Q: Dr. Eppley, I am having a tummy tuck later this spring and look forward to a beach vacation this summer with my new body! My question is how soon after surgery can I begin tanning? If I have my surgery in May could I get into the ocean by July? How much time should I allow between surgery and these activities? I don’t want to do them too soon and affect my results but I know I will be anxious to do them.
A: The answer to both questions resolves around the tummy tuck scar and making sure it is healed enough to not be affected by these activities. Getting into ocean water, which will have organisms in it that do not occur in chlorinated water, should be deferred until 6 to 8 weeks after tummy tuck surgery. At this point, you should be well healed including any small areas of potential suture extrusions. The effects of tanning and sun exposure on your tummy tuck incision, however, is a much different concern. Both tanning bed and sun rays can adversely effect how the scar may eventually look so such exposure should be deferred until it is well healed for at least three months after surgery. If you must use the tanning bed, I would cover the tummy tuck scar with tape until then to block these undesired rays.
Dr. Barry Eppley