How Long Should I Wait to Tan After a Tummy Tuck?

I am 4 months post op as of march 14th and with spring just around the corner was hoping I would be able to start tanning in April or may.

Doctor Answers 9

Avoid tanning

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For about a year the Tummy Tuck scar might get tanned and remain dark forever while the rest of the skin does not, that area is very sensitive and should avoid the sun, but if it cant be helped it is best to use Melarase creams to avoid darker skin tanning.

Melarase creams on a dark tummy tuck scar

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Great question. If you are concerned about pigmentation after a tummy tuck incision, then I would recommend that you use the Melarase creams for at least a few months as a topical skin lightener for your scar. 

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 95 reviews

How Long Should I Wait to Tan After a Tummy Tuck?

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A tan is a skin response to injury. Scars are quite sensitive to ultraviolet radiation from the sun (or tanning bulbs) and it does occasionally happen that if a scar gets "tanned" during the first year, it may remain permanently dark. 

That is one of many reasons to avoid tanning. All the best. 

Jourdan Gottlieb, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon

Tanning beds and plastic surgery? PLEASE NO!

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Thank you your question.  The right answer to your question is to avoid tanning beds, period.  Sorry to be harsh but tanning beds lead to premature aging and worse, skin cancers.  Just to show you how bad it is, it is now illegal in Canada for the under 18's.  Try to picture yourself in 10 years and having to have 1-2 facial scars every 1-2 years for the removal of skin cancers...  Please, avoid the tanning beds.  Use good sunscreens (Dr. Zein Obagi ZO skin health products or DCL), UVA and UVB blocks.  There are also great self-tanners in cream or spray, or invest in good make-up with bronzing powder.  Dr. Marc DuPere, toronto plastic surgeon, board-certified.

Marc DuPéré, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 71 reviews

Tummy tuck and tanning

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You can tan everything but the scar without concern within a couple of weeks after surgery. As other surgeons stated, the scar itself can hyperpigment especially if you have Mediterranean or darker skin.  Hyperpigmentation can take a long time to resolve. Probably the only scar visible will be the one around the belly button, which could be handled with sunscreen.  We have published research in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery that demonstrates that UV light ( the light that produces tanning and sun damage) does not increase the amount of scarring, but as I said will cause pigmentation.

In summary, I would not be concerned about tanning in 3 months.


Tanning after an abdominoplasty

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The skin of your abdomen will be most sensitive to sun exposure for the first 3 months.  If  you want to tan be sure to protect your scars.  If a pink scar gets tanned then it is likely to stay dark permanently.  

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

Tanning after tummy tuck

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Strictly speaking, a medical professional just can't tell you tanning is ever safe. After tummy tuck, as long as your scar is pink and reactive, often a year after, the scar can tend to pigment. Keeping those areas covered is a must.

Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

TT and tanning

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You should understand that tanning is not recommended due to the UV damage that it does.  However, that said, if you must tan, you should not get sun on the incision if it is still red or pink, as it will tend to form a permanently brown line. 

You can shield the incision with clothes or tapes, or swimsuit. 

How long should I wait to tan after a tummy tuck?

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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!

Lewis Albert Andres, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 28 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.