Practicing sun safety is important year-round. Although ultraviolet exposure is greater in the summer, UV rays are reflected by the snow and ice in winter months and also penetrate cloud cover. UV protection should therefore be worn at all times on sun-exposed body sites. Protecting your skin from UV rays may decrease risk of developing skin cancer, prevent burns, and limit sun damage. Sunscreen and protective clothing, such as hats and long-sleeve shirts, should be worn. Sunscreen should be reapplied throughout the day, particularly when swimming and sweating. It is important to limit one’s time outside during peak sunlight intensitiy hours, generally from 10AM – 2PM. Sunglasses that absorb and block UV light are also recommended to lower risk of developing various eye diseases.  Here are some tips regarding sun safety and plastic surgery:

How to Properly Apply Sunscreen

  • Do not mix your sunscreen with other moisturizers or makeup as this changes the formula of the sunscreen. It may compromise the effectiveness of the SPF (Sun Protection Factor) and its ability to form a strong protective layer on your skin. Mixing lotions, serums, or foundations with your sunscreen may reduce its efficacy.
  • It is recommended to apply facial products separately, starting with sunscreen. First allow the sunscreen to dry and create a protective barrier before applying foundation and finishing powders.
  • To speed up your daily routine, you may apply facial moisturizers or foundations that already have SPF in the formulation.
  • Sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher is recommended and should be applied 30 minutes before sun exposure to allow adequate time for absorption.

Benefits of Sunscreen

Lowers risk of developing skin cancer

  • Risk of developing nonmelanoma skin cancer (basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas) is associated with cumulative sun exposure.  History of severe sunburns, particularly in childhood and adolescence, may increase one’s risk of developing melanoma.  Patients often develop skin cancers in later life due to sun damage sustained as youth.  There are additional risk factors including family history, precancerous skin lesions, radiation and chemical exposure, etc.  Sunscreen is recommended for patients of all ages to lower one’s risk of developing skin cancer and to reduce UV exposure.

Reduces appearance of scars during early healing

  • Immature scars may become hyper- or hypopigmented with UV exposure.  Sun safety and plastic surgery may optimize aesthetic outcomes by reducing the appearance of scars over time.  Although scars initially appear pink and immature, they will generally fade to skin tone as long as protected from UV exposure as scar maturation completes over one year post-operatively.

May prevent or reverse signs of photoaging

  • Sun safety protects against and may even reverse signs of photoaging.  Wearing daily sunscreen is an effective way to protect your skin from premature wrinkles, fine lines, and sun spots caused by sun exposure.  By delaying signs of facial aging, patients may benefit from less invasive procedures or present at a later age for cosmetic enhancement.

Please contact us to schedule a consultation with Dr. Stephanie Power, female plastic surgeon, to discuss your plastic surgery concerns.


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