Is tanning and shaving really a problem before a Tummy Tuck?

Doctor Answers 8

Tanning, shaving and tummy tuck

As far as I know the only studies regarding these subjects relate to shaving a day or two before surgery. It is not recommended because there are micro-tears in the skin and hair follicles that can lead to increase bacteria and increased infection rate after surgery. You should not get a sun burn prior to the surgery but a stable tan should not be a problem and shaving greater than 2-3 days prior to the surgery should not be a problem. Always check with your surgeon because we all have different ideas as to how to handle before and afetr instructions.

Harrisburg Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 34 reviews

Tanning and shaving before surgery

Your skin should be healthy and as undamaged as possible before your surgery. Tanning and shaving both damage the skin to a certain extent, which could increase your risk of complications (most notably infection). You may also have a prolonged recovery.

Leila Kasrai, MD, FRCSC
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 66 reviews

Tanning and shaving before a TT

You should ask your surgeon as every surgeon has their own pre-op protocol and recommendations to make sure everything goes smoothly. 

Good Luck!

Larry S. Nichter, MD, MS, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 154 reviews

Is tanning and shaving really a problem before a Tummy Tuck?

I would not recommend tanning before a TT because it may inflame the abdominal skin as well as lead to increased postoperative pigmentation. Also, you should not right before the TT because the trauma of shaving may increase the possibility of post-op infection. You should be guided by your PS in terms of instructions and his recommendations. Good luck!

George Lefkovits, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
3.8 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

Tummy Tuck

Thank you for your question. We have a recommended protocol that patients are to follow prior to surgery which indicates no shaving 4 days prior to to your procedure. As a plastic surgeon I do not recommend ultraviolet sun exposure. However, you should stop tanning 2 weeks prior to your procedure in order to prevent pigmentation problems near your suture line. 

Best of luck in your endeavors! 


James Fernau, MD, FACS
Board Certified ENT
Board Certified Plastic Surgery
Member of ASPS, ASAPS, ISAPS, The Rhinoplasty Society, AAFPRS, OTO/HNS, ASLMS, International Federation for Adipose Therapeutics & Science

James Fernau, MD, FACS
Pittsburgh Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 75 reviews

Tanning and shaving

Tanning prior to an incision can make it more dark while it is healing.  The ideal situation is to have skin which is not tan at all prior to a surgery. 
If you're going to shave prior to the procedure, do it with clippers, as this will not cause microtrauma to the skin of a razor going along it.  This can decrease the risk of infection.  In the end, these risks are small, but if you want to be as safe as possible, avoid tanning and razor shaving prior to the procedure.
Best of luck!

Dr. Subbio
Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon
Newtown Square/Philadelphia, PA

Christian Subbio, MD
Philadelphia Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 65 reviews

Shaving, suntans and surgery

Thanks for your question. There is evidence that shaving can lead to small nicks in the skin that may increase the risk of infection. While the risks are low we prefer our patients not to shave a few days before surgery. In our operating room (and most others) we use an electric hair clipper which  is less likely to cause these nicks.

With respect to tanning, it is unlikely to cause healing issues, but in the long term it will tend to make your skin looser and can increase the risk of skin cancer. Despite this a tan line helps me to plan my incisions below the bathing suit line.

Best wishes.

Adam Tattelbaum, MD
Washington DC Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 104 reviews

Tummy tuck

Hello and thank you for your question.  I would not recommend tanning one month prior to your tummy tuck.  Shaving is fine.  If you are an appropriate candidate, a tummy tuck can be done through a low and short incision, all completely below the bikini line.  Your muscles can also be plicated resulting in a flat abdomen.  Make sure you specifically look at before and after pictures of real patients who have had this surgery performed by your surgeon and evaluate their results.  The most important aspect is to find a surgeon you are comfortable with. I recommend that you seek consultation with a qualified board-certified plastic surgeon who can evaluate you in person.

Best wishes and good luck.

Richard G. Reish, M.D.
Harvard-trained plastic surgeon

Richard G. Reish, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 125 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.