Plastic Surgeon Warns: “Sunburn Tattoos’ Could Be the Worst Viral Challenge Ever!!

Heads up on this trend. This is no joke and it’s even less of a joke if someone winds up with  skin cancer as a result. Please read this important message from guest expert (and frequent contributor), Dr. Manish Shah!

Plastic Surgeon Warns: “Sunburn Tattoos’ Could Be the Worst Viral Challenge Ever

 by Dr. Manish Shaw



Instagram is full of all kinds of viral challenges. Some of them are charitable such as “The Ice Bucket Challenge,” some are silly like the Kyle Jenner “Lip Challenge,” others are fitness-oriented such as planking in obscure places

The sunburn tattoo challenge which has its own hashtag on Instagram is downright dangerous.



What it is:

Young people are putting stencils or stickers on their skin, then they lay in the sun without sunscreen. After they burn and take the stencil off – what’s behind is an outline known as the “sunburn tattoo.” Other sunbathers do the inverse and use a stencil to hide some skin from the sun while burning the surrounding area.




The dangers: Dr. Shah says,

“At first glance it may look like harmless fun in the sun. The bottom line is that sunburn tattoos are extremely dangerous and can put you at serious risk of skin cancer.”


Here is a video from Denise Dador of KABC Los Angeles,


What makes this more dangerous than a ‘standard burn’ explains Dr. Shah is that in order for the stencil, or tattoo, to be visible, you would have to damage the surrounding tissue enough that it either tans heavily or burns. By intentionally keeping the area sunscreen-free will do harm to the DNA in the skin cells.

Dr. Shah warns that, “sitting out in the sun without the appropriate protection could not only cause life-long damage, but could also double the risk of skin cancer.”



Is there a safe way to get a sunburn tattoo? Dr. Shah has 3 kids and he would rather see them get an actual tattoo than use this method.

“There is no safe way to get a sunburn tattoo. That is major misconception. There is no such thing as a safe tan. A lot of these sunburn tattoos are being done by kids. When you have young skin like that, it is especially vulnerable to ultraviolet rays. You are more likely to see signs of aging.”


A Safe Way:
You can order all kinds of temporary designs online; ask for an airbrush design from a tattoo shop; and if you want the “tan tattoo” look, just put a sticker on your arm before rubbing on self-tanner.


 About Dr. Manish Shah

Manish Shah, M.D., F.A.C.S. was born in Canada and raised in the Washington, D.C. area. He graduated with honors from the University of Pennsylvania, receiving a degree in biomedical engineering. He then completed his medical training at the University of Virginia, earning his Medical Doctorate.
During this time, he also completed a one-year fellowship in microsurgery research at the New York University School of Medicine / Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery. As a prelude to his plastic surgery training, Dr. Shah completed a rigorous five-year training program in General and Trauma Surgery at Emory University and the Medical College of Georgia. His formal training in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery was completed at the Univ. of Tennessee College of Medicine – Chattanooga Unit. After completing his plastic surgery training, he moved to New York City when he was selected for the prestigious Aesthetic Surgery Fellowship at Manhattan Eye, Ear, and Throat Hospital. He underwent extensive, advanced training in aesthetic surgery of the face, breasts, and body at the hands of some of the most renowned cosmetic surgeons in the world. This fellowship is widely considered to be the best of its kind in the world. Dr. Shah is one of only a select few plastic surgeons in the country who have undergone formal post-graduate training in aesthetic surgery.

Dr. Shah is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.  He maintains a private practice in Aesthetic Plastic Surgery in the Cherry Creek neighborhood of Denver.

Dr. Shah is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the Rhinoplasty Society, and the European Academy of Facial Plastic Surgery.

Dr. Shah’s specialties include revision facial aesthetic surgery, rhinoplasty (“nose reshaping”), and aesthetic surgery of the breast (breast augmentation, breast lift, breast reduction). He is, however, well-trained in all areas of aesthetic surgery.

Dr. Shah’s aim is to obtain a natural appearing transformation that complements the real you!

Dr. Shah is board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. thanks Dr. Manish Shah for such insightful and important advice on protecting your skin this summer!

Stevie Wilson,

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Author: Stevie Wilson

Digital and social media pioneer and visionary meets disruptive innovator with a passion for topics and conversations that reveal insight into the So. California lifestyle. appeals to a global audience (from Asia to Africa; Middle East to Europe, No. America to Latin America) in variety of topics and sectors: style (beauty and fashion), health & fitness, entertainment (movies, TV, books, music and more) ; food, beverages & spirits; IT Security + tech , travel, special events (red carpet to green carpet) I am known for interviews ( podcasts , textual and video conversations) with notables, celebrities and companies about interesting products & brands; profiles about places that reflect the So. CA vision and special events (Oscars, Golden Globes, Emmys & other events that illustrate celebrity , athletes and home-town "stars" lifestyle and initiatives.) that illuminate the insider's perspective of So. California's lifestyle . Learn what's hot in Los Angeles, NYC, MIami and stops closer to home that make this blog a must-read because the voice, attitude, authenticity and ability to grasp the essence of most sectors, brands & products make it easy for consumers to earn what makes a brand, initiative or product unique - whether, food, fashion or finance (or any other topic "on the table") With 15+ Years online launching websites, online magazines, forums, products & brands, my voice, authenticity and ability to grasp the essence of most sectors, brands & products make it easy for me to share what the online audience and consumers alike want to learn- how to shop, live and reflect the lifestyle they wish to emulate. Need to leverage digital and social media space? Reach out to me!

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