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Migraines & Headaches Health Center

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Cosmetic Eye Procedure May Ease Migraines

Eyelid surgery may help treat severe headaches, but not everyone's convinced

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Tessler said patients have to be selected carefully because the surgery is meant for those whose migraines are caused by a compression of nerves as they exit the skull.

"You release the nerve and you remove the irritation," Tessler said.

In his study, the average number of headache days reported by patients declined from 18.5 a month on average to fewer than four a month one year after the surgery.

"There have been no major complications," he said. "Every patient will have some numbness because the nerve is in shock." That numbness usually resolves, but a small amount may remain, he said. His patients tell him it's a small price to pay for migraine relief.

The fees for the surgery, done as a cosmetic procedure, vary by doctor and region of the country. According to the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons, the average physician fee is about $3,000. The fee does not include any charges for the facility and anesthesia.

Tessler said the surgery, sometimes covered by insurance, takes about three hours. An incision is made in the upper eyelid to get to the specific nerves and release them. "It [also] takes away the bulge of the eyelid," he said, giving a more youthful look.

Acknowledging the small study size, Tessler said more research is needed. None of the researchers disclosed financial interests in any of the products, devices or drugs discussed in the study.

Martin also believes more study is needed. This technique is "theoretically plausible, but not proven," he said. "Most neurologists and headache doctors don't think the evidence is sufficient to recommend this surgery at this time."

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