Exposure to heat and the sun after plastic surgery can worsen certain side effects after plastic surgery. For this reason, Dallas plastic surgeon Mark Deuber recommends that patients avoid excessive exposure to the sun or any other type of heat source after plastic surgery. Limiting sun exposure can reduce the severity of swelling and scarring after plastic surgery. In this blog post, patients can learn how exposure to sun or heat can worsen post-surgical side effects, and read tips on how to reduce sun exposure after plastic surgery.

Worsened Side Effects

It is crucial that patients avoid sun and heat exposure, especially in the first few days after plastic surgery. To obtain the best possible results, patients should minimize sun exposure to surgical scars for at least one year after surgery.

  • Swelling: Application or exposure to a heat source, such as a heat pad, running computer, or the sun, is known to increase inflammation, especially in the first few days after plastic surgery. In fact, in most cases, Dr. Deuber recommends that a cold or ice compress be periodically applied the surgical site for 48 to 72 hours after surgery to reduce swelling. In addition, patients should completely avoid sun exposure for at least the first week after surgery, and limit sun exposure for at least two weeks.
  • Scars: Any time a patient has a healing wound, whether from a surgical incision or injury, keeping it out of the sun will minimize any hyperpigmentation or post-surgical scarring that occurs. Exposure to the sun while the wound is healing will cause the scar to darken. In fact, patients should keep the incision and resulting scar out of the sun for at least one year.

How to Reduce Sun Exposure after Plastic Surgery

Obviously, the best way to reduce sun exposure after plastic surgery is to avoid going out in the sun. While most patients are able to achieve this goal during the first week of recovery, it can become increasingly difficult to stay out of the sun in the weeks and months after plastic surgery. When you are outside, Dr. Deuber recommends that you follow these tips to prevent harmful UV rays from affecting the final appearance of the healing incision.

  • Keep the incision site covered with clothing: If the scar is located on the breasts or body, as it is after breast augmentation or tummy tuck surgery, be sure to keep that area of the body covered with clothing when out in the sun.
  • Wear hats or visors: If the scar is located on the face, as is the case after facelift or rhinoplasty surgery, wear a hat or visor when out in the sun to limit exposure to the scar.
  • Use sunscreen: Even when a hat or light clothing is helping to minimize sun exposure, the sun’s rays can still penetrate through to the skin. That is why it is a good idea to also apply sunscreen to the scar, daily, to prevent the scar from darkening. Use SPF 30 or higher on the scar. Of course, it is important to note that sunscreen should only be applied after the incision has closed. Applying sunscreen to an open wound will increase a patient’s chance of developing an infection.

Contact the Dallas practice of Dr. Deuber to schedule a consultation with us.