Home > Migraines > Can Surgery Relieve Migraine?

Can Surgery Relieve Migraine?

By: Kathryn Senior PhD - Updated: 3 Apr 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Migraine Migraines Headache Headaches

An American plastic surgeon is claiming to have found a surgical treatment that can relieve severe migraines. The work of Bahman Guyuron who is a Clinical Professor of Plastic Surgery in Cleveland, Ohio at the Case Western Reserve University has been profiled on a news channel in the USA and, on first look, seems to be a promising treatment. However, his methods have not been accepted by mainstream medicine. Is this because the method doesn’t actually work, or is it because neurosurgeons just don’t trust a plastic surgeon to have devised a useful treatment?

Surgery for Migraine

Dr Guyuron’s technique involves making fairly superficial cuts into the muscle and nerves that take messages from the surface of the head into the brain, where they are perceived as pain. He has explained that he discovered that these types of incisions could relieve migraine totally by accident when doing face lifts and other cosmetic surgery. Patients who had undergone a face lift that included a brow lift, where the skin over the forehead was separated from the underlying tissue, reported a dramatic improvement in their migraine symptoms.

The improvement rates that he claims are extremely high – over 90 per cent of people who have the surgery say they their migraines are significantly less troublesome. The programme on NewsChannel5 carried plenty of testimonials from former migraine sufferers who were delighted with the results of their surgery. Around three quarters of Dr Guyuron’s patients say that they have been completely migraine free since having the surgery.

Evidence that Surgery Helps Migraine

Dr Guyuron has been perfecting the technique for some time. In 2001, the British science magazine, New Scientist, reported the results of his small observation trial of his forehead surgery. In total, the report included data from 300 of his patients who had been given a face lift. Thirty-nine of them had suffered from severe migraines before their facelift and thirty-one of them reported that their headaches never returned after the operation. Half said they noticed great improvements while the other half said they never had another migraine after the surgery.

Dr Guyuron’s explanation also seems convincing. He says that the forehead lift removes a muscle called the corrugator supercilli, which is the muscle that we use to be able to frown. Cutting this muscle so that it cannot work anymore eases the frown lines on the forehead, and is an important part of the forehead lift. While there are many things that will trigger a migraine, the underlying mechanism that leads to pain involves the trigeminal nerves, which suffer local inflammation. These trigeminal nerves pass through to the brain through this very muscle.

Dr Guyuron thinks that cutting the muscle makes it less likely that the nerves passing through the area get put under pressure, so the migraine never starts.

Finding Out Which Migraines Will Respond

One of the most convincing parts about the claims of Dr Guyuron is that fact that he pre-tests patients to see if they will benefit from the surgery. He does this by injecting Botox, the oft-used cosmetic surgery drug, to paralyse the corrugator supercilli muscle. This has the same effect as surgery to cut the muscle, but it is only temporary. However, it does provide a window to examine the effect that the muscle has on the migraines of individual sufferers. If the Botox treatment cures their migraines for 3-4 months, and then they return, the surgery to actually cut the muscle can be done as a follow up to permanently cure the migraines. The operation is very short and needs only a 2 centimetre incision and takes about half an hour.

Many doctors would like to see larger trials to make sure the technique does actually work but the rationale behind it and the evidence available so far does make it look like a very promising new migraine treatment.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • bea
    Re: Scalp Pain: What Causes It?
    I have being having pain on the middle part of my head and when it comes I get dizzy pls what could be the cause and what can I…
    10 April 2017
  • Mumof3
    Re: Headache With Pins and Needles: Is This Serious?
    I have pins and needles beneath my feet, it has been there for three days now- and hasn't gone away.…
    25 March 2017
  • Ms. Haider
    Re: Headaches and Eyesight
    I wear soft contact lenses in the day time and take them out only when I'm ready to sleep. Even then if the contacts are out and I close…
    12 March 2017
  • Stassie
    Re: Migraine Classification
    My daughter has been diagnosed with migraine as she has most of the symptoms, so her neurologist said it was a classic one; He prescribed…
    10 March 2017
  • Alexandra
    Re: Headaches After Head Injuries
    I had hit ny head on a table and got a headache and it was getting worse so i went home, in the car i had passes out and my mom…
    10 March 2017
  • Alleycat
    Re: Headaches During The Night
    I have started walking with a headache about an hour after falling asleep.This happens at night or if I am sleeping during the day.…
    10 March 2017
  • Jad
    Re: Headaches and Iron Deficiency
    For the last year I've been getting shooting pains up and down the left side of my head which was diagnosed as trigeminal…
    8 March 2017
  • Stassie
    Re: Headaches Caused by Tensions and Stress
    Hi, My daughter, 16, has been diagnosed with having tension headaches, (via CAT scan and MRI) when she was 11. Since…
    7 March 2017
  • DUNK
    Re: Scalp Pain: What Causes It?
    I have suffered severe eye, scalp, jaw pain for 5 years. The pain has been so bad I have thought about suicide more than once. The…
    6 March 2017
  • "common-cold antenna
    Re: Scalp Pain: What Causes It?
    I've had this pain on my scalp in approximately the same area for a long time ( about 26yrs ). It happens just before I get a bout…
    26 February 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the HeadacheExpert website. Please read our Disclaimer.