Sunning, Tanning Booths, & Surgery
The information in this section is made available through the generous support of Dr. Grant Stevens.
While having a golden tan is lovely to look at - it damages the skin. Tanning is a personal choice, but it's important to know the results of doing so in conjunction with your surgery.
No one ever healed skin cancer by getting a tan. If tanning improved our skin there would be no need for sunscreens and all the media messages we hear daily about skin cancer .
Stay out of the sun before your surgery
You want your skin to be in good shape so that you can have the best chances for healing. Suntanned skin does not promote well-healed incisions.
Stay out of the sun after your surgery
Sun on your new incisions will turn them permanently red. This is not our opinion - it's a fact. Incisions need to stay out of the sun for about a year, and longer if they have not turned to your natural skin color. Once you sun them and turn them red, there is no going back. Only excising them and starting over will get rid of red, sun damaged incision lines.
If you will be in the sun post-operatively (we realize we all have lives and vacations happen), please make sure your suit covers your incisions completely. Depending on how far post-op you are, you should ask your plastic surgeon if you can put sunscreen on your incisions. Sunscreens are chemicals, and it may not be a good idea to put this on your incisions if you are newly post-op, so ask your plastic surgeon. Of course, exposing them to sun would be worse, so do ask your plastic surgeon as he or she might also be able recommend the brand of suntan lotion or cream they'd like you to use. Some people have even put surgical adhesive tape over their incisions. This might be a good alternative to the chemical aspects of sunscreen - provided the tape stays on and doesn't aggravate your incisions. Some people use a sunscreen, tape, a suit and a cover up. Again, ask your plastic surgeon. Due to the ability to literally fry your skin, suntan oil of any type would be a very bad idea at this time.
Sunlight does penetrate our bathing suits, however, so try to limit your time in the sun and cover up early. And while we're at it, pool chlorine isn't a good thing either - it's a chemical. Limit your exposure and rinse your body off after swimming as soon as possible.
The chemicals in spray tanning are now being found to not be so safe, either. Do your homework and learn about these products that aren't even FDA approved to be sprayed into the air and breathed. Protect your health.