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Marijuana, Smoking and Weight Loss Surgery

By Tina Thomas, MD | July 7, 2022

Now that the state of New Jersey legalized the use of recreational marijuana for adults, several patients have asked how using marijuana can affect their weight loss surgery journey.

To start, the use of marijuana should be discussed with your surgeon. Smoking, whether it’s cigarettes or marijuana, is a health risk that can lead to lung and heart complications both during and after bariatric surgery as well as long-term health consequences. Marijuana itself can alter clotting factors in our blood, making our bodies more prone to developing clots which can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Your surgeon will discuss these risks and how to safely prepare for surgery.

Marijuana Use when Planning for Weight Loss Surgery

Marijuana use has been studied extensively, and when it is smoked or eaten as edibles, chemicals called cannabinoids are released into the body and can cause increased heart rate, high blood pressure and heart rhythm abnormalities. Transitioning from smoking marijuana to oral formulations, such as edibles or extracts, may lessen the risk of airway compromise and decrease the chances of systemic issues during and after surgery, but must  be discussed with your doctor prior to surgery.

Marijuana Use after Weight Loss Surgery

There is not enough research available to have a definitive answer to how marijuana use will affect you after your weight loss surgery whether it’s gastric sleeve, bypass or band. In a small, study at a an academic center participants were followed up to 2 years after their gastric sleeve or gastric bypass procedures and the excess weight lost after surgery measured by BMI did not differ significantly between marijuana users and non-users. Even with the findings in this small study, it’s still important to understand that marijuana use is a health risk. 

If you are planning to have weight loss surgery or have had weight loss surgery and have more questions regarding marijuana use related to your weight loss journey, give us a call at 908-481-1270.

Sources

  1. Haskins IN, Amdur R, Vaziri K. The effect of smoking on bariatric surgical outcomes. Surgical Endoscopy.  2014;28(11):3074-3080. doi:10.1007/s00464-014-3581
  2. Haskins IN, Nowacki AS, Khorgami Z, et al. Should recent smoking be a contraindication for sleeve gastrectomy? Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases. 2017;13(7):1130-1135. Doi: 10.1016/j.soard.2017.02.028
  3. Shockcor N, Adnan SM, Siegel A, Wise E, Zafar SN, Kligman M. Marijuana use does not affect the outcomes of bariatric surgery. Surg Endosc. 2021 Mar;35(3):1264-1268. doi: 10.1007/s00464-020-07497-5. Epub 2020 Mar 12. PMID: 32166550.
Dr. Thomas is board certified in general surgery and surgical critical care, with specialty training in advanced minimally invasive general and bariatric surgery. Dr. Thomas elected to attend medical school in India and graduated with distinction. She completed her general surgery residency at the University of Connecticut, where she received awards for resident excellence and leadership by example. Dr. Thomas has completed two fellowships, in surgical critical care and advanced minimally invasive and bariatric surgery, from the University of Michigan and Hackensack University Medical Center respectively.
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