Sun Exposure After Plastic Surgery


Relaxing in the sun may sound like the perfect way to pass the time while recovering from plastic surgery, especially with summer in season. And for many of us, summers are made for sporting the perfect summer glow. But before you step out for that sun-kissed look, please reconsider the sun’s negative side effects.

After you have had plastic surgery, or a cosmetic procedure, your doctor will likely caution you to avoid sun exposure as part of post-operative care and recovery.

Follow your doctor’s advice and minimize the risk of surgical scars and bruises.

These guidelines can help you plan for the months following your procedure this summer.

Why Should You Avoid Sunlight?

Post-operative care 101 instructs to minimize sun exposure after any plastic surgery or cosmetic procedure, especially if it was a facial procedure. Exposing surgical incisions to sunlight after surgery can worsen the appearance of side effects such as swelling, inflammation, scars and bruises – causing them to take longer to heal.

Any exposure to heat sources, especially the sun, can cause more swelling and inflammation. Sun exposure can easily change the pigmentation of the skin and darken the scars. Sun exposure within the first few weeks after surgery also can increase the likelihood of sunburn, which can cause scars to remain permanently discolored.

If a chemical peel, laser resurfacing, dermabrasion or blepharoplasty was performed, premature sun exposure could lead to spotty or abnormal pigmentation. If you’ve had a facial procedure, sunscreen and a hat should be worn whenever you’re out in the sun. Choose a hat with a solid, all-around brim that is at least three inches wide. Avoid straw hats, as it still allows the sun to filter through.

If a rhinoplasty or facelift was performed, avoid prolonged sun exposure and tanning. Exposing a healing incision to the UV rays can result in hyper-pigmentation and darkening of the skin, which can take months to fade.

How Can You Protect Your Skin from the Sun?

Within the first several months after surgery, avoid sun exposure. If you must go out in the sun, be sure to use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 on and around your incision area, even if clothing covers the incision. Sunlight can still filter through clothing and windows, so you should wear sunscreen throughout the day as a precaution.

Additionally, be sure to wait until your incision has completely healed before applying sunscreen to avoid infection.

When outdoors, consider wearing clothing made of thicker material and avoid lightweight clothing like bathing suits or thin apparel, which can leave your incision area exposed to sunlight.

Be sure to read the sunscreen’s label, and remember to apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before you go in the sun; reapply 2 hours after you have been exposed to the sun, and reapply again after any aquatic activity.

Continue to Protect Your Skin from Sunlight

After your incision and surgical scars have faded, it is still invaluable and important to limit sun exposure. Prolonged sun exposure can age the skin, causing wrinkles, facial depressions and brown spots, thus reversing the results of the procedure.

More importantly, too much sun exposure can lead to skin cancer. Sunscreen application with an SPF of at last 15 should be a part of your daily routine. If you have sensitive skin or acne-prone skin, consider moisturizers with an SPF. Alternatively, choose a makeup base with an SPF to protect your face from sunlight.

Schedule a Consultation

Remember to always protect and take care of your skin after surgical operations, and thereafter. And, if sun exposure is necessary, follow these guidelines to help you plan for the months following your procedure this summer. Shade yourself in between 11am and 3pm, and always moisturize your skin before and after to lock in hydration.

If you are considering plastic surgery, understanding the scope of post-operative care and recovery is as important as the procedure itself. To understand your options holistically, schedule a consultation with Dr. Binder today, and join our many satisfied patients. We will discuss and review your treatment options in order to find the perfect fit for you and your desired results.

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