Eyelid Surgery for Migraine Headaches


A new study suggests that a well-known cosmetic procedure just might be the next tool to help those who suffer from chronic migraine headaches. Eyelid surgery, also known as blepharoplasty, used to access and release key nerves, was recently found to be about 90% effective in relieving symptoms.

As reported in Science Daily, Dr. Oren Tessler, a plastic surgeon from Louisiana State University, headed the group of doctors who operated on 35 men and women. All patients suffered migraine headaches triggered by nerve compression. Half the participants reported their migraines were completely eliminated, around 20% found that most of their symptoms were relieved, and about a third said between 50 and 80% of their symptoms were banished.

Easing migraines by releasing compressed nerves is not a new idea. The FDA approved BOTOX® injections to treat these crippling headaches a few years ago. This method has been found to be effective for many, but results are temporary. Surgery is also performed to decompress the nerves, but until now, the strategy has been to create incisions along the scalp and use an endoscope to travel down the forehead.

Forehead surgery is not suitable for all patients, noted the team led by Dr. Tessler, and not all surgeons are accustomed to using endoscopes. The plastic surgeons found that for the right patient, accessing nerves through the upper eyelids was just as effective as the forehead approach. And, patients can elect to have droopy lids lifted at the same time, a very popular way to rejuvenate the appearance.

According to the American Migraine Foundation, about 12% of the U.S. population suffers from migraines. About 3% of the population has migraines that are considered chronic, meaning they have at least 15 headache days per month for six months or longer. The Foundation estimates that the cost of medical care plus indirect costs—primarily lost productivity—impact the economy to the tune of more than $20 billion annually.

Advocating for additional funding for research, the American Migraine Foundation notes that although the disorder has a very significant effect on individuals and the country, migraine headaches are poorly understood. Not only that, the organization says they are under diagnosed and treatment is often inadequate.

The new study led by Dr. Tessler is encouraging. Although the subject group was small, the findings make sense given results achieved by releasing nerves via other methods. For patients showing the first signs of aging, combination eyelid surgery/migraine headache treatment may be especially attractive. And it may very well be that even patients who aren’t bothered by droopy upper eyelids may be good candidates for this new approach. When provided by an experienced plastic or oculoplastic surgeon, eyelid surgery is safe and involves a smooth recovery.

Obviously, additional research is needed on this new method of treating migraines. Plastic surgeons who perform eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty) [/url] and migraine headache sufferers are eager to learn more.
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New York Plastic Surgeon