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Tanning and Swimming After Transaxillary Breast Implants

What is the normal waiting period? Is it different than with the other surgical methods because of protecting the scar?

Doctor Answers 10

The answer doesn't depend on incisional approach

Regardless of the incision, you should avoid tanning any scar for at least a year so as to not make it dark. I personally ask patients not to do activities that might displace their implants into an abnormal position for at least 8 weeks after surgery. This would include swimming, tennis, and heavy weight training.

Same as other incisions

The recovery guidelines are similar with other incision placements. Avoid sun exposure for a year to prevent hyper pigmentation and do not submerge yourself in water for at least 2 weeks to minimize the risk of infection.

Tanning and swimming after transaxillary breast implants?

Hello! Thank you for your question! On average, a period of approximately 3-4 weeks on average is typical. Submerging in stagnant water, be it bathtubs, jacuzzis, pools, lakes, oceans, etc. can certainly increase your chance for infections. I usually await the incisions to be fully healed prior to allowing for this type of activity. If you do have any wound issues or delayed healing, expect that you will be restricted from doing such things.  However, I allow my patients to shower and clean incisions at 3 days postoperative. You should also protect your incisions from direct UV radiation for at least a year to optimize results. Regardless, the answer will vary amongst plastic surgeons and you should discuss this with your surgeon and follow his/her instructions. Best wishes!

Lewis Albert Andres, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

Swimming after breast augmentation

I usually have patients wait a good 4-6 weeks before engaging in vigorous exercies. You certainly do not want to develop a hematoma early post-op which could lead to further surgery and other complications.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 22 reviews

Each surgeon has his own sets of recommendations

I think it's important to discuss these questions with your surgeon, as all of us have a different set of protocols for both tanning and postop activity. I personally ask patients to not engage in any heavy physical activites for 6 weeks after their procedure, and to not tan their incisions for a year, regardless of the type of incision used.

Shahram Salemy, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 124 reviews

Not different

All skin incisions do not reach their maximum strength until 6 weeks after surgery. This is 80% of normal skin strength and never get stronger. By 4 weeks this tissue is around 50% of normal strength. This is an acceptable time to soak the wound. Normal wetting in the shower doesn't affect the wound but continuous soaking can weaken the incision.

On the other hand scars have a higher propensity for hyperpigmentation or getting darker than your normal skin. This propensity lasts for many years so you have to be very careful when tanning. I would use SPF on the scars for 2-3 years at least.

Use sunblock for a minimum of 3-4 months

I typcially advise sunblock for 3-4 months after surgery. The breast skin itself is more sensitive to sun exposure for a variety of reasons. The scar itself may be photosensitive for a year or two.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 60 reviews

Protect your incisions from tanning

After surgery it is recommended to protect your incisions from tanning. It is best to put an SPF lotion over the incision or protect them from direct exposure for several months while the scar is maturing. As far as swimming, we recommend refraining from vigorous exercise for 12-14 days after surgery. From day one, we recommend that you do light exercise such as walking. Good luck.

David Shafer, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 66 reviews

Talk To Your Doctor

I make my patients wait two weeks before vigorous activities.  I advise no sun to wounds while they are red or pink. 

As an aside, I advise all patients to avoid sun exposure as it is bad for your skin.  Few listen to this however.


Transaxillary augmentation has a similar recovery

We really like the transaxillary approach in breast augmentation as the scar is located well off the breast, and the skin under the arm is lax and heals with a very kind and minimally visible scar. The healing curve is much like any other approach to augmentation and full exercise such as swimming generally should wait about four weeks. Other forms of exercise can start sooner, especially those that don't stimulate the muscles of the chest.

As far as tanning, the underarm is a shaded and protected area, except perhaps on tanning beds, and you should be able to be out and about right after your procedure. For some individuals with more natural pigment in the skin, the scar line may be visible for some time, and sleeveless tops might make some self conscience until the scar blends in well. The transaxillary approach is a very good one and you should enjoy the result.

Best of luck,


Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 37 reviews

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.