It targets facial muscles, nerves linked to headache, researchers explain
FRIDAY, July 31 (HealthDay News) -- Thanks to a procedure borrowed from cosmetic surgery, Michelle Cramer has now lost most of her frequent and debilitating migraine headaches, as well as her frown lines.
Cramer, a graphics illustrator in Williamsburg, Va., suffered about 15 migraines a month for close to a decade until she had surgery to "disarm" various nerves that were apparently controlling her headaches.
"I get maybe two migraines a year now," she said.
Cramer, 38, participated in a clinical trial to evaluate the surgery, the results of which are published in the August issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
"The theory here is that there are sites outside the brain in the face and back of the head that can trigger migraines and, if you surgically remove the migraine trigger, the migraine will improve and there's certainly a precedent for the idea," said Dr. Richard Lipton, director of the Montefiore Headache Center in New York City. He was not involved in the new study.
Using surgery to correct migraine is a relatively new idea.
According to background information in the article, some 30 million Americans suffer from migraines, a disproportionate number of them women.
The study enrolled 75 patients with moderate to severe migraine headaches. Migraine trigger sites in the forehead, cheek and back of the head/neck were identified, then injected with the face-lifter Botox to see if the drug "disarmed" them.
If the trigger sites responded to the Botox, which lasts about six-to-eight weeks, then the patients underwent surgery to remove the trigger areas.
Forty-nine patients were randomized to receive "real" surgery and 26 to "sham" surgery.
The surgeries differed depending on the trigger points.
"For the patients with forehead headaches, we rem
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