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Surgical Management of Migraine Headaches

Sufferers of migraines understand that they are more than just headaches. Chronic migraines are debilitating, and they genuinely interfere with one’s quality of life.

Many individuals with migraines suffer in silence because few migraine treatments provide lasting results. Migraine surgery is one of the few options that may be able to provide permanent relief from migraines. This surgery decompresses the peripheral sensory nerves around the head and face through small incisions to reduce the frequency, severity, and duration of migraine headaches.

Candidates for Surgical Management of Migraine Headaches

Candidates for the surgical management of migraine headaches experience chronic migraines, which typically means 15 or more headache days a month. They have been diagnosed with the condition by a neurologist or headache specialist and have not experienced relief from other treatment options. Candidates should be in good overall health and have realistic expectations of their results.

Treatment Options

Common headaches are usually caused by tension between the head and neck. Migraines are caused by genetics, certain foods, weather changes, anxiety, and stress. Migraine symptoms include severe pain, increased sensitivity to light or noise, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, dizziness, distorted vision, and loss of appetite.

While there are many triggers for migraine headaches, they are usually associated with the compression of sensory nerves around the head. During surgery, the compression points are released, alleviating the triggers and leading to a decrease in migraine duration or severity.

While individuals can have migraine trigger sites anywhere, the most common types of migraines are:

  • Frontal: Migraine pain develops above your eyes and forehead
  • Temporal: Migraine pain develops behind the temples or eyes
  • Rhinogenic: Migraine pain develops inside the nose or central face and extends behind the ears
  • Occipital: Migraine pain develops on the back of your head, upper neck or shoulders, and radiates across the skull and behind your eyes or ears

Procedure Details

Migraine surgery is an outpatient procedure that can be performed under local or general anesthesia. The procedure usually takes one to two hours, but it may take longer if there are multiple trigger sites to address.

Incisions are made discreetly in the hairline or in the crease of the upper eyelid depending on where the trigger is.

The migraine-causing nerves are decompressed (meaning that the pressure points are released to free the nerves), and the incisions are closed with sutures.

This procedure is performed on the nerves under the skin, not within the brain; therefore, there is no removal or cutting of bone.

Recovery and Results

Your recovery will vary significantly depending on the location of your trigger site(s). Many patients experience slight bruising and swelling that may take up to a few weeks to resolve. Most patients return to work and their normal activities at this time, but strenuous activity should be avoided for up to four weeks.

Complications following migraine surgery are rare; however, risks are present. These include bleeding, nerve injuries, poor wound healing, and failure to reduce the headaches.

While there is no guarantee that this surgery will alleviate your migraines, studies show that roughly 80 percent of patients have experienced improvement in the frequency, intensity, and duration of migraines, with some showing total relief from their headaches.

Additionally, relief from migraines around the eyes may also improve the appearance of wrinkles and sagging eyebrows.

Choosing Your Surgeon

Choosing the surgeon who will help alleviate the migraines that are stopping you from living your life is one of the most significant decisions you can make. Dr. Jindal and Dr. Batra at Coastal Plastic Surgeons are board-certified plastic surgeons who have been practicing and improving their patients’ quality of life for years. Their experience and dedication to patient comfort and safety have made them locally and internationally respected.

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