What is a migraine? Why migraine happens. Who gets migraines? Treating migraines.

Surgery for Migraines

In 2009 CNN Health reported that facial surgery could provide a cure for migraines. The surgery is specialized, targeting and removing small pieces of nerve tissue or migraine-triggering muscles.

"Other migraine treatments either temporarily prevent symptoms or they may reduce the symptoms after the migraine headaches start," Bahman Guyuron, M.D., a professor at the University Hospitals of Cleveland and Case Western Reserve University is quoted as telling CNN. He went on to say that the surgery is basically a cure permanently fixing the problem of migraine attacks in some people.

More About the Study

Guyuron's study was published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. The doctor and his team specifically recruited participants who suffered from migraines concentrated in the front, side or back of the head. The migraine sufferers were then given an injection of Botox into trigger points to see if it helped. The 75 patients who experienced relief were then randomly divided into two surgical groups to be operated on after the Botox wore off.

The first group had face-lifting surgery where nerves and muscle tissue in the area of the migraines were removed. To help with face, head and neck shaping, fat or muscle was put in the area the tissue was removed to fill it up. The second group had a fake surgery where incisions and stitches were done, but no muscles or nerves were removed.

Guyuron's team followed up for a year after the procedure. Fifty-seven percent of those who had the surgery reported they no longer experienced any more migraine attacks. Four percent of those who had the fake surgery reported the same results. Most (84 percent) of those who had the surgery reported less intense migraine pain. Fifty-eight percent of the fake-surgery group reported the same.

The study showed limited negative side effects from the surgery. Guyuron reported that one had persistent numbness of the forehead. There were 19 patients who had tissue removed from the side of their heads. Ten of those patients experienced what appeared to be permanent but slight hollowing in the temple area.

Advantages of the Surgery

In a news release, Guyuron said that those who had the surgery paid less in migraine medications for the year after the procedure was done. On average, the participants paid $7,612 a year on migraine medications before the surgery. This cost dropped to $925 after the surgery. The participants who had the real surgery also had 73 percent fewer sick days than those from the fake surgery group.

Guyuron considers the surgery promising but acknowledges that more testing and longer follow-up is required before it becomes a common procedure.