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Cosmetic Surgery May Also Treat Migraines

Study Shows Surgery to Get Rid of Wrinkles Has Benefits for Migraine Relief

Treating Irritated Nerves continued...

“Often when people have forehead migraine headaches, they have very strong frowning muscles,” Guyuron says.

In those patients, removing the corrugator muscle in the forehead area near the eyes, which may be irritating nerves in that area, may offer relief from recurrent headaches.

“He thought, well, maybe this is like carpal tunnel syndrome of the head instead of the hand,” says Jeffrey Janis, MD, a plastic surgeon and associate professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, who trained with Guyuron and also performs the surgery.

“You have nerves that are being irritated or compressed or entrapped by the muscle, and by taking away the muscle and it doesn’t grow back then maybe you’re decompressing it just the same as you would do in a carpal tunnel release,” Janis says.

Patients may also end up with fewer wrinkles. “For those patients, commonly the aesthetic outcome is pleasing. They just look like they’re less angry or are less serious,” Guyuron says.

Treatment of Last Resort

Still, experts say surgery for migraines is probably only a good idea for patients who’ve tried less invasive measures first.

“The type of patients who usually are treated with this approach usually have very severe, difficult to control migraines,” Janis says. “They’ve seen a whole host of neurologists. They’ve tried a pharmacy full of medications, most of which have side effects that are undesirable. Most of my patients have also tried alternative forms of therapy like menthol patches, electrical stimulation, acupuncture.”

And he cautions that while the surgery does seem to help many patients who have it, it’s not foolproof.

“There is a failure rate to the surgery, so it doesn’t work in 100% of people and we don’t know exactly why yet,” he says.

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