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Is it Safe to Smoke Weed Before Plastic Surgery?

left side of photo: doctors doing a surgery inside operating room right side: closeup of hand holding a weed

While cannabis offers a spectrum of wellness benefits, evidence suggests that smoking weed before plastic surgery poses numerous health risks.

In fact, smoking cannabis before any surgical procedure may alter the effectiveness of anesthesia, prolong the healing process, and increase post-surgical pain.

Although there are no clear guidelines around marijuana use and surgery, discussing consumption habits with your doctor can help to safeguard your health and promote optimal healing.

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Smoking Marijuana Before Plastic Surgery

Surgery inherently comes with risks, but smoking cannabis may increase some of them significantly. Although cannabis is brimming with therapeutic potential, its effects may negatively affect surgical outcomes.

Chronic use may increase the risk of cardiac issues such as elevated blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, or tachycardia (rapid heartbeat). Findings also indicate that heavy consumers may be at an increased risk for heart attack and strokes.

If your cosmetic procedure requires anesthesia, you may want to think twice before lighting up. It could be best to hold off on smoking for several days (or weeks) before surgery.

“I recommend abstaining from weed for at least 15-20 days before your surgery,” said Dr. Rosmy Barrios, Director of the Anti-aging Department at the Swiss Medica Stem Cell Clinic in Belgrade, Serbia.

“Research shows that marijuana can be traced for up to 30 days and even longer in your bloodstream depending on how much you ingest. So, it makes sense to be on the safer side and avoid any complications.”

Another reason doctors must be aware of your cannabis habits is because of how it interacts with anesthesia. Regular marijuana smokers may require higher doses of anesthesia to achieve and maintain proper sedation throughout the procedure.

THC, which is an active ingredient in marijuana, is a central nervous system depressant and slows your brain activity,” said Dr. Barrios. “When used in combination with anesthesia drugs like benzodiazepine and narcotics, it can further slow brain activity, which is not recommended during surgery.”

Basically, you don’t want to wake up in the middle of surgery because the operating physician got your dose of anesthetic wrong due to your cannabis use.

Can You Smoke Weed After Plastic Surgery?

Despite its potential to ease pain and inflammation, smoking weed directly after plastic surgery is not advised.

Smoking, in general, can prove to be counterproductive to recovery and may actually intensify postoperative pain.

“Cannabis can increase postoperative requirements for pain medication, forcing the surgeon to prescribe more potent drugs such as narcotics,” explained Dr. Ahmad Ahmadi, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon at Avante Plastic Surgery in Houston.

One long-term study found that patients who used cannabis within 30 days before surgery experienced 14% more pain during the first 24 hours post-surgery compared to non-cannabis users. They also consumed 7% more opioids than their non-cannabis-consuming counterparts.

Smoking after plastic surgery also affects the lungs, potentially causing coughing fits that may affect your incision sites.

“Cannabis, when smoked, causes airway inflammation very similar to tobacco smoking,” said Dr. Ahmadi. “[This may lead to coughing], which is detrimental to a plastic surgery patient in the postoperative period causing hematoma (blood collection) or dehiscence (incision site opening).”

Not only is smoking hard on the lungs, it’s also known to adversely affect the healing process.

“[Smoking during recovery] can hinder blood flow to the treated area and cause an unsightly scar, poor healing, or more serious complications such as skin necrosis [tissue death],” explained Dr. Javad Sajan, Seattle-based Board Certified Plastic Surgeon and originator of the Advanced Facial Simulator.

Finally, smoking weed after surgery puts you at a higher risk of bleeding complications. In some rare instances, doctors must prescribe blood thinners, such as warfarin, after surgery to prevent blood clots. Research indicates that cannabis may reduce the efficacy of anticoagulants, which could result in internal bleeding.

How Long Should You Wait to Smoke Weed After Surgery?

Ultimately, the question of resuming your smoking habits largely depends on the nature of the procedure, your level of discomfort, and the rate of your recovery.

The general consensus is to wait at least two weeks after surgery before lighting up again in order to take advantage of cannabis’s anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety effects.

However, when in doubt, reach out to your doctor to learn when it’s safe to resume your cannabis regimen.

Edibles, Topicals, and Other Consumption Methods

Cannabis edibles, tinctures, and capsules are free from the harmful effects of smoking, but it may be best to avoid them immediately before or after surgery.

Evidence suggests that cannabinoids such as THC and, in some cases, CBD have been associated with elevated blood pressure, bleeding, and heightened postoperative pain. Cannabis is also associated with a slight increase in postoperative nausea and vomiting.

Cannabis edible products vary in potency, which can also present unpredictable effects — especially if consumed immediately before or after a cosmetic procedure. So while it may be tempting to reach for an edible to alleviate post-surgery pain, check in with your doctor to determine when the time is right.

What About CBD Topicals for Post-Surgery Incisions?

Despite its well-earned reputation for delivering targeted pain relief, the use of topical CBD in the early recovery phase is strongly discouraged.

“CBD topicals are not recommended on fresh scars,” Dr. Sajan said. “If the scar is fully healed, this is likely fine. But in the initial stages of healing, patients should not apply anything their surgeon does not know about or approve.”

Since the CBD market is virtually unregulated, medical professionals are pretty skeptical about the application of CBD topicals on or around the surgical site.

“I don’t recommend using marijuana in any form, whether THC or CBD, after your surgery,” Dr. Barrios said. “There’s only anecdotal evidence that CBD is safe to use after surgery. We need more research showcasing how it affects your body after surgery.”

The Bottom Line

Despite its beneficial properties, smoking weed directly before — or after — cosmetic surgery comes with considerable risks and is simply not advised. Smoking causes harm to the pulmonary and respiratory systems, poses numerous health risks, and hinders the healing process.

Regardless of your preferred consumption method, inform your doctor of your cannabis habits as well as any other medication and supplements you are taking prior to surgery.

Armed with your complete medical profile, your doctor can develop a multi-modal approach to perform a safe cosmetic procedure, set the stage for optimum healing, and leave you looking (and feeling) your best!

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Frequently Asked Questions

How long after plastic surgery can you smoke weed? 

It largely depends on the nature of your procedure, but the consensus is that you can resume smoking weed anywhere from two to six weeks after plastic surgery.

Can you get a tummy tuck if you smoke weed? 

You can get a tummy tuck if you smoke weed, but tell your doctor about your cannabis intake to create the appropriate perioperative plan.

Can I smoke weed before a breast reduction? 

With a surgery as extensive as a breast reduction, it may be best to abstain from smoking weed for about four weeks prior to surgery.

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