Can I Go Tanning After Cosmetic Surgery?

Dr. Neil Zemmel, our experienced plastic surgeon, is often asked this question by patients who have just undergone cosmetic surgery. Now that they’ve achieved the sculpted, aesthetically-pleasing body they desire through tummy tuck, liposuction, or another treatment, they often want to show off their new look or enhance their overall appearance by improving their tan. While Dr. Zemmel understands this point of view, he encourages patients to wait at least 2 months, if not 4 or more, before heading back to the tanning salon or laying out in the sun.

Why so long? As Dr. Zemmel explains, excessive exposure to the sun (or a tanning bulb) can cause a cosmetic surgery scar to darken. This is because the cells along the incisions remain hyperactive for months after the procedure. Their heightened sensitivity paves the way for easy hyperpigmentation. In almost all cases, exposing cosmetic surgery scars to the ultraviolet power of a tanning bed can disrupt the healing process and may cause a lasting scar appearance.

Does this mean you should also stay out of the sun? According to Dr. Zemmel, you should avoid excessive exposure to the sun as much as possible for the first few weeks – but that doesn’t mean you have to hide inside. When you inevitably do go outside and are exposed to UV light, Dr. Zemmel advises you to wear sunscreen with an SPF of 50 or higher. You can also wear an extra layer of clothing to protect your incisions.

Our dedicated surgeon is always happy to answer your questions. We encourage you to contact our office today with any concerns regarding aftercare or otherwise.