How Long Until You Can Use Sunbeds After a Tummy Tuck? Good For Scarring?

ive just had a tummy tuck 2 weeks ago and im really pleased so far, no pain and i feel as if i could run a marathon already! however i was wandering after reading on the internet that using a sun bed can hekp with the healing of the scar, and the finished appearence of it, but just wandered if too soon after surgery will it cause any problems. If so how long should i wait? thanks

Doctor Answers 6

How long until you can use sunbeds after a tummy tuck? Good for scarring?

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Hello! Thank you for your question! After any surgical procedure, you should be careful with incisions as well as avoidance of direct UVA and UVB rays in order to lessen the chance for hyperpigmentation of the skin and scars, which can take several months to resolve, if it ever does. Sunblock is recommended regardless. The ability of the affected area to heal has been slowed and you should try to avoid additional swelling to the area. The area will likely be numb for several weeks to months and will be difficult to feel when sunburn is coming on.

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!

Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Never tan scars

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It's strange that you heard that tanning helps improve scars. Most medical research proves that tanning actually worsens the appearance of scars. Tanning can make the appearance of scars more visible. Not only can it make the scar darker than the surrounding skin, it can also make it worse in texture. Any tanning, even if it's in a tanning bed, is not recommended. 

Tummy Tuck - How Long Until You Can Use Sunbeds After a Tummy Tuck? Good For Scarring?

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Do you mean a tanning salon?  If so - how about never!!  There is increasing evidence that tanning, along with other forms of UVA and UVB exposure, are associated with a substantial increase in the risk of skin cancer.  I would advise against that for almost anyone (full disclosure!) but certainly so for patients who are recovering from surgery.  After surgery, your skin is extra sensitive and I think you're at an increased risk of burns in the short-term, and skin cancer in the long-term.  Neither of those is should, of course, talk to your own plastic surgeon about these and any other issues regarding your procedure.

I hope that this helps, and good luck,

Dr. E

There Is No Such Thing As A Safe Tan

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I am not sure where you have gotten the information that tanning is good for healing.  Perhaps the tanning salon has made this statement, which is NOT true.

There is no such thing as a healthy tan.  Constant tanning (either by sun light or tanning beds) increases your risk of skin cancer and will expedite the aging of your skin (thick, leathery skin).

However, if you do choose to tan, my recommendation is to wait at least 12 months after your surgery, since the blood supply and the sensation to the abdominal is compromised, increasing the chance of a skin burn.

Michael A. Jazayeri, MD
Santa Ana Plastic Surgeon

Tanning after Tummy Tuck

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I would not go anywhere near a tanning bed this soon after surgery. Your sensation is off, you will be much more sensitive to heat and UV rays. I have seen 3rd degree burns right through clothes on healing abdominal skin months after an abdominoplasty. In addition, avoid sun and tanning on all scars for at  least one year. Otherwise, the scar will look worse, and stay red and inflammed much longer. 

Tanning after a tummy tuck

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I generally recommend that tanning after tummy tucks be avoided for 3-4 months but that sunscreens or blocks be applied to the incisions as long as they remain red. 

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 86 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.