Should I Avoid Getting a Tan on my Belly Before my Tummy Tuck?

I will be traveling to Cuba 6 weeks before my TT. I will wear a 2 piece bathing suit and I tan quite easily. Will this cause a problem with my skin on my tanned abdomen when it is pulled down? Thanks, Foliebergere

Doctor Answers 13

Tan Lines and Tummy Tucks

Tanning six weeks prior to a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) should not interfere with your surgery as long as you do not suffer any significant sun damage such as a sunburn.  A severe sunburn could lead to cancellation of your surgery.  It is also important to remember that tanning postoperatively has to be done very carefully.  First, the scars need to be protected from the sun for several months to prevent hyperpigmentation (darkening).  Second, the skin on the abdomen will lose some sensation for several months.  So if you are not careful, you can develop a significant sunburn without even knowing it.  Be careful and be smart!

Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 69 reviews

Cuban Tan Before Tummy Tucl

Reasonable sunbathing without burning should NOT interfere with a subsequent Tummy Tuck. Unlike one of my colleagues who uses a tan line to guide scar placement, I always use my patients' underwear to guide me in this task. Since most us unfortunately spend much more time in our underwear than in bathing suit bottoms, it makes much more sense to hide Tummy Tuck scars in the confines of my patients' favorite panties than those of their less used favorite bathing suit bottoms (or their tan lines). Dr. Peter Aldea

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 105 reviews

Tan lines help incision placement before surgery

A nice tan is actually helpful coming into surgery like a tummy tuck or liposuction.  This can help me place your incisions strategically to hide them under your bathing suit.  As mentioned in other posts, do beware of sunburn and the possibility of darker scars if tanning just before or for several months after your surgery.

Randy Wong, MD
Honolulu Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

Tanning prior to tummy tuck

Tanning before a tummy tuck is reasonable as long as you do not get burned or get an excessive tan beyond your normal range. This can lead to more difficulties wiht animation,

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 79 reviews

Careful tanning before should not affect tummy tuck

Tanning before a tummy tuck if carefully done should not affect your surgery, but avoid burning. Tanning after, however, can cause problems. Exposing a healing scar to sun can cause the scar to pigment and become more noticeable. Also it is typical to have some numbness in the lower abdomen for several months after which can make you more susceptible to a burn. Enjoy the sun now, though get your one-piece ready for the upcoming summer.

Best of luck,


Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 41 reviews

Tan Brefore TT OK, But Not Burn

Tanning your abdominal skin prior to your tummy tuck should not present any problems.  A sunburn, on the other hand, might well result in a delay of your surgery.

John Whitt, MD (retired)
Louisville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Should I Avoid Getting a Tan on my Belly Before my Tummy Tuck?

As the previous expert posters state, "It is OK". Just do not burn and all peeling should be over. From MIAMI Dr. Darryl j. Blinski

Darryl J. Blinski, MD
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 171 reviews

Tanning and tummy tucks

No sun or tanning is better than some sun or tanning, but 6 weeks will be long enough that any damage you have is likely to have healed by the time you have a tummy tuck. Certainly post operative tanning is a major risk for damage.

Victor Au, MD (retired)
Chapel Hill Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Tummy tuck

Getting a tan prior a surgery will not make any difference on your outcome.  Getting a tan following surgery may (must keep your scar hidden from the sun).

Shahin Javaheri, MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Tanning and Tummy Tucks

Short answer: NO

Long answer: While I could go on and on about the dangers of sun exposure and cancer risks and how sun damage AGES your skin beyond your years... for the purposes of this question I wont... 

Sun exposure PRE-operatively should not pose any problems

Sun exposure POST-operatively can have negative consequences. Your new incision will be much more sensitive to sun exposure, and it will take far less time in the sun for it to burn compared to the surrounding skin. Here's the kicker: a new incision that gets sunburned will darken... PERMANENTLY, turning a scar that would've been relatively inconspicuous into an unsightly brown scar. Therefore a sunblock (not sunscreen) needs to be applied. Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide. 

Some good news: After the first postoperative year, the incision scar takes on the qualities of normal skin, and the risk of permanent darkening has passed. 

William A. Wallace, MD, FACS
Jacksonville Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 44 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.