Why do Non-smokers get Smoker’s Lines?
Do You Have Smoker’s Lines, But You’ve Never Smoked?
Chronological age and biological age are two different things. The process of ageing is only remotely connected to your true age. Your physical appearance is sometimes an indicator of your biological age, which sometimes can be deceptive especially if you have smoker’s lines.
Smoker’s lines, lipstick lines or vertical lines – whatever you call them, are one of the signs of ageing. These stubborn wrinkles may appear around the lips and mouth. Smoking is the leading cause of smoker’s lines. In 2016, 15.6% of Australian adults or nearly 3 million people still smoked tobacco. After a steady decline in smoking in Australia for several decades, smoking rates have stalled and did not change significantly from 2013 -2016.
Regular smoking constricts blood vessels and reduces the oxygen supply to different body tissues, making them age faster and contributes to the development of smoker’s lines. However, you do not have to be a smoker to get smoker lines. In fact, smoker lines mostly affect females whether they smoke or not. The exact cause of the higher incidence in females is not known but they may be related to several factors such as the following:
- Light skin: People with light skin are prone to higher level of sun damage, which can accelerate the development of wrinkles such as smoker lines.
- Genetics: If your parents develop wrinkles or smokers lines earlier, your chances of developing it are significantly higher. Sometimes it’s just the actual mimicking of parent expressions that is the cause of these lines.
- UV rays: Sunlight can damage the elastin (helps to keep skin flexible and tight) and collagen (helps in firmness, suppleness and constant renewal of skin cells) in the skin. People whose jobs expose them to the sun for extended periods of time are at a greater risk of developing wrinkles, smoker’s lines and other skin impurities.
- Facial expressions: People who repeatedly pout usually develop wrinkles and smoker lines earlier than others who do not express emotions often. Interestingly enough, we only see female smokers with these lines. Male smokers tend to purse rather than pout. Approximately half of the females we see are non smokers and hence we can conclude this expression is one of the few expressions predominantly in females. Each time you use a facial muscle, a groove forms under the skin surface. When you are young, the skin springs back, but over time it loses its flexibility to spring back and becomes harder, resulting in permanent wrinkles.
- Sleeping: The way you sleep may actually result in the formation of smoker lines. No matter how soft your pillow, it puts additional pressure on your face. Over the years, this can create lines in your cheeks, chin or forehead.
- Dieting: According to experts, yo-yo dieting (losing and gaining back a large amount of weight) can damage the skin. This is due to the repeated stretching of the skin when you gain or lose weight, which damages the elastic structure of the skin.
These lines, know as peri-oral lines are difficult to treat when they become deep, so early treatment is recommended.
So how can I treat my Smoker’s Lines?
- Botox: This procedure uses Wrinkle Relaxer injections into the muscles to relax them and stop the development of facial wrinkles.
- Dermal fillers: Premium Dermal Fillers can be injected into the target area to fill-in lines, define the appearance and replace lost volume.
- PDO threads: PDO Threads use a fine needle with special dissolvable threads made of Polydioxanone (PDO) to be injected into the skin to stimulate collagen and elastin production.
- Retinol: Skincare with Retinol thickens deeper skin layers and thins out superficial layers to relax smoker lines and make them look smoother. For long term results, use retinol creams that contain collagen-boosting ingredients.
Smoking in Australia:
Tapley, D. (1994). The Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons Complete Home Medical Guide, page 125.
Perry, A., et al (1997). Are You Considering Cosmetic Surgery?, page 7.