Does Smoking Cannabis Before Surgery Affect Anesthesia?

Surgeon adjusting oxygen mask on patient mouth in operation theater at hospital

Are you or a loved one expecting to have a surgical procedure soon?  

Thousands of Americans get tons of surgeries for a plethora of different conditions every year.  Without the medical advancements in surgeries that we have seen in the past few centuries, the long average lifespans that people enjoy in current times would not be possible.  Injuries that we now consider quite menial and insignificant such as broken bones, advanced bacterial infections, cysts, deep cuts and extensive joint damage would be guaranteed to end up in a painful (and sometimes slow) death without current surgical medicine!

Even though surgeries are now a necessary and extremely common occurrence, this doesn’t mean that these intensive medical procedures don’t stir up a great deal of stress.  Simply the fact that someone else is going to have to open up and move things around in your body for any reason would logically cause most people to feel some type of anxiety.  This anxiety is sometimes felt even more intensely by many medical marijuana patients. This is because one of their main concerns is whether they should stop smoking weed before surgery.

Why do so many medical marijuana patients worry about this?  Well, they are primarily worried about whether smoking weed affects anesthesia.  While it makes so much sense to take a toke of your favorite flower to relieve some of the anxiety related to the surgery, as a medical cannabis patient you might want to take a moment to debate whether smoking weed before anesthesia is a good idea.   Anesthesia is a critical component of almost every surgery.  Anesthesia refers to a collection of different medical compounds that are used to sedate and cause an insensitivity to pain in patients so that they don’t feel any discomfort or pain during their surgical procedures.  Since it is so critical to a successful surgery, let’s take a close look at the effects of smoking marijuana before anesthesia below:

Does weed affect anesthesia?

While cannabis is very therapeutic for a variety of medical conditions, it makes sense to wonder whether those healing effects transfer over to the surgical process.  The truth is that the effect of cannabis on anesthesia is dependent on the patient. Cannabis doesn’t usually have an enormous effect on anesthesia for most people. However, different variables in their physiology such as medical conditions, blood pressure, cardiovascular health and prescription medications can cause the use of medical marijuana before surgery to be extremely dangerous.

For example, the use of medical cannabis can help decrease the blood pressure of most people with severe hypertension.  However, if these patients smoke or ingest cannabis before a surgical procedure and their anesthesiologist (the doctor who administers anesthesia before the surgery) is unaware of it, they may add unnecessary anti-hypertension medication to the anesthesia treatment that could cause these patients’ blood pressures to drop to a dangerous level.  It is extremely important to let your anesthesiologist know the details of your marijuana use to avoid complications during surgery, even if you are not a legal medical marijuana patient!

How long before surgery should I stop smoking weed?

It is recommended to stop smoking marijuana several hours before your surgery.  Even though the effects of cannabis only last for a few hours and you will arrive at the hospital several hours before the actual procedure, the smoking or vaporizing of marijuana can cause sputum production in the lungs that can be problematic during surgery.  As long as you follow your pre-surgery protocol and stop smoking or ingesting marijuana products when you are supposed to stop consuming everything, you should be in a safe time range.

If you have more questions about the effects of smoking weed before surgery or are looking for a great clinic to get your medical marijuana card, please contact us any time at Affordable Evaluations of Arizona!

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