Severe migraines are quite common among Americans, with more than 30 million people suffering from them each year.
If you are one of those people, you already know how painful migraine headaches can be and how truly miserable they can make you feel.
As such, if you are like most other migraine sufferers, you will do almost anything to get your headaches under control.
Let's look at how the procedure works, possible outcomes and possible complications of this migraine surgery.
Surgery for migraine headaches, now known as decompression surgery, was accidentally discovered by a plastic surgeon named Bahman Guyuron.
Guyuron noticed that many of his clients reported migraine relief after having cosmetic brow lift surgery. Later research showed that migraine relief is possible because the supra-orbital nerve is released during brow lift surgery.
Common trigger areas for migraines are the forehead, the area just behind the eyes, the nasal region and the back of the head or neck.
The goal of decompression surgery is to alleviate migraine-causing nerves in these trigger areas.
With that said, it must first be determined which muscles are causing a patient's migraines.
As such, before undergoing surgery, Botox injections are required to locate these muscles. Decompression surgery is quite simple and is performed under general anesthesia as an outpatient procedure.
If the migraine headache occurs in the temple area, the trigeminal nerve in the forehead is decompressed. For migraines that originate in the back of the head or neck, known as occipital migraines, peripheral nerves and a small muscle in this region are decompressed.
Finally, for those migraines that are caused by trigger points behind the eyes or in the nasal region, septoplasty is required. Septoplasty repositions the partition between the nasal cavities.
This is how nerve decompression surgery works in layman's terms. A small incision is made in the skin to identify the nerve. Once the nerve has been located, doctors use surgical techniques to increase the nerve tunnels.
Increasing these tunnels decreases the pressure on the nerve, which allows them to function better and alleviates pain.
The supra-orbital nerve is a nerve in the forehead. When doctors would perform plastic surgery on eye brows, they would unintentionally use techniques that would increase the nerve tunnels and decrease the pressure on the supra-orbital nerve.
This is how nerve decompression surgery was first discovered.
A septoplasty is a surgery which corrects the nostrils. It's not a fake nose implant. It can be done using natural procedures. The recovery period can take longer for this type of surgery.
Following this type of migraine surgery, there is usually some slight swelling and bruising. However, these conditions usually last for only a couple of weeks.
In fact, most people return to their normal routines within a few days. The outcomes of decompression surgery are quite pleasing.
Studies have shown that decompression surgery can significantly reduce the intensity, frequency and duration of migraine headaches. Success rates are very impressive.
About 57 percent of patients report that their migraine symptoms are completely eliminated. Seventy to 90 percent say their migraines are completely gone or have greatly reduced in intensity, duration and frequency.
Following decompression surgery, many patients notice improvement in the physical appearance of their foreheads. In some cases, decompression surgery can eliminate wrinkles or frown lines or even reduce sagging eyebrows.
Just as with any other medical procedure, patients may experience complications after decompression surgery. Nevertheless, any complications that a patient may experience are typically only temporary and quite minor.
Some of these conditions include numbness, incomplete migraine relief, loss of motor or sensory function (neurapraxia), bleeding or nerve injury.
Although nerve decompression surgery is a simple procedure that offers a vast array of benefits, it is always best to consult with a licensed physician before deciding to have the surgery.
A doctor can determine your eligibility or help you prepare for the surgery and its outcomes.
Julian Kahn works at the Migraine Relief Center. They offer Botox injections for migraines, and offer migraine surgery or surgeries that reduce the frequency and intensity of migraine headache attacks.