Does a Suntan Help Hide Scars? Tanning Guidelines After Breast Surgery


Tanning and Spray Tanning Recommendations and Warnings: Sun Exposure and Breast Surgery Scars

If your breast augmentation or breast lift surgery goes to plan this Spring, you may feel amazing after your initial recovery. You’ll want to hit the beach or pool-side chairs for a bit of warmth and relaxation. But is tanning too soon after surgery a good idea? And is any form of tanning really a good idea, after all? If you are wondering if tanning will help hide your scars – or heal them – read on to find out the real story about why you need to WAIT before you exposure surgery scars to sunlight or spray tanning chemicals.

Does tanning help hide scars? Does sun exposure aid your healing?

No, UVA and UVB exposure from sun tanning can actually make scars look worse. Sun exposure on fresh surgery scars is NOT recommended and can make them appear more visible as well as impede the healing processes of the dermal layers.


Tanning Guidelines and Time Frames after Breast Augmentation Surgery – FAQs

After recovering from breast augmentation surgery in particular, you may feel your new curves look wonderful and want to share your results with the world by heading to the beach. The summer sun may finally be lancing the blue waters of Australia’s coastlines again and your pool-side recliners are calling to you after the emotional surgical experiences of your last few weeks. You figure you’ve earned some time under the sun’s warm rays, especially as you’re potentially still a bit sore. That noted, your incisions are healing and moving has become easier again. Even the gym beckons. But your Surgeon warns you that you’re not quite ready for a session on the elliptical trainers yet. But the beach? The pool? Or Bali? You can do this, you tell yourself. But should you?

Is tanning too soon after breast augmentation really a good idea? Or is getting sun exposure and tanning harmful to your incision lines and scar formation? Originally Published in Feb 2014 and revised/updated in October 2018.

Tanning after Breast Augmentation: When is it safe to get sun exposure on your breast incisions?

There is a lot of data that suggests excess sun exposure causes all kinds of havoc to the body’s cells. It can prematurely age your skin, lead to hyper-pigmentation problems and mottled-looking skin, pre-dispose you to Melasma and increase your Melanoma risks. That noted, Australia is an outdoorsy, coastal-focused country, with much time in the sun.

If you’re going to tan, just be serious about limiting exposure, following the time frame guidelines and wearing sun protection.

Consider the alternatives too, like using mineral bronzer makeup.

how soon can I tan my skin after having breast surgery such as a breast augmentation or breast lift or reduction?

Wait until your scars are fully mature BEFORE you hit the beach for tanning sessions. Otherwise, your incision lines can look worse.

People mistakenly think that tanning will help disguise their post-breast augmentation surgery scars. But tanning after surgery can actually make them appear more visible – initially and over the longer term.

  • Catching a few rays may seem initially harmless (aside from the variety of skin maladies resulting from over exposure, including an aged-looking decolletage), but you WILL want to HOLD OFF on plonking yourself down on a striped towel and smoothing those newly acquired curves with tanning oil.
  • Sun exposure on newly healing incision lines – such as your breast augmentation or breast reduction scars – is definitely a NO NO.

Why are sun exposure and spray tanning NOT RECOMMENDED after breast augmentation?

  • Sun exposure is damaging to incision line healing because it changes the skin’s responses.
  • UVA & UVB rays change the dermal tissues forming around your incision area – but not in a positive way.


Sun-baking too soon after surgery means it’s before your skin is ready to bear the brunt of those brutal UV rays, which will tend to darken or worsen your scars in terms of textural and colour differences.

  • Remember, your skin is trying to repair itself after breast implant-incisions are made under the breasts (or in the armpit area for transaxillary procedures).
  • Sun exposure changes the process of how your skin responds.
  • Tanning and sun exposure too soon after breast augmentation can lead to permanent hyper-pigmentation, potentially larger scars and – ultimately – far more visible scarring than if you let those incision lines heal away from sun exposure.
  • Plus, some tanning oils and chemical sun block may contain fragrances, bacteria and other ingredients that you shouldn’t be using on fresh incision lines – ask your Specialist Plastic Surgeon for recommendations.

Tempting as it might be over summer, be sure you keep your new breast augmentation surgery results AWAY from sun exposure until your scars have fully settled.

It’s best to keep your newly operated-on breast skin OUT of dangerous sun exposure and away from damaging UV rays for at least a year.


Recap of why sun exposure is NOT A GREAT idea AFTER having breast augmentation or a breast reduction:

  • Your breasts, your body and your incision lines NEED to heal.
  • Excess sweating, chlorine, sauna bacteria, chemicals, oils and damaging sun rays are NOT going to help you heal – they may also delay your recovery process or harm your dermal recovery and scar formation.
  • Remember, you’ve just gone a round with a surgery table and your breasts came out the other side, either larger, smaller, higher, perkier or more symmetrical (depending on which surgery you had).
  • They’ve been adjusted and you have incision lines and breast tissues that require adequate rest and gentle recovery time – not harsh heat and intensely damaging sun light.
  • You and your new breasts are better off getting essential rest in comfort and kind seclusion – AWAY from the sun’s burning UVA/UVB rays – and away from damaging lotions and potions commonly used at the beach, pool or sauna.

So if sun exposure isn’t recommended after Breast Augmentation, what about Spray Tanning?


