Migraine surgery is a revolutionary procedure that has been changing many patients lives. Through small hidden incisions plastic surgeons are accessing compressed nerves in order to relief the pressure off the nerves causing the migraines, but like any surgical procedure or any medical intervention for that matter, migraine surgery has potential complications. Luckily most are mild and usually improve with time.
The following are a list of the most common potential complications for migraine surgery:
Numbness and sensory changes in the forehead area: This results from manipulating the nerves during surgery. Most patients will witness some numbness in the forehead and back of the head in the weeks after surgery. In the far majority of patients this is not bothersome and usually improves in 4-6 weeks after surgery. In a small group of patients this sensory changes may be the feeling of hot or cold sensations in the forehead or a feeling of severe hypersensitivity when touching ones hair, rarely patients will feel a tight sensation around the head. All these symptoms improve with time. In the unlikely event that a nerve was accidentally severed during surgery, the numbness will be long lasting, and very few cases permanent
Hair loss around incisions: Since most incisions are hidden behind the hairline, some patients will lose small amounts of hair around these incisions after migraine surgery. The longest incision (2 inches) is in the back of the head and usually is well hidden in women who have longer hair.
Swelling and bruising around the eyelids: these do occur in most patients who have the frontal migraine surgery. This usually improves with time; some patients use makeup to conceal the bruises for 2-3 weeks after migraine surgery.
In some patients the headaches worsen the few weeks of surgery, but in most this subsides in 2-3 weeks.
Brow irregularities: after the removal of muscles pinching the nerves, small amounts of fat are used to pad the defect, in some patients the fat does not take and causes a small area of irregularity if this is bothersome to the patient a simple fat grafting procedure can be done as an office procedure.
No response to surgery: this is a potential complication that can occur in 10% of patients. The key to avoid this is careful selection of patients, and a surgeon with experience large enough to decide who would and would not be a good candidate for the surgery.
There are more rare complications that are related to having surgery and anesthesia in general which include but not limited to: bleeding, infection, fluid collections and large wide scars. In general, migraine surgery is a safe and effective operation. A recent study showed 30% of patients to still be cured from migraines 5 years after surgery and 57% witnessing a significant improvement in their symptoms.
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