Should I Limit My Sun Exposure After a Facelift?

Avoiding direct sun exposure should always be one of your top priorities. UV damage is cumulative, so even small doses of ultraviolet radiation can be harmful to the health of your skin. Over time, ultraviolet radiation breaks down collagen, making your skin weaker and more prone to sagging and wrinkling. Sun exposure is also a leading cause of skin cancer. Even if you seldom burn, the sun can take a heavy toll on your health and appearance, especially if you’re fair-skinned. 

After you have any type of facial procedure, such as facelift surgery, sun protection becomes even more important. UV radiation is one of the most common causes of visible scarring after a facelift. Sun damage causes scars to become thicker and darker, and in some cases, these darkened scars don’t fade away over time. Irritation from sun exposure also makes swelling and discomfort more pronounced. If you’re considering having a facelift, you should absolutely make increased sun protection part of your recovery plan. 

5 Ways to Protect Your Face from Sun Exposure after a Facelift

  1. Invest in medical-grade sunscreen (and apply it frequently).

Drugstore-brand sunscreens aren’t always reliable. In fact, research indicates that over 40% of consumer sunscreens don’t live up to their stated SPF value. For more complete and reliable protection, ask your plastic surgeon about using a medical-grade sunscreen instead. Medical-grade sunscreens are tested to ensure effectiveness and they often last longer and offer better moisture resistance than consumer brands.

  1. Wear a broad-brimmed hat.

No sunscreen can protect against 100% of the sun’s rays, even if some high-SPF brands come close. We therefore recommend wearing a broad-brimmed hat for extra protection whenever possible. 

  1. Protect your incisions until they’re no longer pink.

Though incisions close quickly (generally within one to two weeks), the tissues that support the epidermis take a long time to fully heal. Your incisions will be vulnerable to darkening for the entire duration of the healing process, which can last for three to six months. Keep your incisions fully protected until your scars begin to fade to white. 

  1. Take extra care of your incisions even when it’s cloudy or raining.

Though less UV radiation is present on cloudy and rainy days, UV rays that penetrate the clouds can still cause skin damage. Always apply sunscreen and try to wear a hat (or use an umbrella), regardless of what the weather is like. This rule also applies during the winter months.

  1. Try to schedule your facelift during the fall or winter.

If you live in the northern hemisphere, having surgery during the winter months can make sun protection simpler. Days are shorter during the winter, so it’s easier to do errands after the sun has set. Likewise, you can use hats and scarves for added sun protection.

Even after you’ve healed completely from facelift surgery, you should apply sunscreen regularly and wear a hat when possible. Using standard precautions whenever you go outdoors will safeguard the results of your procedure by protecting collagen stores and slowing down the process of photoaging. With proper care, the results of a facelift can remain visible for up to 15 years.

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