Smoking Makes You Look Older, Study of Identical Twins Finds

By Alyana Alfaro
|  Tuesday, Oct 29, 2013  |  Updated 7:45 PM EDT
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Smoking Makes You Look Older, Study of Twins Finds

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery/American Society of Plastic Surgeons

The twin on the right is a smoker; the twin on the left is a nonsmoker.

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Smoking really does make you look older, a study of twins published Tuesday in the journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery found.

Researchers went to the Twins Day festival in Twinsburg, Ohio, which bills itself as the world's largest annual gathering of twins, and studied 79 sets of identical twins, at least one of whom had been smoking for at least five years longer than the other twin.

Passport-style photos of the twins were taken, and then plastic surgeons analyzed the pictures looking for "specific components of facial aging."

The result?

Twins who had been smoking for less time, or not at all, had significantly younger-looking faces. The smokers had upper eyelids that drooped, lower lids that sagged, increased wrinkling around the mouth and sagging facial skin, or jowls. The differences were more prominent in the twins' middle and lower faces than in their upper faces, the study found.

Even for pairs where both twins were smokers, the study found that the twin who had been smoking longer had noticeable signs of aging that the identical sibling did not have.

The reason?

Smoking limits the amount of oxygen that reaches the skin, the study's lead author, Dr. Bahman Guyuron, told Today.

"It is noteworthy that even among sets of twins where both are smokers, a difference in five years or more of smoking duration can cause visibly identifiable changes in facial aging," Dr. Guyuron wrote in the paper.

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