Following any plastic surgery procedure, a surgeon will likely advise you to avoid exposure to high heat and sunlight. Avoiding sunlight can play a large role in minimizing the appearance of scars or bruising, which is why Dallas plastic surgeon Dr. Michael Whetstone recommends minimal sun or heat exposure following plastic surgery.
Reasons To Avoid Sunlight After Plastic Surgery
Limiting sun exposure is a crucial step for obtaining the best possible results from any plastic surgery procedure. Avoiding the sun after a facial surgery procedure such as face lift, brow lift, neck lift, or blepharoplasty, is especially important. Excessive sunlight, especially in the first few days following plastic surgery, can cause:
- Swelling and Inflammation: Exposure to any form of heat, particularly the sun, can increase your chances of swelling and inflammation. Most often, post-operative care for a plastic surgery procedure will call for the opposite of heat and recommend application of a cold compress or ice to the surgical site.
- Scarring: Sun exposure to a surgical incision or healing wound can increase hyper-pigmentation of the scar resulting in a darkened, more visible scar.
- Sunburn: Patients are more susceptible to sunburn in the first few weeks after undergoing a plastic surgery procedure. If a surgical scar becomes sunburned it is highly likely that it will become permanently discolored.
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How Long Should You Avoid Sunlight After Plastic Surgery?
It is extremely important is to limit your exposure to the sun as much as possible following plastic surgery, especially exposure to the surgical site. For the best results possible, patients should aim for minimal sun exposure to incision scars for approximately one year after surgery. Immediately following surgery, however, patients are often recommended to completely avoid sun exposure for varying lengths of time depending on the procedure. Typically, at least one week is suggested, with limited exposure for two weeks after that.
Protecting Yourself From Sun Exposure After Plastic Surgery
Avoiding sunlight altogether is not a plausible option for extended lengths of time, but you can reduce the amount of exposure you receive by taking the necessary steps to protect your skin. Dr. Whetstone recommends the following tips to help you reduce your skin’s exposure to sunlight and consequently improving the results of your plastic surgery procedure:
- Use Sunscreen: If you will be out in the sun for any length of time, make sure to apply sunscreen of at least SPF 30. If your surgical site is openly exposed to the sun, for example if you have undergone facial surgery, sunscreen is even more important. You must however insure that your incision has completely healed before sunscreen can be applied to that specific area in order to avoid infection. UV rays can filter through clothing and even through home windows, which only reinforces the need for the critical protection sunscreen can provide.
- Wear Adequate Clothing: Although sunlight is able to pass through clothing, it still provides a crucial layer of protection. For patients healing from procedures such as breast augmentation or a tummy tuck, it is extremely important to make sure that the incision site is always covered with clothing. It is also recommended to wear clothing made of thicker material rather than thin or lightweight materials.
- Wear Hats Or Visors: Patients recovering from facial surgery procedures such as a face lift or blepharoplasty should be intentional about wearing the proper head coverings. Wearing a hat or a visor with a solid brim can provide critical protection to an incision scar on the face.
Protecting your skin and incision is most easily accomplished by limiting the time you spend outdoors and in the sun; doing so will drastically improve results from any plastic surgery procedure.
For more information about the effects of sun exposure after plastic surgery, contact Las Colinas Centre For Plastic Surgery today.