  • Spray tanning has come a long way from the Oompa Loompa orange coat of yesteryear.
  • Colours now range from Brazilian Beauty to Barely There Bronze, with so many options available you may not even recognise your natural skin tone.

In fact, most of us walking down the street with a bit of colour to our faces, legs and arms in winter, have likely had a regular spray-tanning appointment at our local beauty therapist, chemist warehouse or spray-tanning salon.

BUT read spray tanning recommendations or guidelines after breast augmentation – and why it’s not necessarily a good idea.

Spray Tanning Guidelines after Breast Surgery

Cream or Liquid Tanning Solutions – are they okay to use on scars after Breast Surgery?

  • Step inside your local Chemist Warehouse or Priceline shop and peruse the beauty and skin care aisles.
  • While a regular skin routine will certainly improve your resilience and overall health, these days, it can also give a decent tan or tinted coverage.
  • Many moisturiser products now include tinted coverage options and/or skin-tanning compounds to gradually darken the pigment of your skin (temporarily).
  • These creams can grant you some control of how far you want to go with your seasonal chameleon shtick or tanning products.
  • They may not have adequate safety data on some self-tanning creams and lotions; these likely contain some chemicals you might want to explore and research well before deciding whether or not to use them.


But not all of these tanning solutions will be recommended for your breast surgery scars.

  • It’s best to avoid using chemicals and other tanning solutions on the areas that have been sutured after breast augmentation.
  • Ask your Dermal Clinician for a recommendation of a natural mineral-based skin-tinting product or a tinted sun screen that is more physical in nature than a chemical block.
  • DO ask your SURGEON for suggestions, and DO wait at least 8 and ideally up to 12 weeks or longer before using any potions or lotions – and do NOT use these products on your skin if your dermal area (skin incision lie) is still healing or maturing.
  • Read up on the suspected dangers of ingredients and products frequently used in spray tanning or self-tanning.

Bronzer Makeup for your Decolletage for Cleavage Enhancement after Breast Augmentation

  • One of today’s makeup essentials, bronzing powder or skin bronzing creams are an entry level alternative for adding some colour and oomph to your face and neck instead of tanning.
  • But now that you have upper-body cleavage and uplifted breast curves, you may find you’re wanting to enhance that upper pole fullness cleavage with a bit of bronzing sculpting.

Here are our suggestions, but as always, ask your Surgeon for specifics.

  • Remember, always follow your Surgeon’s advice.
  • Recognise that results can vary.
  • Understand that information or guidelines on our web pages is general in nature – it may also become superseded.
  • This information is NOT medical advice and should never be substituted for direct advice from your personal medical and surgical team.
  • Further reading and research into these issues is always recommended. You can phone us on (03) 8849 1444 and ask for helpful Guides or resources if you want more surgery recovery information.


Bronzing makeup for the face, decolletage and breast area after Breast Augmentation

  • If the makeup is high quality and kept sterile (we recommend a fresh, high-quality mineral bronzer AND a fresh new sterile brush that you cleanse and sterlise well on a regular basis), then you may dab a bit of bronzer around your cleavage to emphasise your new curves.
  • AVOID the breast crease (IMF) and/or armpit area (transaxillary scar).


Treat the surgical areas exactly as your Doctor or Surgeon recommended. It’s also a good idea to check with your medical/surgical team before making assumptions a certain product, medicine or activity is okay AS YOU RECOVER from your breast procedure.

  • We know it’s hard to WAIT to get back into the sun or onto the beach AFTER having a breast lift, Augmentation or Reduction.
  • Especially when you’re feeling revitalised and confident about your new curves or when summer is approaching.
  • But be patient and explore your options.

Soon, the beach will be yours again, but DO wear sun protection.

In the meantime, protect those scars. You may carefully fake it with self-tanning but understand the risks. Avoid incision lines, wait the required time period that your Surgeon recommends, and keep those incision lines clean, dry and protected – as well as OUT OF THE SUN – for at least 12 months or longer – until they mature.

And remember, sun will age you prematurely! So limit your exposure and avoid the most intense sun-exposure hours in Australian summers.

Want more information on Recovery after Breast Augmentation?

Visit our Downloadable Guides pages for more on Breast Surgery scars, recovery and healing tips.

For more information about Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery options and research in Australia.

cosmetic surgery for women and men Downloadable guides Female Plastic Surgeon Melbourne

Download our free guides or phone (03) 8849 1444 today – and ask for a no-obligation consultation.

Last updated: 08/05/2019
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Dr Craig Rubinstein - MBBS, FRACS (Plast)
Dr Craig Rubinstein MBBS, FRACS (Plast), a Specialist Plastic Surgeon, is one of Australia's most respected Melbourne Surgeons for Breast Augmentation, Breast Lift (Mastopexy), Breast Reduction surgery and Abdominoplasty procedures. Using advanced surgical techniques to gain better body contouring and natural-looking surgical results, Dr Rubinstein is highly regarded by peers and patients for best-practice Clinic Patient-care and patient education strategies. He published a chapter on corrective surgery for Breast Asymmetry. Qualifications/Training Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS) The Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) The Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) The Australian Medical Association (AMA) American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) The International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ISAPS) Founder: Cosmetic Surgery for Women and Men - Plastic Surgeons Group Bio Page: