Summer Surgery Tips and Suggestions from Nurse Chris

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Chris in Ireland

Our nurse, Chris Murakami, just returned from a wonderful vacation in Ireland and wanted to share some tips about sun and surgery with our readers!

Planning surgery during the summer months?

Here are some things to remember during vacations, trips to the beach, boating, or simply working in the yard.

It is very important to avoid becoming sunburned before surgery. It is quite possible you could be asked to postpone your surgery depending on the nature of the procedure and the degree of sunburn.  Many of our patients put a great deal of research and planning into scheduling surgery.  Making travel plans, arranging time off of work, and obtaining care givers is no easy task!  We’re here to help you keep your surgery plan on track.

Avoiding sun exposure immediately after surgery is equally important.  You are more likely to burn during that time period especially in areas that blood flow has been disrupted. Keep in mind your sensitivity to heat can be diminished so you might not realize that you are getting burned.

Submerging your body in standing water should not be done until all incisions are completely healed.  This typically takes as long as three to four weeks, but be sure that there is no open or draining area nor any remaining sutures before considering that summer swim.   There are micro-organisms out there that can cause infections and your intact skin normally provides a natural barrier.   You should always avoid the ocean, lakes, rivers, pools, hot tubs etc. whenever you have open wounds – surgical or traumatic.

As far as long term care, try to avoid sun exposure to both your incision lines and any bruised areas. The sun can turn your scars and skin dark if they are exposed before they completely heal or mature. This process typically takes about a year to happen for the surgical scar.  A good guideline is to wait until the scar is no longer pink before considering sun exposure.

Having surgery does not mean that you can’t enjoy the remainder of your summer!   Just be prepared. Stay in the shade as much as possible.  Hats, umbrellas, and sunblock are a must during pre and post-surgical weeks.  And remember, when you are out in the sun and heat, always stay well hydrated! – Have a great Summer! – Chris

Do you have a summer surgery tip to share with our readers?

Safety Tips for Catching Some Rays

You love the look of a tan, but you don’t want the problems that can come with exposure to the sun. What if we told you that you could tan in a relatively safe manner? Here’s how.

Easy does it.

If you decide to lie in the sun, don’t try to get a full-on tan all at once. Gradually work up to the color you want by spending shorter times in the sun. The bonus is that you get natural vitamin D through sunlight. It’s better to err on the side of less sun exposure . . . there’s always tomorrow.

One possibility is to start your tan with short stints in the sun for a week or two, and then use a self tanner (more below) to deepen the color without extra sun exposure. A “short stint” depends on how quickly you burn. If you’re fair skinned, you may only be able to stay in the sun for 20 minutes or so, while the darker-skinned among us may be able to tan for an hour at a time.

Watch your time.

You are more likely to burn if you lie in the sun at midday, so try tanning in the morning or later in the afternoon. You can stay out a little longer then. Continue to wear sunscreen if you may be in the sun longer than the time it takes you to burn.

Try a tan in a bottle.

Self tanners are much easier to apply than they were years ago, and you don’t risk sun exposure when you use them. They work by changing your skin color, and a self tanner lasts about a week. You need to be careful how you apply it for best results, but you can get a nice looking tan from a bottle. Often people who try a self tanner and are inexperienced find that their skin looks streaky or blotchy, so there may be a learning curve for you to get the color you desire.

If you don’t mind applying it daily, tinted moisturizer or a bronzer will give you a sun-kissed look.

No matter how you decide to tan, remember that the tan occurs in the outermost layer of your skin, so anything you can do to hold on to that layer will extend the duration of your tan. Avoiding exfoliation and using moisturizer will help. As doctors, we do want to gently remind you that excessive sun exposure may cause cancer and premature aging.