Those who live with migraines know they are not simply headaches. The associated symptoms are often debilitating and can last anywhere from hours to days. People may suffer from dizziness, nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity, weakness, and more alongside severe pain. Depending on the frequency of episodes, their work, relationships, and leisure may become too difficult to manage and could begin to deteriorate. Anticipation of the next migraine can also lead to a withdrawal from daily activities, anxiety, and an overall decrease in quality of life.
Many people never seek treatment, or the treatment they do seek is ineffective. For this reason, migraines are still the second most disabling condition worldwide. Most are unaware of the migraine surgery option or that it is even available to them in their area. Migraine surgery is quick and minimally invasive. The procedure identifies each patient’s trigger point(s) and decompresses or releases the craniofacial nerves entrapped by surrounding structures such as muscle or bone.
Migraine Surgery Discovered
Understanding the discovery of this technique can offer comfort to those who have suffered through the highs and lows of trying new treatments that have provided minimal or no results.
The possibility of migraine surgery was discovered in 1999 when Dr. Bahman Guyuron, a plastic surgeon, started receiving reports from patients that their migraines had decreased in severity and frequency after undergoing forehead lifts. Some reported a complete cessation altogether. Dr. Guyuron began to further study the association between improvement of migraines and the cosmetic procedure he was performing. He found that among his forehead lift patients, 39 had experienced migraines prior to their cosmetic surgery. Of those 39 people, 31 of them experienced significant improvement from their migraines following a forehead lift.
Through two decades of research and experience, including multiple peer-reviewed publications, the surgical procedure has been fine-tuned and shared with qualified migraine surgeons who were interested in learning about the groundbreaking surgical procedures. Sharing the migraine surgery method has allowed patients to undergo the technique by a skilled surgeon across the world.
Trigger Sites for Migraines
Through his research, Dr. Guyuron determined that there were four main trigger sites where facial sensory nerves become irritated by surrounding structures and tissues. These areas are the forehead (frontal), back of the head (occipital), temple (temporal), and behind the eyes (nasal) trigger points. Each patient may have just a single trigger or a combination of these trigger sites. In average, each patient has 2-3 trigger sites.
A qualified migraine surgeon who understands the history and procedural requirements could identify what someone’s trigger site/sites might be, and tailor a surgery specific to their needs. Identifying individual trigger points is mainly through a detailed history which is obtained by a headache specialist; and other modalities like CT scans, ultrasound Doppler, and nerve block or Botox injections that can also help confirm trigger site/sites in some patients. Because each patient is unique, it is important to meet with trained professionals to ascertain the offending nerves.
Outcome of Migraine Surgery
In Dr. Guyuron’s study, nearly 90 percent of patients who underwent migraine or trigger site deactivation surgery reported at least a 50 percent decline in migraine symptoms. With this technique, many migraine sufferers have begun to get their lives back. This procedure is not suitable for everyone but may be right for patients who have tried non-operative treatments without success. A physician trained in migraine surgery, in collaboration with headache specialist, could help migraine headache sufferers determine the best course of action for their specific ailment. Place a call to our San Diego or Cleveland office to learn more about migraine surgery from Dr. Guyuron, along with Dr. Totonchi and Dr. Ansari.