Migraine Surgery Options: Targeting the Triggers for Long-Term Relief

Migraines are a disabling neurological condition affecting millions worldwide, significantly impacting their daily lives and overall well-being. Characterised by severe, recurring headaches and additional symptoms such as nausea, light sensitivity and even sensory disturbances, migraine sufferers often struggle to find relief through traditional treatment methods.

While many patients turn to medications for managing their symptoms, others may not experience substantial improvement, leaving them in search of alternative solutions. One such option is migraine surgery, a procedure gaining attention for its potential to provide long-term relief for chronic migraine sufferers. Damir Kosutic Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon offers invaluable insight into the different types of migraine surgery available and explores the factors involved in determining the suitability of this treatment method for each individual case.

It is crucial to understand that migraine surgery is typically considered a last resort for those who have not experienced relief through conventional treatments, including medications, lifestyle modifications, and non-invasive therapies. Furthermore, not all migraine patients may be suitable candidates for this type of surgery. The selection process is highly individualised, and patients must undergo a thorough assessment to determine the potential triggers of their migraines and evaluate whether surgical intervention can address these specific issues.

Several types of migraine surgery include nerve decompression surgery, neurectomy and nerve stimulation procedures. Each of these techniques targets specific triggers or factors causing migraines, such as compressed or irritated peripheral nerves. Nerve decompression surgery, for example, involves surgically removing the tissue or structures compressing the nerves that contribute to migraine pain.

On the other hand, neurectomy involves selectively cutting the sensory nerves believed to play a role in migraine development, eliminating the pain signals sent to the brain. Another approach is nerve stimulation, where implanted devices send electrical pulses to the nerves involved in migraines, blocking the pain signals from reaching the brain.

In the following sections, we will delve deeper into understanding each surgical option for migraine relief, the potential benefits and risks involved, and the assessment process to determine candidates’ suitability for migraine surgery. We will also discuss postoperative care and recovery for patients and the key factors to consider when exploring this alternative treatment option.

Migraine Surgery Options: Targeting the Triggers for Long-Term Relief

Assessment and Selection Process for Migraine Surgery Candidates

Before considering surgery, a comprehensive assessment and evaluation must be conducted to determine the suitability of the patient for migraine surgery. This process typically involves the following steps:

1. Medical History and Symptoms Review: Reviewing the patient’s medical history, medications, and headache patterns can provide valuable information for identifying potential triggers, as well as evaluating the efficacy of non-surgical treatments tried so far.

2. Physical Examination: A thorough physical examination, focusing on the patient’s head, face, and neck regions, can help identify muscle or nerve compressions contributing to the migraine symptoms.

3. Diagnostic Testing: In some cases, diagnostic tests such as nerve blocks or imaging studies like MRIs may be performed to assess underlying structures or confirm specific hypotheses about migraine triggers.

4. Selecting Appropriate Surgical Candidates: Following the thorough evaluation, the Consultant Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon will evaluate the patient’s suitability for surgery based on the findings from the assessment and the patient’s overall health.

Types of Migraine Surgery

While various surgical techniques are available, the primary goal of migraine surgery is to target and address the triggers identified during the assessment. Some common types of migraine surgery include:

1. Nerve Decompression Surgery: Particularly effective in addressing migraines caused by compressed or irritated nerves, nerve decompression surgery involves removing the tissue or structures responsible for the pressure, thereby relieving the migraine symptoms.

2. Neurectomy: Neurectomy involves surgically cutting the identified problematic sensory nerves involved in the migraine pathway. By eliminating these nerves’ pain signals, the patient may experience substantial relief from their migraines.

3. Nerve Stimulation: This technique utilises implanted devices that send electrical pulses to the nerves involved in migraines. These electrical impulses can block the pain signals from reaching the brain, consequently reducing the frequency and severity of migraines.

Benefits and Risks of Migraine Surgery

Migraine surgery offers numerous potential benefits for carefully selected patients, including:

1. Long-Term Relief: Many patients experience significant long-term relief from their migraines, with some studies showing reductions of up to 90% in migraine frequency and severity.

2. Reduced Need for Medication: With successful surgery, patients often find a reduced reliance on their migraine medications, which can improve their overall quality of life and minimise potential side effects associated with long-term drug use.

3. Improved Daily Functioning and Quality of Life: As a result of the reduced frequency and severity of migraines, patients often report significant improvements in their daily functioning, work productivity, and overall quality of life.

However, it is essential to be aware of the potential risks associated with migraine surgery:

1. Incomplete Relief or Recurrence: While the goal of migraine surgery is to provide substantial relief, some patients may not experience complete resolution of their symptoms. Furthermore, the possibility of migraines returning or developing new triggers in the future cannot be ruled out.

2. Surgical Risks: As with any surgical procedure, there are inherent risks, including infection, bleeding, and scarring. Additionally, complications such as nerve injury or negative reactions to anesthesia may occur.

Postoperative Care and Recovery

The postoperative care and recovery after migraine surgery will depend on the specific procedure performed and the patient’s overall health. Some general guidelines for postoperative care include:

1. Pain Management: Following surgery, pain management will be crucial. Your surgeon will provide you with appropriate medications and advice on managing any postoperative pain.

2. Physical Rest: Patients will need to allow their body sufficient time to heal following surgery. Your surgeon will offer guidance on a suitable resting plan and how to gradually return to daily activities.

3. Wound Care: Proper wound care, including keeping the area clean and monitoring for potential signs of infection, will be essential during the recovery period.

4. Follow-Up Appointments: Regular follow-up appointments with your surgeon will be scheduled to monitor your progress, discuss any concerns, and ensure the surgery’s success.


Migraine surgery offers a promising alternative solution for patients who have not found relief through conventional treatments. It is crucial to remember that careful evaluation and patient selection are key to achieving successful outcomes.

As an expert, Damir Kosutic Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon is dedicated to working closely with patients, offering personalised assessments and tailored treatment plans to ensure the best possible results for those struggling with migraines. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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