Marijuana affects many parts of the body. These effects can impact your surgery through the following ways:
You should discuss with your surgical team if you are using any form of marijuana or cannabis products. It can affect the outcome of your surgery. It is recommended to stop using marijuana products 72 hours before surgery.
Smoking marijuana increases your risk of breathing problems. Marijuana cigarettes are unfiltered. Users take deep breaths and hold their breath. This increases the amount of harmful chemicals like tar that are absorbed in the airways. Marijuana burns at a higher temperature than tobacco, thus the smoke causes more thermal (heat) injury to the throat and airway as well. Marijuana smokers can have wheezing, coughing and chronic bronchitis. These are the same symptoms you see with tobacco smokers but can happen up to 10 years sooner in marijuana smokers.1
Did You Know?
One study estimated that 3–4 cannabis cigarettes daily have the same effect of about 20 tobacco cigarettes in terms of bronchial tissue damage.2
Smoking marijuana can cause swelling of the uvula (uvulitis). The uvula is the small, teardrop-shaped piece of soft tissue that hangs from the center of your soft palate. Uvular swelling can last 12 to 24 hours after smoking marijuana.3
If your uvula is swollen:
Vaping marijuana is not safer than smoking marijuana. When vaping or “dabbing,” the concentrate is inhaled all at once—in a single breath. As a result, large amounts of THC are delivered to the body quickly, causing a high and affecting judgment and motor skills. Chronic marijuana vaping can damage the cells in the lungs. This can cause inflammation (swelling), and increased chances of respiratory infections. Chronic marijuana use can lead to a substance use disorder, and over the long-term, addiction.
In 2019, there were increased emergency room visits and deaths after vaping THC. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have recommended not using THC-containing e-cigarettes.4
Marijuana can cause your heart rate and blood pressure to increase or decrease depending on how much you take.
The effects of marijuana peak at approximately 1 hour and can last 2–4 hours.10
If you are having surgery, you should not use cannabis products within 72 hours of general anesthesia.10
Let your surgeon know if you are having difficulty stopping marijuana. You may be irritable, angry, nervous, and sleep deprived. You may have less appetite, feel depressed or moody, and have tremors, sweating, fever, chills, and headache.
If you feel you are addicted to marijuana:
Patients are strongly encouraged to talk with their doctors about their marijuana/cannabis use. This helps with your safe treatment plans prior to surgery. The American College of Surgeons (ACS) has not taken a position on legalization of marijuana for medical use. The ACS does not support the smoking or vaping of marijuana and other cannabinoids as smoking poses numerous health risks to the surgical patient. For questions, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fill in the table below with your doctor to have a conversation about how use could impact your surgery and health. This form may also be printed and taken to your appointment.