Smokers should be warned of damage done to their skin, say doctors

Hand putting out cigarette in ashtrayHealth warnings on cigarette packets would be more effective if they were extended to persuade people of the potential harm smoking could do to their looks. That's the view of a couple of dermatologists who were interviewed by online news channel The Huffington Post. Author Rebecca Adams pointed out that, while a cigarette may help calm the nerves, it is having a detrimental effect on the smoker's blood vessels, thinning them and sending them into a spasm.This decreases the blood's oxygen levels and, said Houston-based dermatologist Dr Milton Moore, who added: "Anything that decreases the oxygen in your blood is going to affect your skin as well." So-called free radicals, which are responsible for accelerating the ageing process in the body, are also released by smoking, said another skin expert, Dr Dina Yaghami, who is based in Chicago. "By smoking, you're releasing higher levels of free radicals in your body and accelerating the aging process of the skin," he said. The habit also affects the production of red blood cells, which, in time, leads to skin becoming paler and rougher, Dr Yaghami added. And while some of these effects can be mitigated by simple cosmetic procedures such as Microdermabrasion and Chemical Peels, they can be more effectively reversed by laser revitalisation treatments, which remove the outer layers of skin, while encouraging the body to produce more collagen, one of the skin's own natural defences. But he warns smokers shouldn't expect to see instant results if they decide to make this new year the one when they resolve to quit: "If you make the decision to stop, you are doing something great for your skin and you will see improvements," he said. "But reversing the damage that was already caused will require intervention."