Is It Safe to Eat Marijuana Before or After Surgery?

There are a fair amount of questions about smoking/vaporizing marijuana both pre and post-op. It's clear that smoking anything can negatively affect surgery. But what about eating it? Will the pot itself affect the healing process?

Doctor Answers (5)

Marijuana and surgery

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Here are the major points of smoking Tobacco or Marijuana before or after surgery:
1. There is nicotine in tobacco, but not in marijuana. However, most joints are rolled with marijuana and tobacco combination. Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor that decreases blood flow to the tissues. This is the major problems that can cause a very bad outcome in some surgeries. In a breast augmentation, there is not a lot of risk as there are not a lot of incisions which decrease blood flow to the tissues. In a breast lift or tummy tuck, on the other hand, there is much longer and more involved incisions. The decrease in blood flow to the tissues in combination with the decrease in blood flow from the nicotine can cause tissue to die. This can cause part of the breast or nipple, or in the case of a tummy tuck, part of the belly tissue to die, resulting in a very bad outcome. Marijuana without tobacco does not cause this problem, or marijuana in an edible fashion.
2. There is carbon monoxide in both tobacco smoke and marijuana smoke. Carbon monoxide decreases the oxygen carrying capacity of hemoglobin in the blood. This is different from the vasoconstrictor effect, but has the same result of having the risk of tissue death in conjunction with surgeries that decrease the blood flow to tissues such as breast lifts and tummy tucks, as opposed to an augmentation alone that does not decrease blood flow to as great of an extent. Again, edible forms of marijuana do not have smoke, and thus carbon monoxide poisoning.
3. Coughing. Both tobacco and marijuana smoke disrupt the lining of the lungs and bronchi and can lead to coughing episodes. Coughing episodes can lead to internal bleeding after surgery that can lead to hematomas and complications, and again a bad outcome. Again, edible forms of marijuana does not have this effect.
4. Anesthesia effects. Marijuana can have drug interactions with certain anesthetic drugs. Thus it is important to tell your anesthesiologist about your marijuana use.
In conclusion, Smoking, whether it be tobacco or marijuana, is detrimental to your surgery outcome. Edible marijuana is much less so, but be honest about your use with your surgeon and anesthesiologist so that you can have the best outcome.
Best wishes,
Pablo Prichard, MD


Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Eating some MJ

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Is eating marijuana okay? Well, first, I wouldn't want to encourange any behavior which in your individual case or the state you live in may be illegal.  That being said, there are no studies on whether eating marijuana can compromise wound healing.  Eating or vaporizing marijuana is theoretically better then smoking it.  There may also be some antiinflammatory properaties to THC, not that taking an Advil wouldn't also have anitinflammatory advantages either.  But I don't hear anyone jonesing for an Motrin muffin, so...

David S. Rosenberg, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

Is Marijuana safe before and after surgery

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I agree that smoking is not beneficial to healing, but what about eating marijuana. There are no controlled studies concerning the effect of THC on healing, strictly in and oral form. Safe, perhaps, but the data is not there. As the use of medical marijuana spreads, perhaps questions such as these will deserve study. The benefits such as reduction of pain and anxiety, reduction of nausea, and improvement in appetite claimed, all deserve study so that appropriate recommendations can be made. The best advice now, discuss any medication or medicinal with your surgeon and anesthesiologist before and after your procedure.

Best of luck,

peterejohnsonmd

Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

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Marijuana eating and surgery

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 I owuld not recommend using marijuana by smoking or eating before or after surgery. Besides being illegal, there are no studies looking at the effects of digested marjuana.

Steven Wallach, MD
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Marijuana and breast implants

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There have never been any studies about marijuana and healing that I know of, and there will likely never be, until marijuana is legalized. 

Although THC is not similar to nicotine, to be on the safe side, i put it in the same category because we don't know its effects.  For surgeries that do not have difficult healing issues, such as breast augmentation, I do not enforce any alteration in habits.  For other surgeries such as tummy tuck or breast reduction or lift, i do recommend three weeks cessation before and two weeks after. There is no data to support this, but it makes me feel safer.

Gordon Lewis, MD
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These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.