Will Marijuana/Weed and THC Affect Surgery Recovery?

blog 1

Cannabis, also known as marijuana, has been used for medicinal and recreational purposes for thousands of years. In recent years, there has been a growing trend towards the use of cannabis products for pain relief, anxiety, and other medical conditions. In many states, including New Jersey, cannabis is legal for adults. However, if you’re planning to have surgery, it’s important to know that cannabis products should not be used before surgery. Dr. Eric Carniol, a double board-certified facial plastic surgeon in Summit, NJ, explains why.

1. Cannabis Can Interact With Anesthesia

During surgery, anesthesia is used to help patients remain unconscious and pain-free. However, cannabis interacts with the receptors that anesthesia uses. This means that higher doses must be used. This will make it more difficult for the anesthesiologist to control the patient’s breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate. This can lead to serious complications during surgery.

2. Cannabis Can Increase Bleeding Risk

Cannabis use has been shown to increase the risk of bleeding. This is because cannabis can affect blood platelets, which are responsible for clotting blood. As well, the heart rate changing more frequently during the case is associated with more bleeding. Increased bleeding during surgery can lead to longer surgery times and a longer recovery time.

3. Cannabis Can Affect Breathing

Cannabis, particularly smokers, use can affect breathing, which can be dangerous during surgery. Smoke in the airway can increase the mucus production, clogging the airway and changing the way anesthesia gases are exchanged.

4. Cannabis Can Affect Medications

Cannabis use can also affect the way medications work in the body. For example, cannabis can interact with pain medications, making them less effective. This can lead to increased pain and the need for much higher pain medication use during and after surgery. Higher pain medication usage can lead to higher side effects including constipation that can become painful.

5. Cannabis Can Delay Healing

Cannabis use has been shown to delay wound healing, which can be a problem after surgery. Delayed healing can lead to infections, scarring, and other complications that can prolong recovery time.

In conclusion, cannabis products should not be used before surgery. Cannabis can interact with anesthesia, increase bleeding risk, affect breathing, affect medications, and delay healing. If you’re planning to have surgery, it’s important to be honest about your cannabis use and to follow postoperative instructions regarding medication and substance use before and after surgery. By doing so, you can help ensure a safe and successful surgical outcome.

6 Comments. Leave new

  • If you’re planning on having surgery then when would be the best time to cut back on using cannabis or THC products?

  • Good teaching

    • Eric Carniol, MD
      November 14, 2023 9:36 pm

      Thank you. Hopefully, this is a useful resource.

      • Hi I’m over bileratial masctomy 10 weeks in and I started to smoke weed for pain relief and sleep every evening for the past three weeks..Will this effect my wounds from healing..I’m not a smoker and have never used it before

        • Eric Carniol, MD
          January 28, 2024 4:08 pm

          You should review your marijuana smoking with your doctor. At 10 weeks after surgery, most patients are through the main stage of healing. Your chronic pain treatment should be reviewed with your doctor as well!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed