Sunlight and smoking have a profound effect on the skin aging, skin cancer and sagging skin on the face and body. Sunlight and smoking account for over 90 percent of the symptoms of premature skin aging.
Both the UVA and UVB cause skin damage that includes wrinkles, pigmentation, lowered immunity against infection and cancer.
In the dermis, UV radiation causes collagen to break done faster than it should for your actual age. Sunlight-damaged collagen fibers cause abnormal elastin to form. When abnormal elastin accumulates, an enzyme called metalloproteinase is produced in large amounts. Normally metalloproteinases remodel sun-damaged skin by making and rebuilding the collagen. Due to the over production of metalloproteinases, the process does not work well and collagen is actually broken down instead of built up. This results in the formation of disorganized collagen fibers known as wrinkles.
UV radiation also is one of the major creators of free radicals. Free radicals are unstable oxygen molecules that have only one electron instead of two. The oxygen molecules then scavenge other molecules stealing electrons to make a pair. This process is repeated and repeated, causing damage to cell function and altering genetic material of the cell, causing cancer of the skin.
Smoking speeds up the normal aging process of your skin and body. And yes, too many people are still smoking in Toronto. These changes can start happening after only 10 years of smoking. If you start smoking in your teens, your skin will start to age in your mid twenties.
The nicotine in cigarettes causes the blood vessels to narrow and shrink in the outermost layers of the skin. This impairs blood flow to the skin. With less blood flow, your skin does not get as much oxygen and important nutrients such as Vitamin A. There are as many as 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke that cause damage to collagen and elastin, which give you skin its tone, strength and elasticity. Skin will begin to sag, on the face and body areas including breast, calf and arm. Smoking has proven to be associated with increasing baldness in men.
Taking care of skin health is extremely important for men and women of all ages. There are medical products, prescription medications, medical laser procedures (IPL, profractional, laser resurfacing) and cosmetic surgical procedures (facelift, neck lift) available to alter the signs of damaged skin. Consider Obagi sunscreen and ZO Skin Health. These treatments are available at the Visage Clinic in Toronto under the direction of Dr. Marc DuPéré, Board Certified Cosmetic Plastic Surgeon.
by Joyce Palmer