I am noticing on after photos of breast procedure patients that they have new and very pronounced tan lines. My understanding is that sun exposure can have adverse affects on surgery results. As a result I intend on avoiding the sun after my abdominoplasty and breast lift/augmentation. Am I being too cautious? Is it safe to tan after plastic surgery?
Does a Suntan Affect Healing?
Doctor Answers 7
Tanning and surgery
Thanks for the question Nancy -
You are correct - sun exposure can make scars either darker or lighter (hyper or hypo pigmented). Which happens is not completely predictable. As a result avoiding sun exposure on new scars (either with avoiding the sun or a good sunscreen) is an excellent way to minimize the appearance of scars.
I hope this helps.
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Tanning after tummy tuck
Sun exposure and scars
Sun exposure on scars especially early post-op should be avoided. It may lead to hyperpigmentation. Sun protection or staying out of the sun are important.
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Does a suntan affect healing?
Typical recommendations include wearing a hat and/or sunblock to the affected area for at least 6-12 weeks following the procedure. It takes up to one year for scars to fully mature. You should also avoid trauma to the area for several months to protect the refinements made during the procedure. Also, avoidance of pools/lakes/jacuzzis/etc for 4-6 weeks is usually recommended to allow adequate healing and protection from stagnant water, that could potentially harbor bacteria. Lifting/exercise restrictions are common for at least 7 weeks. Certainly discuss the postoperative instructions with your surgeon, as thoughts differ among surgeons. Hope that this helps! Best wishes!
Tanning after tummy tuck (abdominoplasty)
You are very astute in your observations and yes, we generally advise avoidance of sun exposure after a tummy tuck or any surgery. However, the vast majority of patients have been so distraught by their abdominal appearance that they had previously avoided the use of bathing suits. The improvement in their abdominal contours and overall self esteem is one of the motivating factors for them proudly showing off their results. In any case, extremes of sun exposure should be avoided particularly in the early postoperative period. Burns and or scar hyperpigmentation may occur and the skin will eventually show signs of photo-aging and loss of elasticity.
Suntan and its healing after a tummy tuck
Tummy tucks are a very popular and effective way to contour the abdomen. Like all surgery, tummy tucks will leave a scar and if done properly, this car will be in a position that will be least noticed. However, keep in mind that a scar is made of fragile and young skin tissue that is very sensitive to sunlight. For this reason, in our practice, we recommend that patients protect their scar from sunlight for at least 10 to 12 months. We recommend that patients use the two compression garments that we give them for at least 5 to 6 months. During this time, patients began the skin care treatment of their scars with a skin cream and silicone sheets. We ask that patients continue to use a sunblock with an SPF of at least 50 as well as the silicone sheets on the scars for at least 10 to 12 months after their surgery. Using this regimen, our patients are able to benefit from a thin and faint scar that they can appreciate for the rest of their lives.
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These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.