Sun Sensitivty After Laser, Will it Increase Risk of Skin Cancer While Healing?

Can unprotected sun exposure in the near period after laser treatment for moles and non ablative laser for post acne scars promote cancer (in skin or nevi) as laser increase skin sensitivty to sun? I mean, can laser make the skin more vulnerable to sun induced cancer if there is unprotected sun exposure following treatment ? Is it enough to apply sunblock with spf 50 once per day?

Doctor Answers 5

Lasers and Sun Sensitivity

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Thank you for your question. Any unprotected sun exposure can increase your risk of skin cancer.  After laser, you are a bit more sun sensitive to sunburn, but if you stay protected with an SPF 30 with zinc, sun protect, reapply every 2 hours, and wear sun protective clothing, you will be just fine and are not increasing your risk for skin cancers.  There are too many variables to give you exact percentages, time lines, as this will have to account for your prior exposure, and existing risk factors which are impossible to accurately determine. But sun exposure specifically after laser is not increasing your risk of skin cancer if you stay protected. Any questions can be answered by your board certified dermatologist. I hope this helps.

Sun sensitivity after laser

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

The probability of skin cancer will not increase due to sun exposure post laser. The risk of hyperpigmentation is increased post laser due to sun exposure. Moreover, you will be sensitive to the sun and more likely to get sun burn. For that reason, use of a good sunscreen is very important during this time. 

Kris M. Reddy, MD, FACS
West Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 56 reviews

Sun-sensitivity after Laser and Inherent Risk of Skin Cancer

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Unprotected sun-exposure after a laser procedure will not increase your inherent risk of skin cancer, thought the area will be more sensitive and prone to getting a sun burn and some undesired outcomes in wound healing such as prolonged or persistent hyperpigmentation.


It is not sufficient to apply a sunscreen once per day, particularly if your have recently had a procedure, if you are going to be out and about running errands etc, or if you are working outdoors or participating in any outdoor activities.

Sunscreen does not provide 100% protection even at time zero. UVa, UVb protection wears off pretty rapidly over a 2 hour period. Especially for women concerned about re-applying sunscreen after putting on make-up, there are now an abundant amount of cosmetically elegant sheer mineral sun protection powders and retractable brushes that are highly portable and allow you continued UV protection through out the day. My personal favorite is Colorescience Sunforgettable SPF30 Very Water Resistant retractable brush.

Sun senstivity after laser

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

There is a concern that if there is unprotected sun exposure on lasered skin there could be greater risk of post inflammatory hyperpigmentation and sun sensitivity.  This has not been proven.  If a patient is at risk of post inflammatory hyperpigmentation, then they should not expose themselves to the sun without protection.

Ronald Shelton, MD
Manhattan Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

Sun sensitivity after laser

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Unprotected sun exposure after laser treatment while not the best idea should not really effect cancer risk. The usual problem with sun exposure after laser is hyperpigmentation which can be treated with creams. Best to use sunblock.

Jason Pozner, MD
Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 46 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.