Plastic Surgery for Migraine Headaches?

Many migraine sufferers may not be aware that there are plastic surgeries available that can often alleviate their symptoms. Plastic surgery for migraines is becoming increasingly common as men and women seek these treatments after all other strategies have failed, according to a recent article in the Boston Globe.

What is a Migraine?

Migraines are most commonly associated with headache, but can also include nausea, visual disturbances, and other neurological symptoms. Roughly 10 percent of the US population suffers from migraines, and three times more women are affected than men.

As an example, the Globe article profiles Debra Haining, a 57-year-old migraine sufferer who underwent surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital after 5 years of excruciating migraine symptoms:
“She was forced to spend nearly every day in bed with the curtains drawn. She could not tolerate light, smell, or sound. Typically she rose only to see her 12-year-old son off to school in the morning and in the afternoon when he returned. Until recently, she had an ice pack to her head and could not drive a car.”

After numerous interventions, including various medications, visits to 4 different pain clinics, and consultations with neurologists, Haining found a plastic surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital who regularly performs plastic surgery for migraine pain.

How Can Plastic Surgery Help Migraine Pain?

Migraines are often caused by compression on facial nerves. Plastic surgeries for migraine address the cause of the migraine by removing this pressure. Haining was treated with blepharoplasty, or eyelid surgery, which allowed her surgeon to alter the surrounding bone or soft tissue. Botox injections and brow lift surgery can also relieve the pressure that causes migraines.

The Globe reports that a study in  Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery found that nearly 85 percent of patients who underwent nerve decompression surgery experienced a significant reduction in migraine symptoms. Nearly 60 percent reported a complete elimination of pain.

Nowadays, Haining seems to be among the pain-free majority: “I spent the last two days enjoying the fact that I could dust the house and do laundry…. I’m grateful for every day.”

(Image source: Sasha Wolff, Wikimedia Commons)

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