Why sun protection is important after cosmetic treatments

Written by Lela Lankerani, MD, Board Certified Dermatologist on October 12, 2015 5 Comments

avoid sun exposure

The importance of protecting the skin from dangerous UVA and UVB rays is universally understood. Besides the potential for skin cancer development, overexposure to the sun can rapidly age the skin, leading to wrinkles, sun spots, and skin dullness or dryness.

While sun protection is recommended year round for healthy skin, it is especially important after undergoing cosmetic procedures (both surgical and non-surgical treatments). Here’s a look at how the sun affects the skin, why sun protection is crucial after your procedure, and simple tips for shielding your skin from aging-initiating sun rays.

The sun and your skin

The sun emits three different wavelengths of Ultraviolet (UV) light, all of which are absorbed in the skin. In the short-run, exposure to each of these types of rays causes tanning, freckles and mole development, and sunburns. These effects are the natural response of the skin to receiving radiation.

In the long-term, UV exposure can manifest as skin cancer, hyperpigmentation or melasma (skin discoloration), blood vessel dilation, skin dullness, and wrinkle development. Overtime, UV increases the skin’s natural rate of aging; making people appear older than they really are. Given these issues it’s no wonder sun protection is one of the most important aspects of prevention.

Sun protection after cosmetic treatments

The main reason why sun protection is vital after your cosmetic treatment is many surgical and non-surgical procedures leave the skin in a damaged (and extremely vulnerable) state.

Popular non-surgical anti-aging treatments such as laser resurfacing, chemical peels, and micro-needling result in a controlled trauma of the skin. This trauma spurs the skin to heal itself, which creates the rejuvenating and enhancing results the patient is seeking. However, during this healing process the skin is extremely sensitive and is more prone to UV radiation absorption.

After cosmetic surgery procedures like facelift or neck lift surgery, any scarring is extremely prone to becoming sunburned. If the incision area is exposed to the sun post procedure there is a good chance the scar will become darker and permanently more noticeable.

The last thing any patient wants after undergoing a cosmetic treatment is to be left with brown discoloration, wrinkles, dullness, or dark scarring. So it is very important to practice sun protection after your procedure.

Sun protection tips

Taking care of your skin after your cosmetic procedure is not hard. Follow these common sense sun protection rules:

  • Always wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher)
  • Avoid peak sun hours, typically 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
  • Wear a large wide-brimmed hat and sun protection clothing after your procedure
  • Be aware that even sitting near windows in your car or home can expose your skin to UV rays


Lela Lankerani, MD

Lela Lankerani D.O. received her undergraduate degree in Biology at Washington University where she graduated cum laude. Dr. Lankerani has published articles in several scientific journals and has presented at national scholarly meetings including the American Academy of Dermatology and American Osteopathic Academy of Dermatology.

5 Responses to “Why sun protection is important after cosmetic treatments”

  1. Avatar Sandy says:

    This definitely is important when you are worried about the sun damaging your skin. My wife constantly wants to make sure she is covered so her skin doesn’t wirnkle or anything when she spends too much time outside. I’ll have to send this over to her and maybe she can relate to it.

  2. Avatar Meagan says:

    Amazing tips and information on the subject matter. If I invested in something, I want to make sure I am taking care of it. Plastic surgery is an investment and should be treated the same way! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Avatar Jorge says:

    My wife is undergoing some cosmetic treatments for some questionable skin spots that our doctor found. Well, luckily everything is coming back normal, but we are wanting to be extra cautious from here on out and make sure that we both protect our skin better. This has some great points on what to do and I hope that we can figure this out and do better.

  4. Avatar Andy says:

    Extremely important, but hard to do in summer lol

  5. Avatar Lauren says:

    Great explanation for patients, thanks for pointing this out to me.

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