12 Mind-Blowing Ways Your Body Heals After You Quit Smoking

Updated: Aug. 28, 2019

When you quit smoking and no longer inhale the 4,800 toxic substances found in cigarettes, you experience enormous positive changes in your health, fitness, and risks of heart disease and cancer.

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man's hands, one holding the other

After 20 minutes

Circulation begins to improve in the hands and feet, says Len Horowitz, MD, a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. Keep on with the smoking and circulation all over your body will suffer. Find out what helped ex-smokers finally quit.

hands holding a plastic heart
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After 2 hours

Pulse, heartbeat, and blood pressure may return to their pre-smoking baseline, Dr. Horovitz says. In the case of pregnant women: the heartbeat of the unborn child will also begin to return to normal. Try these 23 ways to stop smoking for good.

illustration of red blood cells
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After 12 hours

Carbon monoxide in your blood returns to normal, according to the World Health Organization. Carbon monoxide is a poisonous, colorless and odorless gas found in high levels in cigarette smoke, among other things.

man clutching his chest

After 24 hours

Your risk of heart attack may begin to drop, Dr. Horovitz says. Here are 30 more ways to reduce your heart attack risk.

woman smiling and holding a cup of coffee

After 2 days

Your sense of smell and taste may start to improve, Dr. Horovitz says.  Inspired to ditch the habit? This is how you can quit smoking without gaining weight.

man outdoors in the sun breathing deeply
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After 3 days

The repair process in your lungs begins and breathing starts to improve, Dr. Horovitz says. The little hairs on the lungs (cilia) recover. They transport particles from the lungs. Here are even more ways to take back your health after you kick the smoking habit.

A pile of natural tobacco on a white wooden table, a device for manual production of cigarettes and cigarettes in a cigarette case. Smoking. Nicotine addiction. Health hazard.

After 3 weeks

Nicotine is likely completely eliminated from your body, Dr. Horovitz says. Nicotine can be stored in fat cells after years of smoking. As a result, it can take longer to be eliminated based on your weight, he explains. (This is how much nicotine is in one cigarette.)

black woman checking her skin in the mirror

After 3 months

 Skin tone improves, Dr. Horovitz says. Here are more tips to improve your complexion and skin tone from top dermatologists.

chest x-ray with illustration of heart

After 12 months

Your risk of cardiovascular disease is cut in half, The WHO states. “Smoking is the No. 1 cause of heart disease,” Dr. Horovitz points out.

sick old man with sore throat, laryngitis, reflux

After 5 years

The risk of stomach, mouth, throat, esophageal, and lung cancer may be reduced, Dr. Horovitz says. Find out the 9 physical and emotional ways heart disease is different for women. In addition, stroke risk, the WHO states. Smoking is one of the stroke risk factors you can control.

no smoking sign on airplane

After 10 years

The risk of lung cancer continues to drop. The risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, and kidneys continues to drop, Dr. Horovitz says. Here are 30 other ways to prevent cancer.

happy couple laughing

After 15 years

Your risk of heart disease is the same as that of a nonsmoker, WHO states. There are even more ways you can continue to lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.

An ashtray with old smoked cigarettes stands on a black table top view, day

Want to kick the habit in 30 days?

Get more tips about the science of why we smoke and how to stop (without gaining weight) and with proven strategies you can personalize, read I Know You Like to Smoke But You Can Quit Now, available on Amazon. Next, learn more about the 11 things doctors wish you knew about lung cancer.