Over 30 million Americans have been diagnosed with migraine headaches, and yet many have not found relief. If you suffer from the symptoms of severe headaches or migraines, our Jacksonville plastic surgery practice offers an outpatient treatment option that may be able to ease your pain.
Migraine headaches can significantly impact a person’s life – from their work to their personal lives. Many patients choose to treat migraine headache pain with medications, acupuncture, or massage. However, these methods of treatment are not effective for everyone. For patients who have not found relief from these treatment options, migraine surgery is an alternative that may work to completely and permanently eliminate pain.
Migraine surgery is designed to substantially reduce or relieve pain by targeting the pain’s source. In many cases, a patient’s migraine pain consistently stems from the same area. These sites of pain (peripheral trigger sites) can be located frontally (pain around the eyebrow/forehead), occipitally (pain at the base of the head/neck junction behind the ear) temporally (side of the scalp above or in front of the ear), or, less commonly, nasally.
Once the source of pain is identified, migraine surgery has been shown to be effective at reducing the frequency, severity, and duration of headache pain in a large majority of cases. After the procedure, some patients will find their migraine headaches have completely disappeared or are treated by over-the-counter medication.
What Is a Migraine?
A migraine is typically described as an intense, throbbing pain in the head, often on just one side. In many cases, a migraine may be accompanied by symptoms such as nausea and vomiting. Sound and light sensitivity may also be present during a migraine, and some people even experience temporary loss of vision. Migraine pain can occur in a number of areas in the head, but it often presents behind one eye, one ear, or in the temples. Individuals who suffer from migraines frequently experience extreme, debilitating pain for long periods—sometimes for hours or even days at a time.
The specific causes of migraines are still somewhat of a mystery, but researchers believe chemical imbalances in the brain and/or genetic factors, age, and gender may be contributors to the condition. Some indicators that have been reported to occur right before the onset of a migraine include hormonal changes, emotional stress/anxiety, alcohol/caffeine consumption, a change in the weather, ingestion of certain types of food, and other factors.
The symptoms of a migraine are often much more severe than a typical headache, and these conditions can have a significant impact on one’s daily life. Migraine treatment from our practice has helped many patients successfully address this concern and improve their livelihood.
Am I a Candidate for Migraine Surgery?
Potential candidates for surgical migraine treatment from Dr. Michael Fallucco first have their specific condition diagnosed by a neurologist or primary care physician. The International Headache Society offers guidelines for identifying the precise nature of a patient’s headaches, allowing Dr. Fallucco to determine the patient’s candidacy for treatment. Because not all headaches result from the same cause, not all patients suffering from headaches will be eligible candidates for this procedure.
Are There Different Types of Migraines?
While migraines can be classified in a variety of types, there are two major categories of the condition:
Migraine with Aura
Once typically referred to as “classical migraine,” a migraine with aura is one that is often accompanied by symptoms that affect vision. Individuals frequently see flashes, shapes, or lines, and may even lose vision for a brief period of time (often about 10 to 30 minutes). A migraine with aura can also involve tingling sensations in the arms and legs, and it can impact speech, taste, smell, and touch. Weakness or numbness, hearing odd noises or music, and confusion may also be present. Migraine with aura is less common than migraine without aura (described below), and often lasts no more than an hour.
Migraine without Aura
A migraine without aura is the most common type of migraine—in fact, it was once frequently referred to as a “common migraine.” Pulsating pain, typically on one side of the head, as well as nausea, vision changes, fatigue, and sensitivity to light, smell, and sound may accompany migraine without aura conditions. This type of migraine can last for long stretches of time (hours or even days) and recur throughout the year; in some cases, patients may experience them several times a week.
It’s important to note that there are many different subtypes of migraines, and some may even occur without the presence of a headache. Migraines can be very serious conditions, and they may also be indicative of other severe health problems. Individuals who believe they are experiencing any type of migraine should be examined by a doctor for diagnosis.
What Can I Expect Before Migraine Surgery?
Prior to the consultation process, we ask that all patients complete our migraine headache questionnaire, as well as compile medical records pertaining to previous headache treatments or diagnostic studies. Dr. Fallucco’s goal during the consultation is to locate the exact nerves that are causing headache pain. These nerves – or peripheral trigger sites – are often found using diagnostic injections of local anesthetic or BOTOX®, and some patients will experience immediate temporary pain relief. Once these trigger sites are identified, a treatment plan will be designed to meet your unique needs.
What Does Migraine Surgery Involve?
Migraine surgery is performed under general anesthesia administered by a board-certified anesthesiologist, and for nearly all patients, the surgery is an outpatient procedure. The treatment targets specific nerves in the head and neck and is designed to “deactivate” them, which releases the nerve from constrictive tissue and can relieve the chronic compression that causes pain. This is very similar to how nerves in carpal tunnel surgery are treated to relieve hand pain/numbness. Typically, the procedure is performed in one to two hours, depending on the severity and complexity of the condition. Any residual scarring should be barely detectable after the procedure since the incisions are placed in the same manner as many standard cosmetic plastic surgery procedures.
What Is Recovery from Migraine Surgery Like?
Migraine surgery patients are encouraged to rest for one week after the procedure, avoiding strenuous activity. Pain medication can be used to relieve any swelling or bruising that may result from treatment. After seven days, patients are asked to return to our office for a follow-up visit with Dr. Fallucco to ensure a successful recovery.
How Much Does Migraine Surgery Cost?
The cost of migraine surgery at our practice is either covered by insurance or can typically be in the range of $7,000-$8,000 (including anesthesia and facility fees) for each deactivation site. Since migraine surgery is a customized procedure, the overall price of treatment will be different for each patient. Factors such as the complexity of treatment, anesthesia and facility fees, the surgeon’s fee, and others will be taken into account in order to create a total estimated price. A member of our team here at Florida Plastic Surgery Group will produce an estimate of the cost of your migraine surgery, including all expenses associated with the procedure, once your treatment plan has been developed. In some cases, migraine surgery may be covered by health insurance. We will discuss your payment options with you and answer any questions you may have. In addition to a comprehensive array of payment methods we accept at our practice, we work with medical financing agencies such as CareCredit® and ALPHAEON™ Credit, which offer affordable low- to no-interest monthly payment plans for applicants who qualify. Our team wants to help you reduce the debilitating effects of migraines and improve your livelihood, so we are happy to assist you with finding a way to pay for treatment that works within your budget.