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How long does it take for your body to heal/recover after smoking cigarettes?

By February 13, 2009 - 2:19pm
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I quit smoking nearly 10 years ago after nearly 20 years of smoking almost a pack a day.

I read somewhere that it takes the body a very long time to "heal" itself after all that poison in the system which is a bit disappointing after all the work it takes to quit.

does anyone know if the body ever really recovers from a 20 year smoking habit? I was under 35 when I quit.

thank you

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Regardless of the length of time one has quit smoking, you are still at risk of getting lung cancer. I advocate any ex-smoker to get a yearly chest x-ray regardless of the number of years of being an ex-smoker. I have posted by story under non small cell lung cancer for reference. In summary, I was an ex-smoker of 12 years and was diagnosed with NSCLC stage !!B. I had my upper and middle lobes of my right lung removed. The cancer was discovered during a pre-op chest x-ray for another surgical procedure. The tumor was the size of a fist --- 4 inches. Please don't be lulled into a sense of complacency when you do quit smoking. Demand that you get a yearly chest x-ray from your doctor.

December 15, 2011 - 6:58am
EmpowHER Guest

I have read that it takes three months for you to have improved lung funtion after quitting and a year, even better. I have just quit.

November 22, 2011 - 6:35am
EmpowHER Guest

Hi Sandya,

Your story sounds so familiar. My Mother is a chain smoker as well and I went out of town for a seminar (leaving my dog with her) and when I returned, my dog smells like smoke. I also did not smoke inside the house. Actually, I HATED the smell of it but just couldn't seem to kick the habit. I walk into her house only to smell like an ashtray when exiting. This should be a FINE reminder that you no longer want to smell like that.

My suggestion about possible weight gain, do something to raise your heart rate in the morning time. An extra workout per day will definitely combat any weight gain. I did not experience any weight gain although, I am extremely active. Most literature suggests 5 to 10 lbs within a year...if you can maintain your weight for a year, you should be ok.

Also, I am not sure if you were a menthol smoker, but I was and brushing my teeth a few extra times a day and inhaling after I was done helped me get over that minty taste in my mouth that menthol cigarettes felt like...

I hope this helps too. I am fascinated by the fact that I quit. I smoked from age 9 until 32...thats way too long but I am so glad that I quit.

Best of luck,


November 13, 2011 - 11:10am

Thanks Miscortes,
I do work out. Nothing major, just the 8 minute series of pilates at home. I do know that I feel so good after working out, so maybe I can work out harder and longer now. I'm sure I will start gaining weight faster now. Did you gain much when you quit? This time there is no bandwagon for me. I have to quit. It is way past due. I already know how bad I will feel, but will just have to deal one day at a time. It is like losing your best friend. I don't know what I will do with all the extra time in the morning. I used to sit around drinking coffee and smoke about 7 cigarettes, then I didn't smoke until 12 hours later, but would catch up. I wish they never made those things. The government should just ban them. Thank god my kids don't smoke. I have a grandson now and don't want him to remember me with a cigarette in my mouth, like I remember my parents. My mom is 79 and still smokes like a train. I just accept it with her because that is her life, but I don't want to be like her. She even smokes in her house, so no one wants to visit. Including me. It always makes me sick and I get a sinus infection, but she won't even go outside when people visit. I have never smoked in the house, so I have to waste time going outside. I call it my office, where I do all of my thinking.
Everyone please keep up your posts. Love to hear how everyone does.

November 13, 2011 - 10:04am
EmpowHER Guest

Hi Sandya,

I am also an ex-smoker (over a year now, with some pit stops in the middle). I also used Chantix and my best advice to you is to NOT PICK UP A CIGARETTE. My many pit stops included alcohol and smoking. I live in Ohio where there is a smoking ban but every time I go back home to Pennsylvania (no smoking ban), I tend to fall off the bandwagon for the weekend etc.


The absolute worst feeling is knowing that your body will go right back to smoker within one day. Reminding myself not to fall back into the habit is a constant effort. You are not alone. Every day that I do not smoke, the better I feel. I am not sure if you exercise but the euphoria from working out is WAY better then the toxic materials in a 5 minute cigarette. I have faith in you...keep up the good work on staying "sober" and away from nicotine.

Best of luck,


November 12, 2011 - 10:59am

I just started Chantix for the 2nd time. 2 months was just not enough for me last time, so I will stay on longer-possibly 6 this time. I promised myself I would quit by age 35 and I am now 48. For that many years I have been so disgusted with it, making me a closet smoker, which is stressful in itself. I work in the Health-Care Industry and it is not acceptable anymore. My husband has to pay $650.00 more per year for health insurance because he smokes. We always tried to quit together and that does not work. We would get so angry at each other while quitting that it was unbearable. I think it is better if I quit myself and let him quit when he is ready. I hope he will support me because I never want to start up again. I have been smoking since I was a child and my father died of lung cancer. I may already have it=who knows. I used to think that it seemed like people quit and their cells kind of went crazy because their bodies were so used to the smoking, and they got cancer soon after quitting. That was always on my mind and no one can prove it false. But I don't care anymore, I am sick of being a prisoner of cigarettes, stinking, bad taste in my mouth, wrinkles starting around my mouth. I have tried atleast 10 times to quit. Maybe we can help each other through it. I might be able to answer some questions that I came across in previous attempts and give some insight. I think outside support is great because you get to where you don't want to talk about it at home because it makes you want one all the more, so you try to ignore it. I think privately having support it a great idea.

November 11, 2011 - 3:20pm
EmpowHER Guest

Excuses are just that: excuses. Mind over matter. I just quit 8 days ago. Even took 4 puffs off my boyfriend's cigarette this morning. The ONLY way to do it is cold turkey. Believe it or not, after the nicotine leaves your system, which for me took 6 days. It's all psychological. You either want to quit. Or you don't. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. I can say that proudly because i just quit and that was the only way. The truth hurts. Always has, always will. Be prepared to freak out and cry a lot and hurt really bad on the inside.

November 10, 2011 - 10:34am
EmpowHER Guest

it has been four weeks, i feel great..i listened to easy way to stop smoking cd by allen carr. it works.

November 5, 2011 - 6:14am
(reply to Anonymous)

Wondering how you are doing now. I quit 11/15/11 and feel great, but still crave. I have gained some weight despite exercising and walking. I have maybe two real tough times per day, but just ignore the thought. I know I eat more, so I am also working on that. I have to keep myself busy at all times, but I never could sit around anyways. Mornings are hard. I sleep until the very last minute so that I get up and get ready. I used to sit around smoking for an hour or so with my coffee, but now I found that I really don't like the taste of coffee much any more. Hope you are doing well. Keep us posted.

January 19, 2012 - 5:33pm
EmpowHER Guest

I was a smoker for 10/11 years. Started at 15 years old and now at 26 I am 9 days smoke free. I'm using Chantix and it is really helping me. When i smoked my last cigarette, I was so scared because I had tried to quit many times before but it hasn't been that bad. I still think about smoking a couple times a day but I find that I can quickly get rid of the thought to smoke. I have recently started coughing up brownish/blackish mucus.......(gross I know). But that shows me what was inside me! I am looking forward to working out again and being able to breathe!

August 22, 2011 - 10:18am
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