Published January 15, 2021 By Adam Lowenstein

Migrane HeadacheAs disabling as migraine headaches can be, it is a condition that people get used to over time. This may sound odd. How can one get used to debilitating headaches? It isn’t that migraines lose their power; it’s simply that people know the pain they know. As a result of this familiarity, there can be some degree of hesitancy to undergo migraine surgery. Will the procedure be successful? Will recovery be uncomfortable or lengthy? Here, we discuss what to expect after migraine surgery.

The migraine surgery procedure is minimally invasive. It is not brain surgery. It is a conservative procedure that focuses on specific nerves. Patients can expect to go home shortly after their procedure but will need to be driven by a loved one because they will likely be groggy from medication. Once at home, patients should rest comfortably for the remainder of the day.

While minor variations may occur between patients, recovery from migraine surgery is generally predictable.

The process involves:

  • Bruising and swelling. These normal side effects occur anytime the skin is punctured or nicked. After surgery, swelling and bruising typically resolve over two weeks. However, minor inflammation could persist for a few months or may flare up several weeks after surgery. In some instances, an inflammation flare-up could coincide with a headache. This does not mean the surgery did not work. Discomfort should be temporary and manageable with oral or topical medication.
  • Soreness or numbness. It is not uncommon for migraine surgery patients to experience mild to moderate soreness at the back of the neck. The area behind the ears or around the temples could feel numb. These side effects usually disappear after a week.

After migraine surgery, patients should:

  • Prioritize sleep. Due to side effects like inflammation and soreness, some patients have difficulty sleeping in their normal position. Pain medications can help with this, but it may also be necessary to find a new sleep position for a short time. To manage recovery well, patients may need to go to bed earlier or allow short naps during the day.
  • Avoid strenuous activity. Recovery from migraine surgery doesn’t typically prevent people from their normal activities, as long as they are light. Strenuous exercise, heavy lifting, and other types of major physical exertion should be avoided for approximately three weeks.

Patients who undergo migraine surgery can expect to follow up with Dr. Lowenstein to monitor their recovery progress. The timing of follow-ups may vary slightly from one patient to another. Typically, the first visit occurs within a week of surgery. Another may occur one week after the first. A final follow-up may take place six weeks after the procedure.

Migraine surgery has successfully eradicated ongoing pain for many people. To learn more about this procedure, call 805.969.9004, and schedule a consultation at our Santa Barbara practice.


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