Surgery May Help Relieve Persistent Migraines in Teens

HealthDay — A small study suggests that teens who haven’t had any relief from standard migraine treatment may benefit from surgery.The findings were published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Researchers at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland reviewed the medical records of 14 patients with an average age of 16. The study’s lead author, Bahman Guyuron, MD, an emeritus professor of plastic surgery at Case Western developed the techniques used in the migraine surgery. 

Before surgery, patients are asked to keep a diary of their migraine symptoms and to note where headaches start. Trigger site can also be confirmed either by injecting a small amount of local anesthetic at the site or by using a Doppler ultrasound device to check blood vessels that might be impinging on nerves. All of the procedures were performed by Guyuron. Follow-up averaged more than three years.

Five patients were free of migraine symptoms after their surgery, the findings showed. For those still experiencing headaches, the average frequency of migraines for the adolescents over a 30-day period went from 25 to five. The duration and severity of their headaches also decreased. One patient didn’t have improvement in the frequency of headaches, but did have less severe headaches with shorter duration, according to the study.

Still, not every adolescent who has migraines is a candidate for surgery, the study authors pointed out. Surgery should be reserved for teens whose migraines have not responded to other treatments and who are likely to continue to have them as adults, Guyuron told HealthDay

“Some teenagers outgrow migraine headaches,” he said. It is important to look at pattern of migraines in the family. If family members have migraines that continue past the teen years, “it is almost a given that the teenager will continue to have migraines in adulthood,” he said.


  1. Bahman G et al. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2015; doi:10.1097/PRS.0000000000001270/