Could Cosmetic Surgery Treat Migraines?

Authored By Cassileth Plastic Surgery

As the world’s third-most prevalent illness, migraines force more than 1 billion people worldwide to endure throbbing headaches, often in tandem with distorted vision and nausea. Among the effective remedies for this condition is cosmetic surgery, first discovered by Bahman Guyuron, MD who noted sustained migraine relief among patients who underwent a cosmetic brow-lift procedure. Researched defended his observations: release of the supraorbital nerve — a common step during the brow-lift procedure — contributed to improvement among migraine sufferers.

Chronic migraines can damage a person’s daily agenda and sense of self-confidence. They can compromise physical, emotional, and mental health, while inflicting serious pain that often lasts for hours or even days. Thankfully, plastic surgery offers proven relief for some types of migraines and may serve as a viable treatment option for patients who meet certain conditions.

What Types of Plastic Surgery or Cosmetic Treatments Are There for Migraines?

Migraine relief certainly isn’t the first thing people think of when they hear “plastic surgery.” More commonly, plastic and cosmetic treatments inspire the thought of simple, safe enhancements to the body: liposuction for fat removal, tummy tucks to flatten the midsection, or breast enhancements that optimize breast shape and volume. Though lesser-known, procedures performed for migraine treatment — through BOTOX® or surgery — can help people suffering from migraines take concrete steps toward recovery.

Botox Treatment for Migraines

BOTOX® treatments can accomplish far more than smoothing wrinkles for younger-looking skin. These injections can also help address migraines, offering temporary relief from punishing headaches, nausea, dizziness, and other accompanying side effects.

While patients experience relief from migraines from BOTOX® treatments, the results are temporary. Regular injections are required to extend the preventative, migraine-clearing effects of these treatments. For maximum benefits, injections should be received every three-to-four months.

Plastic Surgery for Migraines

Plastic surgery is also a verified option for people who experience migraines. Brow lifts, the specific type of cosmetic surgery that can offer migraine relief, raise the eyebrows and eyelids to enhance appearance, open the eyes, and reduce chronic headaches. Brow lifts differ from facelift surgery, which may include a brow lift, upper eyelid surgery, and fat grafting to smooth fill wrinkles, and rejuvenate the face.

Although over time, the effects of a brow lift will begin to fade with normal aging;  the migraine-relieving effects are felt for extended periods. More permanently effective than BOTOX® injections for migraines, brow lifts can enhance facial appearance and mute painful headaches effects for years after the surgery itself, without the need for regular boosters.

What Types of Migraines Does Plastic Surgery Treat?

From stress to medication to changes in weather, hormone levels, and sleep patterns, migraines have known and unknown causes. While plastic surgery is a valid treatment option for many people who suffer from migraines, it won’t work for everyone. Individuals with migraines caused by hormone shifts may not benefit from a brow lift, while those with tension migraines might benefit from the same procedure.

The Four Trigger Points of Migraines

For some, migraines can originate from four trigger points. Plastic surgery can help address each trigger point individually, removing frown muscles, facial nerves, and muscle turbinates responsible for causing or worsening migraine symptoms. Treatment for each trigger point is unique, depending on the migraine’s source and intensity:

  • Forehead migraines cause pain above the eyes. These migraines aren’t typically accompanied by nausea or other side effects and are commonly caused by stressful reactions. Reduce forehead migraine symptoms through stress-relieving activities like hot showers, massages, and low-impact exercise. Plastic surgery helps remove frown muscles for symptom relief.
  • Temple migraines can mean dull, squeezing pain in and around the temples, often caused by blood vessels or surrounding muscles. Temple migraines can be accompanied by fatigue, nausea, congestion, even vomiting. Plastic surgery helps by removing a portion of the facial nerve around the temples.
  • Neck migraines often begin the back of the neck and expand until they cover one or both sides. Individuals who experience neck migraines often report neck stiffness and reduction in neck movement. A small portion of the muscle is replaced with fat during plastic surgery to prevent muscle from pinching nerves.
  • Nose migraines cause pain on one or both sides of the nose and are sometimes known as sinus headaches. Caused primarily by pain and pressure in the sinus area, nose migraines are relieved in plastic surgery when the septum is straightened, and part or all of the turbinates is removed.

Does Insurance Cover Plastic Surgery for Migraines?

Sometimes, insurance will cover plastic surgery specifically to address migraines. Many types of medical insurance have begun to cover this treatment, given its healing effects. If insurance will not cover some, or all, of the cost — which may depend on how many trigger points need to be addressed — shorter-term BOTOX® treatments may be available at more reasonable rates.

Be sure to consult with your medical insurance provider to determine the extent of migraine treatment coverage before pursuing plastic surgery as a viable option. Specific surgery providers may also offer discounts or benefits to patients seeking plastic surgery for migraines without the aid of sufficient medical insurance.

Is Plastic Surgery for Migraine Treatment Right for Me?

A more permanent treatment option for migraines, plastic surgery for migraine treatment has helped many patients enjoy life to a fuller degree. Recent studies indicate that plastic surgery for migraine treatment offers a favorable success rate, anywhere from 68% to 95%, depending on the individual study consulted.

Over-the-counter medications or general painkillers like aspirin and ibuprofen can offer a certain degree of relief from migraine symptoms; however, they can’t target the source of the pain like plastic surgery can. More powerful narcotics can be prescribed by medical professionals, though they’re often associated with compromising side effects and the possibility of unhealthy dependence. If you’re looking for the potential sustained relief from the harshest migraine symptoms, consider pursuing recovery through plastic surgery for migraine treatment.

Cassileth Plastic Surgery & Skin Care

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