smoking on the teeth
  • Discoloration

Teeth whitening can be an effective way to address the staining and discolouration caused by smoking,’ explains Dr Sam Jethwa. ‘I would urge people to avoid buying teeth-whitening products online or being tempted to try dangerous TikTok whitening hacks which can be extremely damaging to teeth. Instead, speak with your dentist about safe and effective whitening. However, a lot of people don’t realise that normal whitening won’t be as effective if teeth are older and so veneers can be a good option in this case.’

  • Long teeth/Receding gums

‘The receding gums that are often caused by smoking can look very ageing,’ explains Dr Sam Jethwa. ‘Good oral hygiene is one of the best ways to prevent receding gums. However once the gums have receded and the roots of teeth are exposed then they need to be covered to prevent them wearing away more, in which case veneers can help with this as improving them from an aesthetics sense.’

Gum grafting is also a fantastic option to address receding gums and make teeth look younger. The process involves taking gum from synthetic material or elsewhere in the mouth and then stitching it into the gums. I’ve had this done myself and it works really well. It's something that I prescribe a lot of to patients who are wishing to address receeding gums and make teeth look younger.’

Experts agree that giving up cigarettes is very difficult but it is not impossible and most people have to try more than once. Only 4%-7% succeed without help. Ask your doctor which smoking-cessation strategies might be right for you.

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