As Seen in Time Out New York Magazine
Mind & Body
Smoke — Just how much damage to your face does a pack-a-day do?
By Emily Weiner
Our style editor Kristina Dechter, 29, has been smoking since age 14. While her skin looks pretty good, we were curious to see her face really close-up, and how it compared to that of a nonsmoker. So we sent her to plastic surgeon Dr. Allison Pontius at Nabi MedSpa, who inspected her face with a digital-imaging skin-analysis machine.
"Smoking is one of the major causes of premature skin aging," Dr. Pontius warns, adding that the longer a smoker, the more wrinkled, dull and leathery her face will become.
"The exhaled smoke dries and dehydrates the skin's surface," she explains, while inhaled smoke "constricts blood vessels and reduces the amount of oxygen flowing to the skin." Smoking also causes the breakdown of collagen (which maintains elasticity). Plus, "the repetitive puckering of the mouth and squinting of the eyes leads to wrinkles and crow's feet." After scanning photos of Kristina into a database and comparing them to those of thousands of other women her age (see percentiles above), Dr. Pontius deduced that "she actually did fairly well. Though she does have some visible wrinkles around her eyes and some irregular skin texture that is smoking- and sun damage-related," a lot of the harm hasn't surfaced yet. She explained that it will hit Kristina hard between the ages of 35 and 40, particularly if she doesn't stop smoking now. "Vanity will probably get the best of me," Kristina commented. "What I'd really hate to see is what my lungs look like."
While quitting will immediately improve the quality of her skin, Pontius explains "that the wrinkles that formed from smoking will stay." Noninvasive procedures, like alpha-beta acid peels ($145), can improve the skin's texture. And while fine lines won't fix themselves, Botox (about $350 per area) and Restylane ($500 per syringe) "work wonders."