Tanning After a Tummy Tuck?

I am one month post tummy tuck and am interested in tanning. If I use sunscreen and cover the scars, will the scars be okay?

Doctor Answers 11

Would not recommend it

On the first months up to 8 months it is best that you avoid the sun altogether, less you tan the surgicla scar and then it stays dark forever, that area is more suseptible to tan and sun burns and could cause some complications if not careful .

Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 1,094 reviews

Tanning after a tummy tuck?

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. 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 26 reviews

Tanning after Tummy tuck

All scars have a tendency to become darker if they are exposed to UV light if it occurs while healing. Applying sunscreen over the scar is not 100% effective and will give you a band of pale skin in a darker and tanned body making the scar even more noticeable.

The question is for how long? Rather that giving an arbitrary time framework, I go with biology. As long as the scar is healing and therefore red or pink it is sensitive to UV light so it needs to be protected.

M. Vincent Makhlouf, MD, FACS
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Tanning after cosmetic surgery

Tanning, particularly in a tanning bed, can result in a more noticeable scar. Often scars will become dark (hyperpigmented) and this may persist for some time. We often forget that tanning involves ultraviolet radiation and this can effect all areas of our skin but especially healing wounds. The heat associated with tanning can also burn skin of the abdomen after tummy tuck due to changes in blood supply that results with elevating the tummy skin.

My recommendation to my patients is to avoid tanning scars for 4-6 months. Completely covering scars with high SPF clothing is fine, as long as it is not black (which becomes hot in the sun.)

Douglas Leppink, MD
Grand Rapids Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Tanning after tummy tuck

I would not recommend any tanning on fresh scars.  This could affect your result.  You will not totally protect the area with sunscreen.   Donald R. Nunn MD  Atlanta Plastic Surgeon.

Donald Nunn, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 47 reviews

Tanning after tummy tuck

After surgery, the skin is sensitive and more likely to burn. Remember that you can burn through a swimsuit or clothing. Sunscreen must be reapplied frequently. No one can guarantee the outcome of scarring AA many patients do not realize the degree to which they have exposed themselves to the effects of the sun. I would recommend that you try a topical tanning solution and to avoid the sun this summer.

Robert L. Kraft, MD, FACS
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

Tanning After Tummy Tuck Surgery

If you were my patient I would advise you in no way, shape or form should you be tanning your incisions for the first year. Scars are susceptible to darkening when they are fresh. The goal should be for the scar to fade as much to skin tone as possible. Even with applying sunscreen, I think it's not a good idea. 

Jeffrey Hartog, MD
Orlando Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 60 reviews

Tan after tummy tuck at your own risk

Scar after tummy tummy tuck is active and likely to hyperpigment for six to twelve months after tummy tuck. There is no such thing as a safe tan, and sun screens can only prolong the exposure time needed for the sun to have its effect on your skin. If you can stay out of the sun and play it safe until next summer.

Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

No tanning immediately after surgery

Dear Jessbru,

I tell all my patients no tanning for 6 months !

tanning is bad anyway, and can make your scars permanently darker than your skin tone. On top of being bad for the rest of your skin with premature aging ( remember the NJ tanning Mom ? ), brown spots, skin cancers etc...

If you like the tan look, there are always those fake tan sprays or moisturizers with pigments from any local pharmacies.

Plastic Surgery is to make you look nice !

F. Mussat, MD

Florence Mussat, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Sun after surgery

I would recommend staying out of the sun or a tanning bed for a another couple of weeks.  The cells along the incision that give your skin pigment are hyperactive right now and sun exposure will cause the scars to come in dark.  If you do go out in the sun always make your incision is covered with a 50spf sunscreen as well as a layer of fabric, either from a bathing suit or shirt. I hope this helps you.

Kindest regards,

Neil J. Zemmel

Neil J. Zemmel, MD, FACS
Richmond Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 106 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.