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Regarding facial laser surgery, if you use a high sunscreen and completely cover your face, is it ok to tan in a tanning bed?

Q:

How long after facial laser surgery do you have to wait to use a tanning bed to get sun on the rest of your body?  If you use a high sunscreen and cover your face completely, is this acceptable and safe? 

A:

There is no sunscreen that can totally block all harmful rays. Therefore it is not recommended to use a tanning bed especially after laser skin resurfacing.  I hope that was discussed with you prior to surgery.  Exposure will cause major pigmentation problems that are not easy to treat.

A:

Tanning occurs because the UV rays in the sun light, or tanning booth lights, cause skin inflammation that stimulates your body to produce more melanin (brown pigment) as a protective response. 

After LASER skin resurfacing particularly for two months or more, your skin is even more sensitive to UV exposure and to pigmentation problems.

Sun tan lotions, even of the highest SPF, are meant to reduce the harmful effects of the UV rays, but can't totally prevent them.

The likely reason that you had LASER resurfacing in the first place was to treat the damage to your skin caused by tanning.

Therefore, I advise against intentionally exposing your skin to tanning as it will reverse the goals of having had LASER skin resurfacing.  

Fredrick A. Valauri, M.D. - View Other Answers by this Doctor
New York, NY

A:

Tanning beds are very dangerous.  If you like the appearance of a tan, consider a spray tan.

A:

If you have had laser skin resurfacing, your skin is more sun sensitive.  Even with a high SPF sunscreen, sun tanning or tanning beds significantly increase your risk of hyperpigmentation (blotchy brown spots), which can be quite difficult to treat, especially in the first few months after treatment.

Rather than giving you a time frame, I would recommend that you stay out of the tanning beds permanently.  You'll avoid premature aging from photo-damage and reduce your risk of skin cancers.  Get a spray tan instead!

All the best,

Thomas G. S. Fiala, M.D. - View Other Answers by this Doctor
Altamonte Springs, FL

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