Sun Exposure after Surgery: Here’s What You Need To Know

Summer is quickly approaching, and if you are considering plastic surgery in these months then relaxing in the sun may sound like a good way to pass the time while recovering!

After surgery, you will find that there are many post-op instructions to follow and, at Synergy Plastic Surgery, our board-certified surgeons recommend limited sun exposure. After surgery, there are many post-op instructions to follow, one of them being avoid exposure to sunlight. It may be commonly known that sun exposure is not recommended when healing from a surgical procedure, but the reason why is seldom discussed. Here we will explain the potential negative impact the sun could have on your surgical results!


Collagen is a protein that plays an essential protective role in the human body. It occurs throughout the body, it is abundant in the skin, and plays an important role in all phases of wound healing! Collagen is undoubtedly essential to healing from scars after surgery, but did you know that UV light breaks down the collagen that supports firm, supple skin? It does this by penetrating the middle layer of skin, causing the abnormal buildup of elastin.

Post-Op Swelling

Patients who undergo plastic surgery can expect some degree of swelling and bruising to occur in the days after their procedure. These side effects are at their peak around 2 to 3 days after surgery therefore it is crucial to limit exposure to the sun! Inflammation or trauma to the skin at this time can trigger an increased production of pigment in the skin, leading to darker scars.


Fresh scars, that can be described as still pink and healing, are highly vulnerable to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun and can easily burn. This is because the tissue is still actively repairing itself and healing. At this stage in your healing process, multiple inflammatory mediators (chemical messengers) are released in the skin, which can stimulate the activity of pigment-producing cells called melanocytes. If you add sun or UV exposure into the mix, you may end up with post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation (lightening of the skin).

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation can lead to darker, more prominent scarring that can last months to years. It is also important to note that people with darker skins are more prone to discoloration caused by post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

Did you know that nearly half of UV radiation is received between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.? That is when the sun’s rays are the strongest however, you can still even be sunburned by UV radiation on a cloudy day.

For these reasons, it is imperative to that post-op patients avoid exposure to direct and indirect sunlight for at least 2 to 4 weeks after surgery, or as recommended by your doctor. If being outdoors is inevitable during this time, it is recommended that you take precautionary measures such as wearing clothing or a wide brimmed hat to cover the healing scars, sitting in a shady, well covered area, and protecting your scars once they’ve healed with sunscreen and skincare. Check out our SynergySkin line and learn how to best care for your skin here!

If you would like more information on scarring and skin care, or are interested in learning more about your cosmetic surgery options in Austin, please contact us online, or give our practice a call at (512) 244-144 (our Round Rock location).

Leave a Reply

Fields marked with * are required.