Smoking marijuana should have little to no effect on fresh, healing, and healed body modifications assuming that there isn't direct exposure, and you aren't so constantly stoned that you don't take care of the modification. However, smoking marijuana immediately before or during a modification procedure is not recommended as it may increase your level of discomfort and pain, and may make it difficult for you to sit still for lengthy procedures such as tattooing. Very few reputable artists will work on anyone under the influence of any drug.
While it's not everyone's experience (a percentage of people feel the exact opposite), this reader describes his experiences getting tattooed after smoking a joint:
- ... decided to 'calm me down,' so he had me smoke a joint before he did anything on me. I watched him set up his machine, then settled down to become tattooed. I was so excited!
- Oh My Dear God, it hurt!
- Halfway through, probably 15 to 20 minutes into the experience, I broke down crying, made him stop, and ran out the front door for air. I felt like I was going to throw up and implode all of my bodily functions at once. I started hyper-ventilating, but made myself calm down.
- His girlfriend brought me some water, and made me let him get back to work. Fuck, I was not ready. But, once again, I bit my lip and tried not to let it get to me. I didn't want to move any way; I was scared I would cause him to fuck up my tattoo. By the time I was ready to make him quit again, he was done.
I should also note that smoking pot heavily after a fresh oral piercing such as a tongue piercing, has been reported to greatly increase swelling in some individuals. It should also be noted that if you've got a fresh oral piercing, you shouldn't be sharing joints or pipes with others.
That said, like all drugs, the responses people have are varied. Most of the people we talked to reported increased pain from marijuana:
- I inked my lil bro, and he kinda lied about exactly how much he'd had to smoke (weed) — he said he'd had a spliff in the morning and as it was like 4pm I thought nothing of it (he's a total stoner). In truth, his one spliff was one hell of a session, as 20 minutes into the tattoo he was heavily sweating and feeling sick... consequently he went on to pull a minor whine'n'moan like a small child for 4 hours!
Another person recounts similar problems:
- When I use to smoke bud and then get pierced, the pain was worse then normal and I often started to black out (and yes, I did eat before I got pierced) to heal a piercing when I smoked bud was very difficult, the piercings seemed to stay forever infected or irritated. Now that I have been drug free for almost a year I have never had a problem healing any of my latest piercing and some even heal far ahead of time, and are practically painless.
However, not everyone agrees—many people also find that pot increases rather than lowers their tolerance for pain:
- My 'friend' has been mildly stoned during some of her piercings (play piercing and permanent, by self and others) and didn't find it unpleasant at all. She felt calmer, fully aware of what was about to happen but more accepting of it — not as hyped up by either fear OR false courage. The pain was maybe a little dulled ... or maybe just less scary. Come to think of it, I've also had a few drinks before some play-piercing sessions and had no problem with that, either. Alcohol does increase bleeding, though (which isn't always a bad thing). The key is to recognize that you'll be under stress and to be honest about your limits.
- The one time, I smoked it before getting tattooed; it actually helped me relax and get into my breathing very easy. It "distracted" me from the pain, rather than dulling the pain like Vicoden did.
- I've been both tattooed and pierced after smoking marijuana, and I can say that during both the initial process and subsequent stretching of piercings, pot probably increases my tolerance for pain two, if not threefold. On one occasion, I stretched my septum after taking a couple of very healthy pipe hits and did not so much as flinch; it induced far less discomfort than usual.
It may be as simple as the marijuana helping the modifiee to relax — after all, a relaxed person will perceive pain as far less traumatic:
- I dont see any thing wrong with smoking herb and getting ink done. I can sit back and relax more, and just let the artist do their work. I haven't felt any more pain while high geting ink done.
Several readers also wrote us to point out that the stress that fresh modifications put on your body can greatly amplify the effects of marijuana taken afterwards:
- Smoking pot after getting tattooed isn't that good either. At least for me. After one bong hit, I was higher than I've ever been off pot before. Then I had to drive home and didn't even notice that some one had keyed my car all the way down to the metal.
- A friend of mine once got his frenum pierced and like an hour after he got it done we came back to my house and lit a joint of regular marijuana. Halfway to the end of it, the guy faints and falls straight to the floor. Fucking scary. Our only explanation was that he still had an endorphin rush or something and that it didn't mix so well with the weed.
Finally, there are of course other "strange side-effects" in terms of body modification, as one reader describes:
- I used to smoke a lot of pot, and when I was high for days, my piercings started to fuck with my head. I felt unbalanced (couple piercings in one ear and not the other, etc.) and ended up removing a couple!