Even if the damage has been done after years or decades of smoking, you’ll experience plenty of improvements to your physical, mental and emotional state after you successfully quit.
In this post, let’s talk about the state of your body before and after quitting smoking.
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Dental Health Improvements
A smoker’s teeth, tongue, and the entire oral system endure some of the worst effects of smoking.
Your gums before and after quitting smoking will feel very different, health-wise. If you’re still smoking, you’re at a high risk of encountering gum diseases, such as gingivitis, premature tooth loss, and having a bad taste in your mouth all the time.
You likely don’t want to lose your teeth. By stopping smoking, you can retain them for longer as your gums will have better blood flow, helping the immune system fight infections and heal the damaged areas of your mouth.
More importantly, the improved blood flow after quitting smoking ensures your gums and jawbone also receive nutrients and oxygen, keeping them all healthy.
Lastly, smoking has likely caused stains all over your pearly white teeth, turning them yellowish (even with black spots in some cases). Once you quit smoking, you can have a dentist clean your teeth to remove the stains, giving you a more confident smile.
Simply put, when you stop smoking, your teeth and oral health get drastically better.
While you might have seen smokers who can run marathons or races, it doesn’t mean these athletes aren’t suffering from breathing and oxygenation problems. They still are.
Your lungs suffer the worst from cigarette smoke. It is the primary cause of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and emphysema – you’ve probably seen these two on tobacco warning labels.
The tar and other dangerous chemicals damage the delicate lining of the lungs, with some trapped tar remaining in some sections and blocking airways that help you take in more air and improve blood circulation.
Shortly after quitting, you may feel your breathing is just as difficult as when you were smoking.
The cilia (the defence mechanism inside your airways) is the primary cause of initial breathing problems because they’ve begun clearing out the tar and other dangerous chemicals from cigarettes.
In other words, expect that you’ll be breathing a little hard and coughing for a while, with some mucous discharge to aid your lungs as they get better.
After a few weeks or a month, your lung capacity improves. You have better breathing and increased stamina with zero dangerous chemicals in your body.
Feeling the difference in your lungs before and after quitting smoking, you’ll surely feel much more inclined to a physically active lifestyle now that you won’t feel short of breath after quitting.
Thicker and Fuller Hair
When your body isn’t concentrating on playing defence against the dangerous chemicals of cigarette smoke, you’ll notice a big difference in your hair before and after quitting smoking.
According to studies, smokers put themselves at a high risk of losing hair. Due to poor blood flow in the body caused by smoking, the follicles do not get the nutrients they need.
Smoking is also a primary cause of oxidative stress in the body. High levels of free radicals in your system can significantly damage your DNA and sensitive hair follicles.
If you’re not genetically predisposed to balding, you will notice your hair becoming thicker and fuller again after quitting.
A Livelier Portrait
It might be subtle, but you’ll surely notice the difference in your face before and after quitting smoking.
A smoker’s skin will feel dry and thin. Collagen and elastin (the two important proteins for skin elasticity and firmness) break down faster due to the chemicals consumed in cigarette smoke.
With small amounts of these two proteins, you’ll have premature wrinkles, fine lines, and a dulling complexion. You might also see more acne and psoriasis symptoms if you don’t stop smoking soon.
After quitting smoking, the better blood flow in your body aids in nourishing the skin. It also slows down the breakdown of collagen and elastin proteins, giving your skin and face a fuller and livelier look.
More importantly, once you quit, your complexion also gets better. Chemicals in tobacco cause aging spots, which are dark, grey, or bluish patches of skin. After stopping, skin cell turnover speeds up, improving your complexion better than before.
The Timeline of Recovery
Seeing the before-and-after improvements after you stop smoking, it only takes a few steps to get these benefits and more.
Here’s a helpful quit-smoking journey timeline that shows how much you’ve recovered from the time you’ve made the right decision.
After 6 Days: It’s worthwhile to congratulate yourself even after 6 days of quitting. By this time, you’re nicotine-free, have better antioxidant levels (which help the skin and improve hair growth), and have decreased withdrawal symptoms.
After 1 Month: After a month of quitting, you have a lower risk of developing heart disease and cancer. Any significant damage on the lungs due to smoking has also healed by this time, helping you breathe better. You’ll also see significant changes in your skin and sense of smell and taste.
After 4 Months: As your second quarter without cigarettes begins, you’ll feel strong enough to embark on physical activities. Your lungs are completely nicotine and chemical-free, and you have no more physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms.
After 1 Year: 12 months of quitting has helped your lungs fully recover. You’re also psychologically better without feeling as stressed and anxious as you were while you were smoking. Importantly, you may have noticed some minor weight gain over the year – a completely normal occurrence because your body has returned to a healthier state.
How to Get Started Quitting Today
If you’re ready to get started on your quit journey, you just need to take a few steps towards wellness.
Go Through First-Line Solutions First
Some motivated smokers can handle cold turkey just fine and see success within a few tries, but oftentimes, smokers have strong withdrawals that can draw them back to lighting a stick.
That’s where nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products come in. These are readily available and stocked at your local pharmacy.
NRT products are the most trusted quitting option available for motivated smokers. They might not imitate cigarettes, but they contain a small dose of nicotine that may be enough to alleviate your withdrawals. These come in the form of patches and gums for easy and convenient nicotine delivery.
While NRTs can be effective, they don’t work for everyone. If these haven’t done the trick for you, you may now be eligible for a nicotine prescription to use nicotine vaping products (NVPs).
Chat to a GP
As mentioned, NRT products have worked for many successful ex-smokers. But, you might have ingrained behaviours and triggers that only something that mimics a cigarette can successfully address, such as the hand-to-mouth motion, and needing something to use while having a drink with friends.
That is where NVPs become very handy in helping you fight the urge to consume tobacco.
You need a nicotine prescription before you can purchase NVPs, so you’ll need to consult with a GP to help you on your smoking cessation journey.
And, if your GP deems it necessary, they can write you a nicotine prescription for NVPs.
You can chat to your usual GP about this, or book a bulk-billed phone chat with an authorised prescriber of nicotine.
Visit Your Local Pharmacy
Once you have your nicotine prescription, you can pop down to your local pharmacy. Over 2,200 pharmacies across Australia hold these products in-store, but any pharmacy can order these in for you if they don’t currently stock them.
Both your pharmacist and GP can advise you on how best to use the product, such as the initial setup, and the number of puffs to take when you feel withdrawals.
Everyone wants to have a better quality of life. Quitting smoking can improve your oral health, hair, skin, and more. It’s true that quitting is tough during the first few weeks, but if you keep yourself motivated, it’s easy to see the benefits in your life before and after quitting smoking.
We know that you’re reading this because you want to stop smoking for good. We can help.
Smokefree Clinic gives you access to many medically reviewed and trustworthy resources that can inform and aid you in your path to wellness, so have a look around!
If you’re ready to get started, Smokefree can connect you to bulk-billing Australian healthcare professionals who excel in helping patients quit smoking for good, including using responsible vaping products where appropriate.
Click here to book your bulk-billed telehealth consultation with an Australian healthcare professional and quit smoking today.