Stoptober: Twin Photo Study Shows How Smoking Causes Premature Ageing

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Let's not start Stoptober with preachy facts. We could throw facts at you until the cows come home, but why use numbers when a picture can say a thousand words?

We were given access to a photographic investigation of sets of twins - with rather different smoking habits - and it has revealed just how much cigarettes can age the skin.

The results are shocking.

american society of plastic surgeons

Twin on the left has smoked for 17 years longer than the twin on the right. Note the differences in lower lid bags and upper and lower lid wrinkles

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Researchers identified pairs of identical twins, at the annual Twin Days Festival, Ohio, who differed by smoking history.

Each pair comprised either of a smoker and a non-smoker or two smokers - one of whom had been smoking for at least five years longer than their sibling.

american society of plastic surgeons

The twin on the right is a smoker and the twin on the left is a non-smoker. Note the differences in nasolabial folds (lines between the nose and mouth)

A professional photographer took close-up photographs of each twin's face and each set of siblings also completed questionnaires regarding their medical and lifestyle histories.

Without knowledge of the twins' smoking history, plastic surgeons analysed the twins' facial features, including grading of wrinkles and age-related facial features. The goal was to identify "specific components of facial ageing" that were affected by smoking.

Their conclusion? Smokers looked older - with more sagging of the upper eyelids; bags of the lower eyelids and under the eyes; twins who smoked also had higher scores for facial wrinkles (including more pronounced nasolabial folds (lines between the nose and mouth), wrinkling of the upper and lower lips and sagging jowls).

american society of plastic surgeons

Twin on the left is a non-smoker and the twin on the right smoked for 29 years. Note the difference in periorbital ageing

american society of plastic surgeons

Both twins are smokers. The twin on the right has smoked for 14 years longer than his brother

Among twins with more than five years' difference in smoking history, the average difference in smoking history was 13 years.

Twins with a longer duration of smoking had worse scores for bags on the lower lids and under the eyes and lower lip wrinkles.

Results are published in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

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