Why Patients Must Avoid Sun Exposure after Facial Cosmetic Surgery
- Posted on: Mar 30 2020
People who undergo facial plastic surgery of any kind can expect to receive detailed post-operative instructions. These guidelines help them care for their incisions and manage side effects like swelling and bruising. Of the various instructions that are given, the recommendation to avoid the sun doesn’t often come with further explanation. We’ll discuss that here.
Sun Exposure can Worsen Post-Op Swelling
Patients who undergo facial plastic surgery can expect some degree of swelling and bruising to occur in the days after their procedure. While these side effects are at their peak, at 2 to 3 days post-op, it is necessary to limit sun exposure. Until tissue has completely healed, patients are encouraged to go outdoors only with broad-spectrum sunscreen. On bright days, a wide-brimmed hat should be worn, as well.
Sun Exposure Can Affect Scarring
Incisions cause scars, there is no way around that. The question is how noticeable scars will be. The better care that incisions receive during recovery, the more they can be expected to fade. Exposing scars to sunlight, especially when they are in the early stages of healing, can cause them to darken rather than lighten.
Sun Exposure Can Lead to Skin Discoloration
Most people recognize that exposure to sunlight causes them to tan. As much as we have learned to appreciate a “healthy glow,” there is nothing beneficial about having tanned skin. The mere presence of tanned skin means that cellular damage has occurred. After facial cosmetic surgery, the skin is especially vulnerable to photodamage and discoloration in the form of sunspots.
Sun Exposure Ages the Skin, Negating Benefits of Surgery
People undergo facial procedures because they want to look as young as they feel. It is no secret that sun exposure is one of the leading causes of dermatologic aging. This is because UV light breaks down the collagen that supports firm, supple skin. After age 30, the body makes very little collagen, so we must protect what we have. Plastic surgery can turn back the hands of time quite dramatically. Why negate the beneficial improvements by aging the skin with sunlight?
We do not expect any of our local Southern California patients to avoid sun exposure for the rest of their lives. As a general rule, patients should keep in mind the value of wearing broad-spectrum sunscreen every day, wearing thicker sunblock on long days outdoors, limiting their time in the sun, and making sunglasses and hats their go-to accessories.
Posted in: Plastic Surgery