Cannabis Science - Cannabis Studies
August 30, 2019

Cannabis Use Before and After Surgery

Mel Perron
3 mins

Cannabis and Surgery


Going under the knife is not fun no matter what type of surgery you're having, and recovery can be painful. Doctors may prescribe opioids or other pain killers to treat pain after surgery, but is there a better way to deal with pain?


With so many contributing factors like prescription drugs being potentially addictive, and the many side effects a patient may have or even allergic reactions, it comes as no surprise the patients want to educate themselves on all possible after surgery care options.  Cannabis is an effective pain reliever for chronic or long-lasting pain, but after an intense surgery is it the right choice for you?


cannabis before or after surgery

Cannabis Before Surgery


If possible, avoiding the use of cannabis for the weeks before surgery is recommended. Cannabis can complicate surgery and should be avoided in the weeks[DW2]  before a scheduled procedure. As with many “cannabis and” research topics, extensive research on how and why cannabis use affects the body during surgery is limited. We do know that cannabis, while effective for decreasing anxiety and nausea before surgery, has the potential to interact with anesthesia. Localized freezing and anesthesia both are less effective with cannabis in your blood. Cannabis causes the blood vessels of the body to relax, a process called vasodilation, which can cause the blood pressure to fall and the heart rate to increase, circulating your blood more quickly, effecting localized freezing time and effectiveness.  


Is It Safe to Use Cannabis After Surgery?


As mentioned, there are a lot of adverse effects of prescribed opioid painkillers after surgery, so how does cannabis compare and help manage unwanted symptoms?


One prominent study, led by the Imperial College London in the United Kingdom and the Medical Research Council and published in the Journal of Anesthesiology, researchers found that Cannador, a cannabis plant extract, has significant analgesic (pain relieving) effects for those suffering from post-operation pain.


How did it Work?

Cannabis extracts work due to the cannabinoid receptors in the brain. These receptors interact with the cannabinoids in Cannador and helped to strengthen the body's ability to reduce pain sensation. The doctors adjusted the dose level of the drug per patient. The results were clear and positive: as the dose increased, patients experienced less pain. However, the Cannador did have some side effects like increased heart rate that came along with these higher dosages.


Still, the study was positive overall, showing cannabis was beneficial for use after surgery, providing ideal pain relief with few side effects. This potentially means we could see doctors prescribe cannabis or cannabis extract in the future as pain relief alternatives. 


someone surgery before or after cannabis surgery care


Cannabis and Surgery - Oils, Not Joints or Bongs


The medical industry still has a long way to go before just anyone can get a cannabis prescription after surgery. But for those who have just had surgery and are looking to use cannabis to treat pain, they might want to consider various ways of administrating the cannabis. Instead of smoking cannabis, we suggest oils and, if you are comfortable, edibles. Especially if you've had heart or lungs surgery, coughing can interrupt the healing process and be painful.


Smoking Cannabis After Surgery


There are several risks associated with smoking cannabis immediately after surgery. In general, doctors may need your body to be substance-free for a follow-up procedure so that if something goes wrong, it's easier for them to figure out the cause. A few of the significant risks to consider are the risk of infection, decreased blood flow, and slower recovery. 


Smoking cannabis involves inhaling large numbers of particulates, some which can be detrimental to your health both in the long term and short term. This process can also damage the immune system and create a potentially unhygienic environment.


You will want to be extremely cautious and careful about smoking cannabis immediately after surgery, especially if you're combining them with painkillers. We don't recommend mixing cannabis use with any type of opioid-like drug without consultation with your doctor. 


Recovering after surgery can be a lengthy and painful process, and thankfully, cannabis can play a big role in making this period more bearable. There are risks associated with smoking shortly after surgery so you should listen to your doctor's advice to safely use cannabis to relieve your pain and help get you back to normal. As we suggested before, asking your doctor about cannabis oils, and the benefits you may receive without the risk of lung damage or pain would be the best-recommended path.


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