Teens who have frequent migraine headaches that do not respond to other treatments may be helped by surgery that releases trigger points, according to a new study. The surgery is actually one of several plastic surgery procedures on the head or face that decompress a nerve or release a trigger point that is believed to cause the migraines.
The study was done on 14 teens who underwent surgery. All the teens had chronic and frequent migraines that did not respond to medications. They were followed for an average of 3 years after their surgery. Five of the teens were free of migraines after the surgery. One teen still had the same number of migraines as before, but they were less intense and lasted less time. The rest of the teens had a decrease in the number and severity of their migraines. The average headache frequency in the group went down from 25 per month to 5 per month.
The surgeries were done by Dr. Bahman Guyruon, a plastic surgeon in Cleveland and lead author on the study. He has been doing similar surgeries on adults with frequent migraines since 2000, which is when he noted that some patients who had undergone cosmetic facial surgery had some relief from their migraines. The surgery performed depends on where the trigger site for the migraine is located, which varies from person to person. It might involve surgery inside the nose, on the forehead, or elsewhere on the head.
Some teens naturally stop having frequent migraines as they reach adulthood, which means that they should be carefully screened before surgery. Surgery should only be used if there is a history in the family of migraines that continue into adulthood, the study noted.
Migraine surgery is controversial. The study, published in the journal Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, does not have a control group. The American Headache has urged caution about the procedure.