The Truth About Plastic Surgery and the Sun

Summary: Plastic surgery and the sun seem like they should be best friends. Certainly one of the reasons we might undergo plastic surgery is to be able to sunbathe with confidence. But it turns out that these two little objects–plastic surgery and the sun–don’t always play together as nicely as we might otherwise think.

Getting the Truth About Plastic Surgery and the Sun

We’re used to thinking of the sun as our friend. When the sun is out, it’s nice. When the sun is behind the clouds, it’s chilly. In fact, the very definition of a “nice day” has something to do with sunlight. So you might naturally assume that plastic surgery and the sun go hand in hand, like some kind of peanut butter and jelly sandwich of aesthetic beauty.

But it turns out that, if you’ve had plastic surgery, the sun may not be your friend. Indeed, if you’re talking about human skin at all, the sun might be something you’d want to avoid.

That’s because, it turns out, the sun is not exactly our friend. The sun is constantly emitting what are known as UV rays, and when your skin absorbs those UV rays, you can be left with significant damage. Depending on what plastic surgery or cosmetic procedure you’ve undergone, your skin can be quite sensitive. So it’s a good idea to know how you should handle being out in the sun.

Of course, we’ll point out that you should always speak to your surgeon about matters of your recovery. This article is not meant as a substitute for medical advice–it’s meant for entertainment and maybe to get a conversation started!

Why Does the Sun Hurt Your Skin?

The sun emits energy–a mind boggling amount of energy. And only a small percentage of that energy ever reaches earth. Just because we can’t see that energy doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Indeed, our eyes are only attuned to a small bandwidth of light. Part of the light that we don’t see is called Ultraviolet. And Ultraviolet energy (or UV) can cause significant damage to your skin.

There’s something about UV rays, or radiation, that interacts with the genetic structure in your skin. Sure, it causes sunburn (and sunburn is bad enough). But in the long term, UV rays can cause significant damage, leading to the development of skin cancer.

As the most exposed part of our bodies, skin is pretty good at interacting with the sun–but only up to a point. Even if you haven’t had surgery, you should be pretty conscious about how much sun exposure you get. If you’ve had a facelift in Newport Beach, CA, for example, you should be even more mindful.

Following Your Recovery Instructions

You should discuss sun exposure with your surgeon during your consultation, especially if you undergo your procedure during the summer months or in a location that happens to be pretty sunny (looking at you again, California).

Different procedures will require different levels of care.

  • When it comes to plastic surgery procedures you’ll generally be concerned with keeping your incisions out of the sun. That’s because exposure to too much sunlight during your recovery can actually change the color of the incisions, making any scarring that develops more prominent. (There’s something to be said, too, for not sweating when your body is already swelling.)
  • When you’ve had cosmetic procedures such as laser resurfacing or microneedling, staying out of the sun is about protecting your skin and protecting your results. A laser resurfacing procedure will often expose a more youthful layer of skin–and that layer of skin needs to be protected. Otherwise, it can quickly develop damage in the form of spots, lines and wrinkles–all the stuff you went in and got the cosmetic procedure for in the first place.

In either case, it’s important that patients follow closely the recovery instructions that have been given to them by surgeons. Those recovery instructions are designed specifically both to safeguard your health and ensure your results. So even though instructions about sunlight exposure might seem a little bit odd–at least now you know they’re included for a reason.

The Sun is Your Friend, Until it Isn’t

Suffice it to say, we should know by now that the sun can be great–but it’s not always the best thing for you and for your recovery. Plastic surgery and the sun don’t always play nice together. So be sure that you’re checking in with your cosmetic surgeon or plastic surgeon about what you should do–and how much sun exposure you should get–after your procedure.

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