Can I Wear a Bikini This Summer? I'm Concerned About Sun Exposure to the Scars.

I will be 6 months post op this summer. While researching scar gels, I read online that scars exposed to the sun during the first year may darken. I want to make good decisions and help my scars fade as much as possible. My tummy tuck incision is low enough that a bikini will cover it. But my belly button scar would obviously be totally exposed to the sun in a bikini. Would covering my scars in SPF 50 be good enough or should I wear a one piece bathing suit this summer for more protection?

Doctor Answers 14

Sun exposure to tummy tuck scars

The tummy tuck incision will be covered by your bathing suit and the umbilical scar should be covered with SPF 50. Just remember to keep reapplying the sunscreen because, in strong sunlight, it really doesn't work adequately for more than an hour at most. Sun is the enemy of wound healing so you want to protect the scar by applying sunscreen as much as possible.

New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

Sun protection is always a good idea!

Of course, baking in the sun is obviously never a good idea - wearing your hard-earned bikini with sunscreen on this summer is just fine.  Be sure to reapply it per instructions or after swimming.  I would just keep my eye on it and be aware if you notice any pigment changes. 

Glenn M. Davis, MD, FACS
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 67 reviews

Can I Wear a Bikini This Summer? I'm Concerned About Sun Exposure to the Scars

Wearing a good 30-50 SPF block should give adequate protection, but remember to keep applying it when exposed--probably hourly. 

We were all taught, and we all teach sun avoidance during the first year of would healing, but I am not sure that I have ever seen this happen (hyperpigmentation from sun) in years of practice, and I am quite sure that not all patients follow our instructions!

Thanks, and best wishes. 

Jourdan Gottlieb, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 45 reviews

Sun exposure and scars

Thank you for your question.  Your scar will continue to improve for up to 12 months after surgery.  Scars will stay red for an average of 6-8 months but this varies by patient and can persist with sun exposure.  It is very important to protect your scars with sunscreen and either a one piece bathing suit or high waisted bikini.  Good luck.


Matthew H. Steele, MD
Sioux City Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 85 reviews

Sun protection for abdominoplasty scars

Protecting your scars from UV radiation is important. But, I think that wearing your bikini will be fine this summer. Your questions alone indicate that you are being thoughtful about this. Judicious application of sunscreen will be appropriate using the 30-50 SPF. The umbilical scar should not be all that exposed anyway if you are healing well. 

Wm. Todd Stoeckel, MD
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 84 reviews


Although sun screen might be adequate, I would stick with a one piece this summer, just to be safe. There are some one piece suits that are pretty impressive.

Enjoy your summer.

Gregory Sexton, MD
Columbia Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 73 reviews

About Sun Exposure to the Scars

Thanks for the question. If you used some kind of Silicone sheet to treat your scar I think you should stick it on your belly button when you are exposing yourself to such prolonged sun exposure.I use Mepiform that sitcks so well that it can be kept in place whiele taking shower and does not come out.SPF 50 starts working 30 minutes after its application and is effective for only 4 hours. Wish you good luck.

Ashok Govila, FRCS, MCh, MS
Dubai Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 88 reviews

How to protect tummy tuck scars from the sun

When it comes to scar therapy, we are very involved with our tummy tuck patients to ensure optimal healing and to get the best possible scar.  Therefore, when it comes to protecting the scars from the sun we recommend constant coverage with either a bathing suit or sunblock.  The scars are usually sensitive to ultraviolet light for 8-12 months after a tummy tuck, so I would recommend a one piece and wait for the bikini until next year.  If you happen to be in a situation where the scars will be exposed, I would recommend sun block (SPF 30 is more than adequate) and make sure you reapply after swimming.  Furthermore, massaging the scars with a moisturizing lotion daily is also great for scars.

Jeffrey E. Schreiber, MD, FACS
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 201 reviews

Sun Exposure Following a Tummy Tuck

It is generally regarded that the scar can take anywhere from 12-18 months to completly mature. This being said, it is important throughout that time to protect it from prolonged sun exposure. Should you be exposed for long periods of time with no protection, you run the risk of hyperpigmentation. It is important that while in the sun you exercise extreme caution and use SPF 50 sunscreen applied liberally to the entire scar (including what is covered by your bathing suit) in multiple sessions (sometimes hourly). You would not want to come this far only to have to have a scar revision some day.


I hope this helps you and good luck


Fadi Chahin MD, FACS

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

Diplomat, American Board of Surgery

Diplomat, American Board of Plastic Surgery

Fadi Chahin, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Sunscreen Will Provide Adequate Protection For Scars

You do not need to cover your tummy tuck scars with clothing to protect them from the sun.  Sun exposure can permanently change the color of scars, but an adequate sunscreen (SPF>30) should provide good protection (although you may need to reapply during exposure).

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