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Plastic Surgery to Ease Migraine

Surgically deactivating trigger sites reduced or eliminated migraine headaches in the majority of patients enrolled in a small study reported in the journal Plastic Reconstructive Surgery. The surgery, which is similar to a facelift, was pioneered by Bahman Guyuron, MD, a plastic surgeon and the lead author of the study.

Prior to the surgery, study participants received Botox® injections to confirm trigger sites in the forehead, temples and the back of the head. Patients who had relief from the injections were then offered the surgery, which “deactivated” the trigger areas. After five years, 69 of 79 patients who received the surgery (88%) experienced a positive response. Twenty (29%) reported complete elimination of migraine headaches, 41 (59%) noticed a significant decrease and 8 (11%) experienced no significant change.

“Based on the 5 year follow-up data, there is strong evidence that surgical manipulation of one or more migraine trigger sites can successfully eliminate or reduce the frequency, duration, and intensity of migraine headache in a lasting manner,” the study authors wrote.

“This surgical procedure is still highly controversial in spite of the success rate in the reported study,” noted Arthur Elkind, MD, director of the Elkind Headache Center in Mount Vernon, NY, and president of the NHF board of directors. “It is difficult to have a scientifically controlled group when the treated individuals are subjected to an invasive procedure. A large double-blind study with a sham procedure is still needed and the patients will need to be evaluated by another physician who is not aware of the treatment given.”

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