Published May 15, 2020 By Adam Lowenstein

It isn’t difficult to identify the symptoms of a migraine. Those who experience these headaches often have to retreat to dark spaces in an attempt to manage excruciating pain coupled with vision problems, nausea, or a host of other symptoms. One of the prominent indications of a migraine besides the degree of pain is the poor response that many people get from conventional headache medication. When medication does not provide sufficient relief, there is value in considering migraine surgery.

What Makes Someone a Good Candidate for Migraine Surgery

A surgical approach is not right for every person who suffers migraines, nor is it necessary in every situation. Some people can manage their headaches well with prescribed medication and oversight from their primary care physician. To understand where migraine surgery fits into the treatment puzzle, we have to look at the reason migraines may occur in the first place.

Migraines occur in the brain but get triggered by an external influence. Triggers activate certain sensory nerves, resulting in various symptoms. The premise of migraine surgery is to locate these trigger sites and deactivate them. Doing so has been shown to significantly decrease the intensity, duration, and frequency of migraines, even more than the newest CGRP medications.

Migraine Surgery and Recovery

A surgical approach to long-term migraine relief involves the release of certain sensory nerves from surrounding tissue that may be compressing them. The affected sensory nerves can be found by administering diagnostic nerve blocks or Botox. The outpatient migraine surgery may take 1 to 3 hours depending on the number of trigger sites. Small drains may be placed at the surgical site by some surgeons, though Dr. Lowenstein’s technique does not utilize drains. If your surgeon does use drains, these may be removed as early as the day after surgery, or sometimes a few days later, depending on fluid drainage.

Patients can expect mild discomfort after their procedure, such as soreness at the back of the neck. There is also a risk of post-surgical migraine symptoms. To support comfort, prescription medication should be taken as directed upon discharge from the surgical center. Patients who undergo migraine surgery often return to work in one to two weeks. Physical activity is moderately restricted for approximately 3 weeks. Follow-up visits are scheduled periodically to observe the progress of improvement.

We understand the detrimental effects that migraines can have on quality of life. To learn more about migraine surgery and find out if you are a good candidate for this procedure, call our Santa Barbara or Denver Migraine Surgery Center.  Both can be reached at 805.969.9004.

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