I had an operation on my lip two weeks ago to improve the appearance of my cleft lip and have been told by my surgeon that any form of smoking can damage the healing tissue. My question is whether using a vaporizer to consume cannabis will prove damaging? My doctor didn't seem to think so, although I didn't explicitly say that it would be used with cannabis. To clarify, nothing would actually be burning. Many thanks, Rory
Will Using a Vaporizer to "Smoke" Marijuana Impede my Lip's Healing Process? (photo)
Doctor Answers 2
Marijuana use and 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.
Pablo Prichard, MD
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Do you really "need" the THC?
You appear to have had a detailed discussion with your surgeon. Follow his advice and do not seek "approval" from online consultants who will not have to deal with any problems that develop with your surgical result.
Consider that even if you get THC into your system without actually "burning" anything, you could still bump and injure your lip repair as a result of getting high. This is why we do not advise patients to drive after receiving narcotic pain pills either.
Rory, hold off on the weed for now. Maybe forever. Best wishes! Dr. Tholen
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.