This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the 1964 U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health. It was the first Surgeon General’s Report to recommend that all smokers stop smoking, and that all non-smokers never start. Pretty bold words for 1964. Since that time, U.S. smoking rates have dropped in half.
Plastic Surgeons have long been aware of the many problems that smoking can cause with our patients and with our procedures. A recent article from the journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery compares identical twins and finds significant changes in facial aging for the smoking twin, even if they smoked for just five years.
Which Twin Sister is the Smoker?
Smoking is Bad
In case you’ve not seen the public service announcements, smoking is bad for you. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking harms nearly every organ of your body. Cigarette smoking causes about one in every five deaths, or more than 440,000 deaths each year in the United States. This is more deaths than the combined loss of life from HIV, illegal drugs, alcohol, motor vehicle accidents and firearms.
Smoking causes 90% of all deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), 90% of all lung cancer deaths in men and 80% of all lung cancer deaths in women. More women die from lung cancer each year than from breast cancer.
Smoking damages blood vessels, which causes the wall of the blood vessels to thicken. Thicker blood vessel walls lead to smaller blood vessel lumens, and a restriction in the amount of blood the vessel can carry. To supply enough oxygen to your cells, your heart beats faster and your blood pressure goes up. It also increases your risk of blood clots, especially if you are a woman taking birth control pills. As a result, smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to develop heart disease and strokes – the leading causes of death in the US.
The Secret to a Long Life is Good Blood Vessels
Smoking’s attack on blood vessels is particularly problematic for Plastic Surgery. Procedures like Facelifts, Breast Reduction and Tummy Tucks rely on normal circulation to heal. Smoking clamps the small vessels off, leading to six times the risk of wound problems after surgery. The changes can be seen on the faces of twins with differing smoking histories.
Which Twin Brother is the Smoker?
The More Examples the Clearer the Picture
The ASPS article referenced to in this post has many more examples of twins with varying smoking histories. The article, and others like it, demonstrate that smoking is an independent risk factor for facial aging. Thank you to Dr. Guyuron and his Plastic Surgery colleagues at Case Western for attending the Twin Days Festival in Twinsburg, Ohio, and identifying 79 pairs of twins with divergent smoking histories.
Never a Better Time to Quit Smoking
Numerous serious bad health effects and accelerated aging are two big sticks to help motivate smokers to become nonsmokers, so you might be asking, “Where’s the carrot?” If you have been considering Plastic Surgery, consider it the carrot. Many procedures are much safer for nonsmokers. I have had many patients quit smoking for their Cosmetic Surgery, and then remain nonsmokers because they feel better not smoking. That is what we call a win-win. You can look better and be healthier with the proper motivation.
For more information about Cosmetic Plastic Surgery in the San Francisco Bay Area, check out my websites, and give me a call at (925) 943-6353.