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The Importance of Sun Protection After Facelift Surgery


Retired Woman in Sun Protection Hat Relaxing on a Beach

If you’ve invested your time and money into getting a facelift procedure, you’re going to want to ensure that your results last as long as possible – after all, a facelift is an invasive procedure, and you’re going to want to reap the benefits of your investment for as long as possible.

When it comes to long-lasting results post-op, one of the most important factors is following proper aftercare instructions – and this includes shielding your skin from harmful UV rays, aka sun exposure.

In the following article, we’re going to take a look at the importance of sun protection after facelift surgery, and provide practical tips for maintaining your skin’s health and the longevity of your facelift results post-op. Let’s take a look!


Understanding the harmful effects of sun exposure

As you may already know, sun exposure is one of the primary causes of skin ageing, and can contribute to the development of wrinkles, fine lines, age spots, and sagging skin; these effects are due to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which damages the skin’s collagen and elastin fibres, leading to a loss of firmness, elasticity, and overall skin health. In fact, sun damage is one reason that many patients opt for a facelift – you can take a look at our facelift surgery before and after photographs to see how the procedure can help reverse this damage.

In addition to this, excessive sun exposure can also increase the risk of skin cancer, making sun protection an essential aspect of overall skin care, especially after a facelift procedure.


Why should you avoid the sun after a facelift?

During the recovery period following a facelift, the skin and underlying tissues are healing, making it vital for you to protect them from the sun’s harmful rays. Exposing your skin to the sun during this time can cause irritation, prolonged redness, inflammation, and increased swelling, which may negatively impact the healing process and the final outcome of the surgery.

Alongside these immediate concerns, sun protection also plays a key role in maintaining the long-term results of a facelift, as continued exposure to UV radiation can accelerate the ageing process and compromise the rejuvenating effects of the procedure.


How long do I have to stay out of the sun after a facelift?

So, how long should you avoid sun exposure after a facelift? In general, it’s never a good idea to expose your skin directly to the sun, especially during the warmer months or during the hottest parts of the day. That being said, you should aim to avoid the sun for around 2 weeks following your treatment, but you should also take care to protect your skin from direct sun exposure all year round. As explained above, sun exposure is directly linked to skin cell damage and the depletion of collagen, both of which are essential components when it comes to healthy, youthful skin.


Sun protection after a facelift: tips and tricks

To ensure optimal healing and prolong the results of your facelift, it’s important to adopt diligent sun protection habits – although you should already be taking steps to protect your skin from UV damage with a daily SPF. Here are some practical tips for protecting your skin from the sun’s damaging effects after a facelift:


Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen

To protect your skin when you’re outdoors and going about your day-to-day activities, choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that offers protection against both UVA and UVB rays: look for products with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30, and apply it liberally to your face, neck, and any other exposed skin, even on cloudy days. Remember to reapply every two hours, or more frequently if you are swimming or sweating.


Wear protective clothing

In addition to using sunscreen, wearing protective clothing can help to shield your skin from the sun’s harmful rays; opt for wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses with UV protection when aiming to keep your face out of the sun.


Seek shade

Whenever possible, seek shade during peak sun hours, which are typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are most intense; this will help to minimise your skin’s exposure to UV radiation and reduce the risk of sun damage.


Be mindful of reflections

Be aware that reflective surfaces, such as water, sand, and snow, can intensify the sun’s rays and increase the risk of sunburn and skin damage; take extra precautions in these environments to ensure adequate sun protection.


Check your medications

Some medications can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun; speak with your healthcare provider or pharmacist about any medications you are taking, and follow their recommendations for sun protection.


Consult your surgeon

Your surgeon will provide specific post-operative sun protection guidelines based on your individual needs and the details of your facelift procedure; it is essential to follow their advice closely to ensure the best possible recovery and maintain the results of your surgery.


Check your skincare routine

Following a facelift, it’s normal for you to want to tackle post-op scarring, and this can often involve using skincare ingredients such as retinol and Vitamin C, both of which help to speed up skin cell turnover and reduce the appearance of scarring. However, do note that any skincare ingredient that speeds up cell turnover will also make your skin more sensitive to the sun, as it effectively “removes” the skin’s top layer. To avoid incurring sun damage while treating scars, it’s a good idea to use products with these ingredients at nighttime, rather than during the day. And don’t forget to apply SPF liberally when incorporating these skincare actives into your recovery routine.

Ultimately, sun protection is a critical aspect of post-facelift skincare, playing a crucial role in the healing process and the long-term maintenance of the rejuvenating effects of the surgery. By adopting diligent sun protection habits, you can help to ensure the best possible outcome for your facelift procedure and enjoy a more youthful, radiant, and healthy complexion for years to come.

Dr Ivo Gwanmesia

Dr Ivo Gwanmesia is one of Harley Street’s most experienced and renowned craniofacial plastic surgeons. With over a decade of professional experience, he has transformed the lives of countless patients from all over the UK & abroad.

Due to his vast and hands-on training in the UK and the US, Dr Ivo now specialises in more than a dozen different aesthetic, craniofacial and transgender procedures. Some of them include face, neck, and brow lifts, upper and lower blepharoplasty, breast reduction & breast uplift as well as facial feminisation surgery, to name a few.

Dr Gwanmesia has also conducted pioneering research, which led to the development of a new technique for the reconstruction of the middle vault of the nose, known as the ‘Fulcrum Spreader Graft’. He was also part of a study comparing the efficacy of the Sheen Spreader Graft and the Fulcrum Spreader Graft. The study has since been published on PubMed and the Journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.