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Question:

Marijuana and General Anesthesia

Dear Ask The Doctor:
I am scheduled to go under general anesthesia for dental surgery (wisdom teeth extraction, implant, and possible bone graph from jaw depending on the strength of the implant site). I smoke marijuana on a regular basis and I am concerned about how this may affect the anesthesia. I know this is something I should discuss with my anesthesiologist however my Mom is present for many of the appointments even though I am legally an adult and I do not want her to know. Am I at risk? Will the THC lingering in my body affect the anesthesia? How many days before the surgery should I stop smoking?


Answer:

There are two factors to consider here. The first is smoking. Smoking affects the airways and makes them more reactive that the non-smoker. This means that your airways may respond negatively to anesthesia making it a little difficult to deliver oxygen while you sleep. The anesthesiologists do have ways of counteracting that effect.
The second factor to consider is the marijuana itself. The drug tends to interact with a number of medications generally decreasing their effects.
I would suggest you stop smoking two weeks before the procedure and be sure to inform your doctor that you use marijuana as well as the fact that you are on Prozac. You can ask to speak with your doctor without your mother present. Any information you share with the doctor will not be revealed to your mother without your consent.


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